Do you want to read more, but feel like you never have enough time? If so, writers Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren of the classic guide How to Read a Book have a solution for you: Skim reading.
Adler and Van Doren say there’s no need to read an entire book since most of them aren’t actually worth it. When applied correctly, the technique of skim reading can help you get the best ideas from books and can increase the amount of reading you do.
Before we dive deeper into the skim reading technique, it’s important to realize that reading two books quickly doesn’t make someone as learned as a person who reads one book twice or simply carefully. However, it can be very useful when you don’t have much time to spare.
Now, without further ado, here are 4 ways to read more this year.
Read 10 percent of a nonfiction book, and apply one: In the book Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter, author Curtis Jackson says all he could remember after reading The 48 Laws of Power was a single lesson: never outshine the master. However, because he’s been able to apply this lesson so many times over the years, that one lesson has remained lodged in his brain. The point is that even if you only get one key lesson from a book, that’s better than not reading at all. And if you find yourself stopping at interesting points often while you skim, it will indicate to you that you should read the whole thing.
Skim uninteresting books: While there is pleasure in reading, many of us are simply looking to gain inspiration and key insights that can be applied to our lives or our jobs. If you can relate, then skimming can be incredibly useful for you, especially if what you’re reading isn’t particularly interesting but is full of solid knowledge. That said, it’s worth noting that pleasure reading comes with its own health benefits.
Put down a book that you feel obliged to finish: Sir Francis Bacon once said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read-only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few are to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” With food, we usually feel the need to finish everything on our plate, but we don’t necessarily need to apply this “wisdom” to our reading habits. Get what you need from the book, and move on.
Read more slowly: Skimming is a tool that can help you get more out of the time you spend reading, but that doesn’t mean you should only skim through books. When you find a book you truly enjoy, take your time. There is great value in reading slowly, taking notes along the way, and rereading certain parts that you may not understand at first. This will help you internalize a book’s ideas and embed them in your brain.
When it comes to learning more from reading, it’s essential to remember that learning is not just about how many books you read or how quickly you read them. Instead, it’s about deliberately choosing how much time you want to spend on the books you pick up and getting what you need from each book.