fs.blog/reading/ and all the links out of the article Last read on 05-31-2020

  1. Introduction to reading comprehension

    1. Too much of what we consume these days is the mental equivalent of junk food. Quality matters more than quantity

    2. be quick to start books, quicker to stop them

    3. don’t read what everyone else is reading. Rather than read new books, focus on old ones.

    4. process to take notes while reading:

      1. At the end of each chapter write a few bullet points that summarize what you’ve read and make it personal if you can — that is, apply it to something in your life. Also, note any unanswered questions. When you’re done the book, put it down for a week.

      2. Pick up the book again and go through all your notes. Most of these will be garbage but there will be lots you want to remember. Write the good stuff on the inside cover of the book along with a page number.

      3. Copy out the excerpts by hand or take a picture of them to pop into Evernote. Tag accordingly.

    5. The Blank Sheet

      1. Before you start reading a new book, take out a blank sheet of paper. Write down what you know about the subject you’re about to read — a mind map if you will.

      2. After you are done a reading session spend a few minutes adding to the map (we use a different color ink).

      3. Before you start your next reading session, review the mindmap (we use ours as a bookmark sometimes.)

      4. Put these mind maps into a binder that you periodically review.

    6. just because you’ve read something doesn’t mean you’ve done the work required to have an opinion.

  2. How to read a book

    1. A lot of people confuse knowing the name of something with understanding. While great for exercising your memory, the regurgitation of facts without solid understanding and context gains you little in the real world.

      1. A useful heuristic: Anything easily digested is reading for information.

    2. “Marking a book is literally an experience of your differences or agreements with the author. It is the highest respect you can pay him.”

      1. You need to find writers who are more knowledgeable on a particular subject than yourself. By narrowing the gap between the author and yourself, you get smarter.

    3. The Four Levels of Reading

      1. Elementary Reading

        1. This is the level of reading taught in our elementary schools. If you’re reading this website, you already know how to do this.

      2. Inspectional Reading

        1. Inspectional reading gives you the gist of things and helps you reach to a decision point: Does this book deserve more of my time and attention? If not, you put it down.

        2. Systematic skimming — This is meant to be a quick check of the book by (1) reading the preface; (2) studying the table of contents; (3) checking the index; and (4) reading the inside jacket. This should give you sufficient knowledge to understand the chapters in the book, pivotal to the author’s argument. Dip in here and there, but never with more than a paragraph or two.

        3. Superficial reading — This is when you just read. Don’t ponder the argument, don’t look things up, don’t write in the margins. If you don’t understand something, move on. What you gain from this quick read will help you later when you go back and put more effort into reading. You now come to another decision point. Now that you have a better understanding of the book’s contents and its structure, do you want to understand it?

      3. Analytical Reading

        1. Analytical reading is a thorough reading.

        2. If inspectional reading is the best you can do quickly, this is the best reading you can do given time.

        3. There are four rules to Analytical Reading

          1. Classify the book according to kind and subject matter.

          2. State what the whole book is about with the utmost brevity.

          3. Enumerate its major parts in their order and relation, and outline these parts as you have outlined the whole.

          4. Define the problem or problems the author is trying to solve.

        4. After an inspectional read, you will understand the book and the author’s views.

          1. But that doesn’t mean you’ll understand the broader subject. To do that, you need to use comparative reading to synthesize knowledge from several books on the same subject.

      4. Syntopical Reading

        1. Syntopical Reading involves reading many books on the same subject and comparing and contrasting ideas, vocabulary, and arguments.

          1. This task is undertaken by identifying relevant passages, translating the terminology, framing and ordering the questions that need answering, defining the issues, and having a conversation with the responses.

          2. The goal is not to achieve an overall understanding of any particular book, but rather to understand the subject and develop a deep fluency.

        2. five steps to syntopical reading

          1. Finding the Relevant Passages — You need to find the right books and then the passages that are most relevant to filling your needs. So the first step is an inspectional reading of all the works that you have identified as relevant.

