How do you read books?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
ying_yang
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:18 am

How do you read books?

Post by ying_yang » Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:22 pm

I have noticed that for the majority of books I read I tend to read it in straightforward linear fashion from start to finish. Often I feel as though, relative to the amount of information in the book, the amount I actually retain is quite low.

So I was wondering if people had any other reading/studying methods they used, particularly for non-fiction finance books? (e.g Bogle on Mutual Funds, All about Asset Allocation)

User avatar
Alexa9
Posts: 1365
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:41 am

Re: How do you read books?

Post by Alexa9 » Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:24 pm

Speed reading is just glancing at the words quickly without subvocalizing them. With practice you understand it fairly well and become faster. Good for stuff you don't really want to read but have to.

User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 4936
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: 10/90 Allocation - Hawaii😀 Northern AZ.😳

Re: How do you read books?

Post by Sandtrap » Sat Jun 16, 2018 8:37 pm

Likely, the author has an "organic" understanding of a non fiction book. It might be concepts that are hard to grasp without long explanations and so forth. Or, more "nut and bolt" steps and procedures that may seem complex at first and then simpler with real life application and repetition.
Either way, the goal is to have that same level of understanding and application within and beyond what is addressed in the book after absorbing its contents. (beyond cerebral and academic)
Whichever way a book is read, the goal is the same.
Chess vs Checkers.

j

User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
Posts: 46070
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: How do you read books?

Post by LadyGeek » Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:46 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (reading a book).
Wiki To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

Loik098
Posts: 603
Joined: Mon May 30, 2016 9:29 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by Loik098 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:20 am

I read mostly nonfiction. If I've chosen a book, it's usually because I want to know something specific from its contents. Like the OP, I won't remember much of what I read from a particular book. Also, due to choosing books that match my interests, I find that many books contain information I already know, so re-reading that information is a waste of time.

I usually go to the part of the book that most interests me first, read it and any necessary surrounding context, then decide if there's anything else worthwhile, or if the writer's style will make it worthwhile for me to dig deeper. If not, on to the next book. If I think most of the book's contents are going to be worth my time, I'll usually try to find it in an audiobook format and listen to/from work.

While I read, I keep my laptop open to a page I keep for good quotes/stories/lessons, and am sure to copy over things I want to remember. I review this page often so that I can better commit what I've learned to memory.

TravelforFun
Posts: 1348
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:05 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by TravelforFun » Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:30 am

I tend to read two or three books at the same time on a tablet and they could be fiction or non-fiction. I read them mainly for entertainment value because I don't retain much shortly after I read them.

TravelforFun

User avatar
randomizer
Posts: 1320
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:46 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by randomizer » Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:31 am

I read on the Kindle, linearly, and I highlight the stuff that seems new/interesting to me.
75:25 — HODL the course!

User avatar
steve roy
Posts: 1539
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 5:16 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by steve roy » Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:46 am

Generally read start to finish.

Generally read non-fiction (biographies; autobiographies, history) but when I read fiction it's mostly of the light mystery variety: Robert B. Parker, Raymond Chandler, John D. MacDonald, etc. Bright dialogue inside of easy page-turners is what I'm after, material that's easy on the brain.

I read a Kindle paper white and paperbacks. When we moved six months ago, I jettisoned most of the hard-cover books. (I hated to part with the three-volume Mark Twain Autobiography, but I'd read all three books so OFF they went.)

On occasion I will sit in a library or book store and read a big chunk of text out of a random tome. I've found that's a dandy way to waste time. When I worked at a 9-5 job it was a guilty pleasure during lunch hour(s). Now that I'm retired, it's just a pleasure.

ReadyOrNot
Posts: 155
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2016 1:51 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by ReadyOrNot » Sun Jun 17, 2018 1:14 am

A professor once pointed out that grad students and effective learners spent a lot more time reading the preface, introduction, and table of contents than undergrads (who often ignored those sections). A rapid reading book also recommended doing this kind of pre-reading as well. The author tries to help you get the most out of the book there. Effective reading books advise skimming and pre-reading to get an overview and identify good or important parts.

