How to read a book a week in the age of Facebook and twitter

 

Background

When my son was nearing 14 years, I mentioned to him that I read James Clavell’s epic novel Shogun  (1136 pages) around the age of 15 i.e. his age. Reading a book like Shogun at age 15 is admittedly not typical reading for a 15-year-old. But I have always been an avid reader even as a child. Of just about everything.

But as I saw Shogun again – I realised to my horror  that I could never read and complete a 1136-page book now!

And that is worrying.

With the sheer amount of distraction – It’s hard to read a book of 1000 + pages now.

Yet I and so many others had done it … a couple of decades ago(since the book is a bestseller).

So, I attempted to read a book a week for a year in 2017

This experiment continues in 2018

This post is about how you could read a book a week

It follows some unorthodox strategies in the face of social media which I hope you will also find useful

 

Why read a book a week?

Firstly, why bother to read a book a week?

The ‘why’ is actually very important and its more than ‘books’

It’s better to think of this as ‘reclaiming your mind’ in an age when media (especially social media) attempts to control what we read (and hence what we think).

Numerous studies have shown that Too much tech is ruining lives and at the same time reading is one of the best indicators of career success

But if you are a thinking man or woman, all media today is far from intellectual.

The discovery channel (supposedly based on science) broadcast the  infamous megladon documentary. Not to be outdone on sensationalism, National Geographic(until recently News Corp owned) included a documentary called cocaine hippos (based on Pablo Escobar’s hippos in Colombia)

The point here is – even documentaries are sensationalist.

Even the so called scientific ones – and an hour peppered with advertisements does not give time for any detailed analysis anyway. So, the overall idea is to see this as not just reading a book – but changing our thinking

Some overall objectives:

a)       Read the whole book but aim for comprehension

b)      Read things that you do not read normally

c)       Combine the reading of both larger books and also smaller books

Strategies

Here are the strategies

1)      Try to read unabridged books but use Sparknotes or similar. I would never have been able to read the  unabridged Moby Dick without Sparknotes – Moby Dick .

This strategy gives you the big picture and also helps you to read complex material with comprehension – for example if you understand the main themes.

2)      How to read a book which cannot be finished in a week? The answer is – don’t attempt to finish a book in a week. Many books take more than one week. So, at any point, you are reading more than one book – but you are always finishing a book in a week

3)      Speed reading does not work for me – but my speed of reading increased dramatically.  I am sure speed reading works for some – it did not for me.

4)      When reading literature – use comics especially Classics illustrated to start off with – before you get to the original book. I did say that my strategies are unorthodox! This strategy worked very well for me. I love comics and reading Classics illustrated allowed me to read many books which I would not have attempted otherwise

5)      Read for completion and balance with comprehension. This works quite well because you can skip the filler material in a book (especially if you combine with the other strategies)

6)      Read  Mortimer Adler’s How to read a book – first published in 1940 and still relevant today

7)      I can read business and technical books fast but many other categories not so. For example – this book although not very large – took a lot longer because the content was excellent  Lee Kwan Yew – the man and his ideas

8)      Read  Neil Postman – Amusing ourselves to Death .

It’s an iconic book – from the time of television – to understand why you need to rethink your media strategy. See this review of the book and many others online

9)      Read a range of different books across cultures – this is an excellent list – The most iconic books set in 150 countries

10)      Read in Chunks 30 pages. That means you can finish a reasonable size book (210 pages) in a week.

11)      Collect a set of book links – here are a few – Bill Gates book listTim Ferris book listJames Clear book list

12)      Try to read bigger books for the reasons I mentioned above. Till the end of the year, I have two specific books I am reading The autobiography of Marshall Zhukov (see this review of marshal of victory the autobiography of general georgy zhukov)  and Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo Da Vinci

 

Conclusion

Today, I feel it’s not so fashionable to be thoughtful.  In many areas like politics – we see intelligent, thoughtful leaders being penalized.  Yet, that’s exactly why this kind of thinking is called for.  I see some notable exceptions. This thoughtful young girl is very inspiring!  How To Read More || How I Read 102 Books in a Year!

Both Buffett and Gates are avid readers The simple truth behind reading 200 books a year  - How Bill Gates reads a book . I read 48 books in 2017 and in 2018, this continues.  So, overall, this was a success and I hope you can learn from it

 

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