          2. Bringing the Author to Terms — In analytical reading, you must identify the keywords and how they are used by the author. This is fairly straightforward. The process becomes more complicated now as each author has probably used different terms and concepts to frame their argument. Now the onus is on you to establish the terms. Rather than using the author’s language, you must use your own. In short, this is an exercise in translation and synthesis.

          3. Getting the Questions Clear — Rather than focus on the problems the author is trying to solve, you need to focus on the questions that you want answered. Just as we must establish our own terminology, so too must we establish our own propositions by shedding light on our problems to which the authors provide answers. It’s important to frame the questions in such a way that all or most of the authors can be interpreted as providing answers. Sometimes we might not get an answer to our questions because they might not have been seen as questions by the authors.

          4. Defining the Issues — If you’ve asked a clear question to which there are multiple answers then an issue has been defined. Opposing answers, now translated into your terms, must be ordered in relation to one another. Understanding multiple perspectives within an issue helps you form an intelligent opinion.

          5. Analyzing the Discussion — It’s presumptuous to expect we’ll find a single unchallenged truth to any of our questions. Our answer is the conflict of opposing answers. The value is the discussion you have with these authors. You can now have an informed opinion.

    4. While many people are proficient in reading for information and entertainment, few improve their ability to read for knowledge.

    5. Becoming a Demanding Reader

      1. Reading is all about asking the right questions in the right order and seeking answers. There are four main questions you need to ask of every book:

        1. What is this book about?

        2. What is being said in detail, and how?

        3. Is this book true in whole or in part?

        4. What of it?

  3. “Speed Reading” That Works: How to Intelligently Skim a Book

    1. “Every book should be read no more slowly than it deserves, and no more quickly than you can read it with satisfaction and comprehension”

    2. Mastering intelligent skimming will save you a lot of time because most books are not worth reading

  4. The Art of Reading: Analytical Reading

    1. Any book that consists primarily of opinions, theories, hypotheses, or speculations, for which the claim is made more or less explicitly that they are true in some sense, conveys knowledge in this meaning of knowledge and is an expository work.

      1. It is not merely a question of knowing which books are primarily instructive, but also which are instructive in a particular way. The kinds of information or enlightenment that a history and a philosophical work afford are not the same. The problems dealt with by a book on physics and one on morals are not the same, nor are the methods the writers employ in solving such different problems.

      2. in dealing with expository books, are we not dealing with books that convey knowledge? How does action come into it? The answer, of course, is that intelligent action depends on knowledge.

    2. The second rule of analytical reading is state the unity of the whole book in a single sentence, or at most a few sentences (a short paragraph).

      1. This means that you must say what the whole book is about as briefly as possible.

    3. The third rule is to set forth the major parts of the book, and show how these are organized into a whole, by being ordered to one another and to the unity of the whole.

    4. The best books, Adler argues, are those that have the most intelligible structure.

      1. Though they are usually more complex than poorer books, their greater complexity is also a greater simplicity, because their parts are better organized, more unified.

    5. If these rules seem like they could also apply to writing, they can. “Writing and reading are reciprocal, as are teaching and being taught.” While the rules can work for both, the roles are not the same. Readers try to uncover the skeleton of the book. The author starts with the skeleton and covers it up, say, by putting meat around the bones.

    6. The fourth rule of analytical reading is to find out what the authors problems were.

      1. The author of a book starts with a question or a set of questions. The book ostensibly contains the answer or answers. The writer may or may not tell you what the questions were as well as give you the answers that are the fruits of his work. Whether he does or does not, and especially if he does not, it is your task as a reader to formulate the questions as precisely as you can. You should be able to state the main question that the book tries to answer, and you should be able to state the subordinate questions if the main question is complex and has many parts.

  5. The Most Productive Change You Can Make In Your Working Habits

    1. The single most important change you can make in your working habits is to switch to creative work first, reactive work second. This means blocking off a large chunk of time every day for creative work on your own priorities, with the phone and e-mail off.