For particular subjects, I try to identify the author's essential views, and what might be new for me.
For financial books, do they advocate low-cost index funds, or do they claim to have some winning strategy? If you suddenly had a million dollars, what should you do with it? Do they have some point I haven't read before?
For diet books, what are the recommended foods, what are foods to avoid, what are the principles behind the diet, do they still recommend old discredited practices?

SrGrumpy
Posts: 703
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:21 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by SrGrumpy » Sun Jun 17, 2018 3:35 am

One page at a time. If it's a bio, I often go to the death bit first, and then start the book proper. Alas, the recent McKinley bio reduced his assassination to about one page. And let's not overlook the importance of pictures!

Broken Man 1999
Posts: 1170
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 11:31 am

Re: How do you read books?

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:28 am

I read every book start to finish, though I will deviate if a section /chapter doesn't interest me, perhaps a finance book has a chapter on something I have no interest/need in reading.

Typically I have three of four books in progress at one time, as some of the finance books are very dry, and I have to be in the mood to read them.
Fiction books I generally blow thru pretty rapidly.

I thank my parents for my late entry into TV watching, as the lack of TV made me a voracious reader. Thanks Mom and Dad!

My career was in a technical field, and I took an Evelyn Woods speed reading course to help my read technical material more rapidly. Though, honestly, speed reading was more helpful in my leisure reading. One shouldn't read too fast when reading technical material.

I read on e-readers, and physical books, no particular preference.

One thing I have never been able to do is highlight, or write in a book! Just cant do it!

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

User avatar
cinghiale
Posts: 1141
Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2007 4:37 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by cinghiale » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:42 am

If you are asking about the dynamics of reading, may I suggest this short, fun, and informative book?

https://www.amazon.com/Little-Guide-You ... eve+leveen

Steve Leveen discusses previewing a book, the joys of side margin notes and highlighting, and keeping a reading journal. All this comes in service to, “it’s not what you read, it’s what you retain.”
"We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are." Anais Nin | | "Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious." George Orwell

2015
Posts: 1621
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:32 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by 2015 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:39 am

Shane Parrish nails it again:
I regularly read over 100 books a year and talk about what I’m learning on my blog. One of the most frequent questions I get is on how to read faster. This request almost always includes a link to a book, “scientific article,” or random blog post telling you how to read 10x faster while having a photographic memory.

It’s all bullshit. There is a way to read faster. But it’s not what you think.

The best way to read faster is to read more.
https://medium.com/the-mission/speed-re ... acbee7f59e

User avatar
Pajamas
Posts: 5707
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:32 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by Pajamas » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:40 am

When reading nonfiction, spend a few minutes reading the forward, the table of contents, and skimming through the index and any other appendices. That will give you an understanding of the purpose and organization and content of the book.

It also helps to flip through each chapter before reading it to understand the organization and content. Pay special attention to any organization guides such as a table of contents or bullet points found in them, too.

ytm
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:02 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by ytm » Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:55 pm

I used to read software books for my job on a regular basis. At first I'd read at night, often finding myself reading the same paragraph over and over again, retaining hardly anything. Later I decided to set the alarm an hour earlier and read before work. I thought I'd never stick with the routine - not a morning
person. But surprisingly, I began to look forward to it. Reading in total silence with the first cup of coffee was relaxing. Enjoyed it much more and was able to retain much more.

book lover
Posts: 134
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2012 4:01 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by book lover » Sun Jun 17, 2018 1:28 pm

For non fiction, I employ the 80/20 rule and read what I consider to be important. For fiction, I like to read the complete works of authors that I enjoy reading and use book reviews in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal as well as the iBooks Store for new books. In addition, I like to read around a subject to get more of a big picture view. Learning is one of the biggest pleasures of my life.

User avatar
Artful Dodger
Posts: 344
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2016 12:56 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by Artful Dodger » Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:40 am

Interesting question.

I read three or four books at a time. Usually one on Audible, one or two on my Ipad (apple book or Kindle app), and one or two print copies.