    2. It’s time to take responsibility.

      1. It’s time to stop blaming our surroundings and start taking responsibility. While no workplace is perfect, it turns out that our gravest challenges are a lot more primal and personal. Our individual practices ultimately determine what we do and how well we do it. Specifically, it’s our routine (or lack thereof), our capacity to work proactively rather than reactively, and our ability to systematically optimize our work habits over time that determine our ability to make ideas happen.

    3. Routines help set expectations about availability.

      1. Truly great creative achievements require hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of work, and we have to make time every single day to put in those hours. Routines help us do this by setting expectations about availability, aligning our workflow with our energy levels, and getting our minds into a regular rhythm of creating. At the end of the day— or, really, from the beginning— building a routine is all about persistence and consistency.

  6. The Pot-Belly of Ignorance

    1. What you eat makes a huge difference in how optimally your body operates. And what you spend time reading and learning equally affects how effectively your mind operates.

    2. If you think of your mind as a library, three things should concern you.

      1. The information you store in there — its accuracy and relevance;

      2. Your ability to find/retrieve that information on demand; and

      3. Finally your ability to put that information to use when you need it — that is, you want to apply it.

    3. If your mental library is inaccurate or plain wrong, you’re going to struggle. You probably won’t be very productive. Generally speaking, you’ll muddle through things and you’ll spend a lot of time correcting your own mistakes.

    4. Clickbait media is not a nutritious diet. Most people brush this off and say that it doesn’t matter … that it’s just harmless entertainment. But it’s not harmless at all. Worse, it’s like cocaine. It causes our brains to light up and feel good. The more of it we consume, the more of it we want. It’s a vicious cycle.

      1. Junk in the library messes with accrual of accurate, relevant information, and gets in the way of effective and efficient use our of brains — it causes us to seek out more rubbish instead. We lose our ability to discern.

    5. not only do we need to filter, but we need to be aware of what filters our information has already been through.

    6. In our search for wisdom and high quality information to put into our library, we often turn to knowledge nuggets called soundbites. These deceptive fellows, also called surface knowledge, make us sound clever and feel good about ourselves. They are also easy to add to our “mind library”.

      1. The problem is surface knowledge is blown away easily, like topsoil. However, most people are operating on the same level of surface knowledge! So, in a twisted bout of game theory, we are rarely if ever called out on our bullshit (because people fear that we’ll call them out on theirs.)

    7. If you’re looking for a quick heuristic you can use for information you’re putting into your library, try the two-pronged approach of time and detail

      1. Time meaning how relevant is this historically? How long will it be accurate — what will it look like in ten minutes, ten months, ten years? If it’s going to change soon, you can probably filter it out right here.

      2. One way to determine if the information will stand the test of time is by gauging its accuracy by examining the details. They are the small but powerful vitamins of your reading diet.

    8. One of the ways you can assess expertise is through the details people provide. Surface skimming articles are sometimes meant to be readable by the lay public, but more frequently it indicates simply that the author only has surface knowledge! Referenced work also shows you the author is aware of the filters their information came through too. It’s like knowing the vegetables on your plate are organic and responsibly sourced.

  7. The Two Types of Knowledge: The Max Planck/Chauffeur Test

    1. I frequently tell the apocryphal story about how Max Planck, after he won the Nobel Prize, went around Germany giving the same standard lecture on the new quantum mechanics.

      1. Over time, his chauffeur memorized the lecture and said, “Would you mind, Professor Planck, because it’s so boring to stay in our routine. [What if] I gave the lecture in Munich and you just sat in front wearing my chauffeur’s hat?” Planck said, “Why not?” And the chauffeur got up and gave this long lecture on quantum mechanics. After which a physics professor stood up and asked a perfectly ghastly question. The speaker said, “Well I’m surprised that in an advanced city like Munich I get such an elementary question. I’m going to ask my chauffeur to reply.”

    2. Be on the lookout for chauffeur knowledge. Do not confuse the company spokesperson, the ringmaster, the newscaster, the schmoozer, the verbiage vendor, or the cliché generator with those who possess true knowledge. How do you recognize the difference? There is a clear indicator: True experts recognize the limits of what they know and what they do not know. If they find themselves outside their circle of competence, they keep quiet or simply say, “I don’t know.” This they utter unapologetically, even with a certain pride. From chauffeurs, we hear every line except this.

  8. How to Choose Your Next Book

    1. I constantly ask myself if I’m making the most use of my limited reading time.

    2. most of the time the best way to improve your Reading Return on Invested Time (RROIT) is to carefully filter the books you read.

    3. “The more basic knowledge you have … the less new knowledge you have to get.”

    4. Understand Deeply

      1. A lot of people assume the basics are not important and never really take the time to learn them, preferring the sexiness of complexity. Understanding a simple idea deeply, however, creates more lasting knowledge and builds a solid foundation for complex ideas later.

      2. Take the time to do a Feynman One Pager on an idea you think you know really well. While easy, this process will reveal any gaps you have in your knowledge.

      3. the slightest wind blows over a house without a foundation.

    5. The Lindy Effect

      1. For the perishable, every additional day in its life translates into a shorter additional life expectancy. For the nonperishable, every additional day may imply a longer life expectancy. So the longer a technology lives, the longer it can be expected to live.

      2. If a book has been in print for forty years, I can expect it to be in print for another forty years. But, and that is the main difference, if it survives another decade, then it will be expected to be in print another fifty years.

  9. Arthur Schopenhauer: On Reading and Books

    1. Finding time to read has never been an issue for me. I read different books at different levels — you don’t put the same effort into Harry Potter as you do Seneca. Reading is the best way to get smarter. And while I’ve always taken notes while reading to improve my ability to remember what I’ve read, I’ve had a nagging feeling that I was missing part of the work.

    2. For me, reading has always been about this website’s tagline: Mastering the best of what other people have already figured out.

    3. “Men who have made these discoveries before us are not our masters, but our guides.”

    4. When we read, another person thinks for us: we merely repeat his mental process. It is the same as the pupil, in learning to write, following with his pen the lines that have been pencilled by the teacher. Accordingly, in reading, the work of thinking is, for the greater part, done for us. This is why we are consciously relieved when we turn to reading after being occupied with our own thoughts. But, in reading, our head is, however, really only the arena of some one else’s thoughts. And so it happens that the person who reads a great deal — that is to say, almost the whole day, and recreates himself by spending the intervals in thoughtless diversion, gradually loses the ability to think for himself; just as a man who is always riding at last forgets how to walk.

    5. “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

  10. Just Twenty-Five Pages a Day

    1. At 300 words per minute, a 700,000-word text is going to take me 2,333 minutes, or about 39 hours to read. And there’s the issue: the brain doesn’t seem to like to get started on 39-hour projects it isn’t being paid to complete. So, most commonly, we pick something shorter and easier. Still counts, right?

    2. That means, in about one year, at a modest pace of 25 pages a day, I’ve knocked out 13 masterful works and learned an enormous amount about the history of the world. In one year!

  11. The Antilibrary: Why Unread Books Are The Most Important

    1. The friends who walk into my office and ask, “have you read all of these” miss the point of books.

    2. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means … allow you to put there

    3. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.

  12. CS Lewis quote

    1. “Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old. And I would give him this advice precisely because he is an amateur and therefore much less protected than the expert against the dangers of an exclusive contemporary diet. A new book is still on its trial and the amateur is not in a position to judge it. It has to be tested against the great body of Christian thought down the ages, and all its hidden implications (often unsuspected by the author himself) have to be brought to light. Often it cannot be fully understood without the knowledge of a good many other modern books.”