I listen to Audible from start to finish. All fiction, and most non-fiction, I'll read right through. On some non-fiction, I'll skim for overall content, and may skip or just skim what doesn't interest me or I may already know. I'm about dome with Malkiel's A Random Walk Down Wall Street. I read the book through completely, but am just skimming the section on derivatives. Am also going back through for some investment ideas to implement.

I'm reading Matthew Stewart's Nature's God. It's pretty dense philosophy, and I'm starting to skim some sections. I've got down the deist religion of our founders, but don't need the minute differences between Spinoza, Locke, and many of the other philosophers who were read prior to the revolution.

SagaciousTraveler
Posts: 92
Joined: Thu May 03, 2018 6:05 am

Re: How do you read books?

Post by SagaciousTraveler » Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:07 pm

Depends what your objective is.

For non-fiction books I split them into two categories.

1. Non work related subjects that interest me and I want to learn more about them. These types, I'll read from start to finish, rereading certain sections that I want to retain.

2. Subjects related to my work (Technology). I will skim to sections that I really want to learn, take notes and actually apply what I'm reading (If I can) so I can better understand.

Once again it all depends what you want to get out of the book.

RCL
Posts: 261
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2014 2:48 am

Re: How do you read books?

Post by RCL » Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:03 pm

I read from left to right
Sorry, couldn't resist; it's a slow day
It Is Best To Consult Others Before Taking Unusual Actions

User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
Posts: 46070
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: How do you read books?

Post by LadyGeek » Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:22 pm

˙uʍop ǝpısdn ƃuıpɐǝɹ ʎɹ⊥

Likewise.
Wiki To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

Frisco Kid
Posts: 341
Joined: Sun Nov 16, 2014 6:18 pm
Location: San Francisco Peninsula

Re: How do you read books?

Post by Frisco Kid » Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:32 pm

Best book have ever seen on the subject.......

https://www.amazon.com/How-Read-Book-Cl ... 0671212095

How to Read a Book by Adler and Van Doren

S&L1940
Posts: 1578
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:19 pm
Location: South Florida

Re: How do you read books?

Post by S&L1940 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:38 pm

TravelforFun wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:30 am
I tend to read two or three books at the same time on a tablet and they could be fiction or non-fiction. I read them mainly for entertainment value because I don't retain much shortly after I read them. TravelforFun
I too read several books at once both fiction and Non; sadly I am one of the three slowest readers on the planet - used to be # 4 but he died - and have both eBooks and real hard copy paper editions backed up. Tried skimming but I mentally sound out the words and wind up spending more time going back to re-read what I did not retain. Found that late night reading prior to losing consciousness is best for me. Advantage of eBooks is that they do not stack up on my night stand and clutter the floor. I prefer holding the real thing and turning real pages.
Don't it always seem to go * That you don't know what you've got * Till it's gone

101
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2015 9:10 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by 101 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:58 pm

ReadyOrNot wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 1:14 am
A professor once pointed out that grad students and effective learners spent a lot more time reading the preface, introduction, and table of contents than undergrads (who often ignored those sections). A rapid reading book also recommended doing this kind of pre-reading as well. The author tries to help you get the most out of the book there. Effective reading books advise skimming and pre-reading to get an overview and identify good or important parts.
+1. A lot of people learn how to read using fiction or other story books, which are read linearly; skipping around can even cause harm if it spoils something important, for instance.

Many academic texts can be better read by viewing them more like a hierarchy, and as you're ingesting them, trying to gain a progressively deeper understanding of the work as a whole. For instance, the title provides the broadest amount of information, the table of contents gives a more detailed account, the introduction still more detailed, then one might flip through the chapters to see in general what kinds of knowledge and arguments are used to explain those sections, and then one might delve into whichever chapter most interests them.

lightheir
Posts: 2273
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:43 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by lightheir » Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:59 pm

There is a big difference between reading a book versus studying a book for knowledge retention.

I am very good at reading books for knowledge retention. There is no shortcut it, and it takes a ton of work, no different than studying 4 scientific subjects in college or graduate school. Lots and lots of rereading, and lots of repetition especially on the sections which you are unfamiliar with.