  13. Reading a Book is a Conversation Between You and the Author

    1. When you buy a book, you establish a property right in it, just as you do in clothes or furniture when you buy and pay for them. But the act of purchase is actually only the prelude to possession in the case of a book. Full ownership of a book only comes when you have made it a part of yourself, and the best way to make yourself a part of it— which comes to the same thing— is by writing in it.

    2. Why is marking a book indispensable to reading it? First, it keeps you awake— not merely conscious, but wide awake. Second, reading, if it is active, is thinking, and thinking tends to express itself in words, spoken or written. The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks. Third, writing your reactions down helps you to remember the thoughts of the author.

    3. Reading a book should be a conversation between you and the author. Presumably, he knows more about the subject than you do; if not, you probably should not be bothering with his book. But understanding is a two-way operation; the learner has to question himself and question the teacher. He even has to be willing to argue with the teacher, once he understands what the teacher is saying. Marking a book is literally an expression of your differences or your agreements with the author. It is the highest respect you can pay him.

  14. The Work Required to Have an Opinion

    1. “I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.” — Charlie Munger

    2. The work is the hard part, that’s why people avoid it. You have to do the reading. You have to talk to anyone competent you can find and listen to their arguments. You have to think about the key variables and how they interact. You have to listen and chase down arguments that run counter to your views. You have to think about how you might be fooling yourself. You have to see the issue through multiple lenses. You need to become your most intelligent critic and have the intellectual honesty to kill some of your best-loved ideas.

    3. “We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.” — Charlie Munger

    4. “Teach thy tongue to say I do not know, and thou shalt progress.” - Maimonides

    5. The work required to hold an opinion means that you can argue against yourself better than others can. That is the time you can say, “Hey, I can hold this view, because I can’t find anyone else who can argue better against my view.”

    6. Doing the work counteracts our natural desire to seek out only information that confirms what we believe we know.

    7. The difference between the people who do the work and the people who just reel off memorized opinion is huge. When you do the work, you can answer the next question.

    8. “The ability to destroy your ideas rapidly instead of slowly when the occasion is right is one of the most valuable things. You have to work hard on it. Ask yourself what are the arguments on the other side. It’s bad to have an opinion you’re proud of if you can’t state the arguments for the other side better than your opponents. This is a great mental discipline.” — Charlie Munger

  15. The Top 3 Most Effective Ways to Take Notes While Reading

    1. There are three steps to effectively taking notes while reading:

      1. At the end of each chapter write a few bullet points that summarize what you’ve read and make it personal if you can — that is, apply it to something in your life. Also, note any unanswered questions. When you’re done the book, put it down for a week.

      2. Pick up the book again and go through all your notes. Most of these will be garbage but there will be lots you want to remember. Write the good stuff on the inside cover of the book along with a page number.

      3. (Optional) Copy out the excerpts by hand or take a picture of them to pop into Evernote. Tag accordingly.

    2. when we’re taught how to read read, we’re not allowed to write in books. So we never really learn a system for taking notes that we can use as adults.

    3. Learning something new as an adult is a function of consuming information (what you read and how you read), the information you retain, and your ability to put what you learned into practice (recognize patterns).

  16. The Buffett Formula: Going to Bed Smarter Than When You Woke Up

    1. “The best thing a human being can do is to help another human being know more.” — Charlie Munger

    2. [Warren Buffet] spends 80% of his working day reading and thinking.

    3. “Go to bed smarter than when you woke up.” — Charlie Munger

    4. Todd Combs: Eventually finding and reading productive material became second nature, a habit. As he began his investing career, he would read even more, hitting 600, 750, even 1,000 pages a day.

      1. Combs discovered that Buffett’s formula worked, giving him more knowledge that helped him with what became his primary job—seeking the truth about potential investments.

    5. Charlie, as a very young lawyer, was probably getting $20 an hour. He thought to himself, “Who’s my most valuable client?” And he decided it was himself. So he decided to sell himself an hour each day. He did it early in the morning, working on these construction projects and real estate deals. Everybody should do this, be the client, and then work for other people, too, and sell yourself an hour a day.

      1. It’s important to think about the opportunity cost of this hour. On one hand, you can check Twitter, read some online news, and reply to a few emails while pretending to finish the memo that is supposed to be the focus of your attention. On the other hand, you can dedicate the time to improving yourself. In the short term, you’re better off with the dopamine-laced rush of email and Twitter while multitasking. In the long term, the investment in learning something new and improving yourself goes further.

    6. We read a lot. I don’t know anyone who’s wise who doesn’t read a lot. But that’s not enough: You have to have a temperament to grab ideas and do sensible things. Most people don’t grab the right ideas or don’t know what to do with them.

    7. “The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.”

    8. Another way to get smarter, outside of reading, is to surround yourself with people who are not afraid to challenge your ideas.

  17. The Best Way to Find More Time to Read

    1. finding time to read boils down to choices about how you allocate your time. And allocating your time is how successful people increase productivity.

    2. If you assume that the average person spends 3–4 hours a day watching TV, an hour or more commuting, and another 2–3 hours a week shopping, that’s 28 hours a week on the low end.

    3. Twenty-eight hours. That’s 1,680 minutes. That’s huge. If you read a page a minute, that’s more than 1,600 pages a week.

    4. Read different things depending on the situation

      1. If I know I have only a few minutes, I’m not going to read something that requires a lot of mental context switching to get back into. I’ll keep it simple, with something like Phil Jackson’s Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success or Grow Regardless. Waiting around is also a great time to read magazines and printed copies of articles from the web. These tend to be short, rather disposable, and easily digested.

      2. Early in the evening, say around 8 or 9, I’ll grab a glass of wine and sink into something serious. Something I want to read without interruption. Some nights I’ll read well past midnight; other nights I’ll stop reading around 10 or 11.

    5. I don’t pull out a book while I’m in the checkout line at the grocery store. While everyone else is playing the “which line is longer game,” I’m toying with something I’ve read recently.

    6. The first thing I did when I started making money was to call my younger brothers and tell them that until they graduated high school, I’d buy them whatever books they wanted as long as they promised to read them. As many as they wanted; whatever they wanted.

    7. Odds are that no matter what you’re working on, someone somewhere, who is smarter than you, has probably thought about your problem and put it into a book.

  18. How to Remember What You Read

    1. Passive readers forget things almost as quickly as they read them. Active readers, on the other hand, retain the bulk of what they read. Another difference between these two types of readers is how the quantity of reading affects them differently. Passive readers who read a lot are not much further ahead than passive readers who read a little.

    2. “What the pupil must learn, if he learns anything at all, is that the world will do most of the work for you, provided you cooperate with it by identifying how it really works and aligning with those realities. If we do not let the world teach us, it teaches us a lesson.” — Joseph Tussman

    3. Active readers have another advantage: The more they read the faster they read.

    4. Effective Reading Habits

      1. Quality matters more than quantity. If you read just one book a week but fully appreciate and absorb it, you’ll be far better off than someone who skims through half the library without paying much attention.

      2. Speedreading is bullshit. The only way to read faster is to actually read more.

      3. Book summary services miss the point. A lot of companies charge ridiculous prices for access to summaries written by some 22-year-old with exactly zero experience in the subject matter of the book. This misses the point of not only reading but how we learn.

      4. Fancy apps and tools are not needed. A notebook, index cards, and a pen will do just fine. (For those of you wanting a simple and searchable online tool to help, Evernote is the answer.)

      5. Don’t read stuff we find boring.

      6. Finishing the book is optional. You should start a lot of books and only finish a few of them.

    5. “Every time I read a great book I felt I was reading a kind of map, a treasure map, and the treasure I was being directed to was in actual fact myself. But each map was incomplete, and I would only locate the treasure if I read all the books, and so the process of finding my best self was an endless quest. And books themselves seemed to reflect this idea. Which is why the plot of every book ever can be boiled down to ‘someone is looking for something’.” — Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

    6. Focus on some combination of books that: (1) stand the test of time; (2) pique your interest; or (3) resonate with your current situation.

      1. The more interesting and relevant we find a book, the more likely we are to remember its contents in the future.

    7. Get Some Context

      1. A good place to start is by doing some preliminary research on the book. Some books – for example, A Confederacy of Dunces and The Palm Wine Drinkard – have a very different meaning once we know a bit about the life of the author.

      2. For older books, try to understand the historical context. For books written in an unfamiliar country, try to understand the cultural context. Some helpful questions to ask include:

        1. Why did the author write this? (Did they have an agenda?)

        2. What is their background?

        3. What else have they written?

        4. Where was it written?

        5. What was the political, economic, and cultural situation at the time of writing?

        6. Has the book been translated or reprinted?

        7. Did any important events — a war, an economic depression, a change of leadership, the emergence of new technology — happen during the writing of the book?

    8. When choosing books, take a look at your own situation and decide on genres or authors that might help you overcome any current challenges. Whatever your state of affairs, someone has been in the same place. Someone has felt the same feelings and thought the same thoughts and written about it. It’s up to you to find that book.

    9. If I were a Dr., I’d prescribe books [specific to context/condition of the reader]. They can be just as powerful as drugs.

    10. The best technique for notetaking is whichever one works for you and is easy to stick to. While there are hundreds of systems on the internet, you need to take one of them and adapt it until you have your own system

    11. Start by writing a short summary of each chapter and transcribing any meaningful passages or phrases. If you are unsure how to simplify your thoughts, imagine that someone has just tapped you on the shoulder and asked you to explain the chapter you just finished reading. They have never read this book and lack any idea of the subject matter. How would you explain it to them?

    12. As you are reading a book, write your chapter summary right at the end of the chapter. If your reading session is over, this helps synthesize what you just read. When you pick up the book tomorrow start by reading the previous two chapter summaries to help prime your mind to where you are in the book.

    13. Decide that for the time you will be reading, you will focus on the book and nothing else. No quick Twitter checks. No emails. No cell phone. No TV. No staring into midair. Understanding and absorbing a book requires deep focus, especially if the subject matter is dense or complex. Remember, we are aiming for active reading. Active reading requires focus and the ability to engage with the author.

    14. The more you write, the more active your mind will be while reading. Jot down connections and tangential thoughts, underline key passages and make a habit of building a dialogue with the author. Some people recommend making your own index of key pages or using abbreviations (Maria Popova of Brain Pickings writes “BL” next to any beautiful language, for example).

    15. Building vivid mental pictures is one of the most effective techniques for remembering anything, not least what we read. When you come across an important passage or concept, pause and visualize it. Make the picture as salient and distinctive as possible.

    16. Mental models enable us to better understand and synthesize books. Some of the key ways we can use them include:

      1. Confirmation bias: Which parts of this book am I ignoring? Does this book confirm my opinions? (Okay, but does it actually affirm your beliefs or are you just seeing what you want to see? If you cannot think of a single point in the book that you disagreed with, confirmation bias is perchance distorting your reasoning.)

      2. Bayesian updating: What opinions should I change in light of this book? How can I update my worldview using the information in it? Keep in mind the words of John Maynard Keynes: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

      3. Pareto principle: Which parts of this book are most important and contain the most information? If I had to cut 99% of the words in this book, what would I leave? Many authors have to reach a certain word or page count, resulting in pages (or even entire chapters) containing fluff and padding. Even the best non-fiction books are often longer than is imperative to convey their ideas. (Note that the Pareto principle is less applicable for fiction books.)

      4. Leverage: How can I use lessons from this book to gain a disproportionate advantage? Can I leverage this new knowledge in a tangible way?

      5. Incentives: What motivates the characters or the author? What are they seeking? What is their purpose? Here’s how Kurt Vonnegut described the importance of incentives in books: “When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away – even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.”

      6. Availability bias: Are the books I have recently read affecting how I perceive this one? How are my neoteric experiences shaping my reading? Am I assigning undue importance to parts of this book because they are salient and memorable?

      7. Stereotyping tendency: Am I unconsciously fitting the author, characters, or book in general into a particular category? Or is the author stereotyping their characters? Remember, there is no such thing as a good stereotype.

      8. Social proof: How is social proof — the number of copies sold, bestseller status, the opinions of others — affecting my perception of this book? Is the author using social proof to manipulate readers? It is not unusual for authors to buy their way onto bestseller lists, providing social proof which then leads to substantial sales. As a result, mediocre books can end up becoming popular. It’s a classic case of the emperor having no clothes, which smart readers know to look out for.

      9. Narrative instinct: Is the author distorting real events to form a coherent narrative? This is common in biographies, memoirs, and historical texts. In The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality, Hayden White explains our tendency to meld history into a narrative: “So natural is the impulse to narrate, so inevitable is the form of narrative for any report of the way things really happened, that narrativity could appear problematical only in a culture in which it was absent… narrative is a metacode, a human universal… Narrative becomes a problem only when we wish to give to real events the form of story… This value attached to narrativity in the representation of real events arises out of a desire to have real events display the coherence, integrity, fullness, and closure of an image of life that is and can only be imaginary. The notion that sequences of real events possess the formal attributes of the stories we tell about imaginary events could only have its origin in wishes, daydreams, reveries. Does the world really present itself to perception in the form of well-made stories, with central subjects, proper beginnings, middles, and ends, and a coherence that permits us to see “the end” in every beginning? Or does it present itself more in the forms that the annals and chronicle suggest, either as mere sequence without beginning or end or as sequences of beginnings that only terminate and never conclude? And does the world, even the social world, ever really come to us as already narrativized, already “speaking itself” from beyond the horizon of our capacity to make scientific sense of it? Or is the fiction of such a world, a world capable of speaking itself and of displaying itself as a form of a story, necessary for the establishment of that moral authority without which the notion of a specifically social reality would be unthinkable?”

      10. Survivorship bias: Is this (non-fiction) book a representation of reality or is the author failing to account for base rates? Survivorship bias is abundant in business, self-help, and biographical books. A particular case of a successful individual or business might be held as the rule, rather than the exception.

      11. Utility: If a book offers advice, does it have practical applications? At what point do diminishing returns set in?

    17. people who love reading never, ever finish a crappy book.

      1. bad books are intellectual poison; they destroy the mind.” Life is much too short to finish a bad book.

    18. The basic process of learning consists of reflection and feedback. We learn ideas gained through experiences – ours or others – that remain unchallenged unless we make the time to reflect on them. If you read something and you don’t make time to think about what you’ve read, your conclusions will be shaky.

    19. So, you’ve finished the book. Now what? How can you use what you have learned? Don’t just go away with a vague sense of “oh yeah, I should totally do what that author says.” Take the time to make a plan and decide how to implement key lessons from the book.

    20. The Feynman technique is named after the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. You can think of it as an algorithm for guaranteed learning. There are four simple steps: choose a concept; teach it to a toddler; identify gaps and go back to the source material; and review and simplify.

    21. Having a catalogue of everything you learn from reading creates a priceless resource which can be consulted whenever you need an idea, want inspiration, or want to confirm a thought. Over the years, you will build up a bank of wisdom to refer to in times of crisis, uncertainty, or need. It is hard to convey quite how valuable this can prove to be.

      1. Schedule time to read and review these notes.

    22. The best time to start rereading a great book is right after finishing. The goal is not to read as many books as possible; I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. The goal is to gain as much wisdom as you can.

    23. Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. Books, the oldest and the best, stand naturally and rightfully on the shelves of every cottage. They have no cause of their own to plead, but while they enlighten and sustain the reader his common sense will not refuse them. Their authors are a natural and irresistible aristocracy in every society, and, more than kings or emperors, exert an influence on mankind.

© 2020 by Hadar Dor

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