I wish I could say that all this hard work to absorb nonfiction books or technical writing, was directly applicable to my nonfiction pleasure type reading, but I would be lying. They are two very separate things. And unfortunately, as much as I do enjoy reading nonfiction, I will not retain anywhere near as much or even a fraction of as much of the information, as compared to when I am studying it actively for knowledge retention and use. And when I do study it for knowledge retention, it becomes a lot less fun, especially when you are 3rd or 4th time.

I will, however add, that in my opinion, is shockingly low number of people have the patience or discipline it to reread non-fiction books coming including textbooks even if they are studying for college or graduate school, and those that do not are missing out on huge opportunities. It is no different than the amount of work required it to master a new intricate piece of music on the piano semi-coma there is no way you will play it once and remotely get it right or understand the nuances. It is only when you repeat, repeat, and repeat account with new eyes and New Perspectives each time that you become to achieve true Mastery. It often requires readings of multiple books on the same subjects, all with high-level attention, to get to the point where you can actively use it constructively.
Last edited by lightheir on Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sschullo
Posts: 2373
Joined: Sun Apr 01, 2007 8:25 am
Location: Rancho Mirage, CA
Contact:

Re: How do you read books?

Post by sschullo » Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:01 pm

Very slowly and then to help comprehend the material, I have written about 15 book reviews on Amazon. I have listened to some books on tape but prefer the ebook or the paperback.
Public School K-12 Educators: "Ask NOT what your annuity sales person can do for you, ask what you can do to be a Do-It-Yourselfer (DIY)."

Fallible
Posts: 6386
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:44 pm
Contact:

Re: How do you read books?

Post by Fallible » Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:17 pm

ying_yang wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:22 pm
I have noticed that for the majority of books I read I tend to read it in straightforward linear fashion from start to finish. Often I feel as though, relative to the amount of information in the book, the amount I actually retain is quite low. ...
When you say the “amount” you retain from reading is quite low, do you mean you comprehend it as you read but then forget it soon after or over time? Or are you having trouble comprehending it to begin with? Are these books that deeply interest you, or ones that don’t but you think you should or are required to read, such as for a class?

Thing is, there are many ways to read books as you can see from the responses here. I think it would be easier to tailor advice to your situation if we knew more about it.
Bogleheads® wiki | Investing Advice Inspired by Jack Bogle

User avatar
patrick013
Posts: 2255
Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2015 7:49 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by patrick013 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:45 pm

I love underlining and then going back and reread.
So I just read the first sentence of each paragraph
and don't read further unless it needs an underline.
Can read alot then at first glance, even a whole
newspaper.

Fiction I just casually read as that is for enjoyment
mostly, rather than reading and outlining techy stuff.
age in bonds, buy-and-hold, 10 year business cycle

scooterdog
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2013 7:42 am
Location: Potomac MD

Re: How do you read books?

Post by scooterdog » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:57 pm

Frisco Kid wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:32 pm
Best book have ever seen on the subject.......

https://www.amazon.com/How-Read-Book-Cl ... 0671212095

How to Read a Book by Adler and Van Doren
Came here to say this.

The concept of 'X-ray' is very useful - looking at the contents critically, basically how to pre-read before reading non-fiction.

User avatar
WestUniversity
Posts: 109
Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2017 7:27 am

Re: How do you read books?

Post by WestUniversity » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:08 pm

I read start to finish on an e-reader. Occasionally I will be in the middle of more than one book at a time...

caffeperfavore
Posts: 60
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:45 am

Re: How do you read books?

Post by caffeperfavore » Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:35 pm

Audiobooks!

You retain more of what you hear than what you read, so why fight it? I listen in the car, while doing the dishes, or going on walks.

I have a subscription to Scribd for audio and e-books, but if you have a good public library, you might have a good selection available for download.

BrklynMike
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2016 1:38 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by BrklynMike » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:32 pm

Highlight, underline, and annotate in the marginalia. At the end of every chapter, hand write the most important concepts, facts, or principles. Your comprehension and retention will improve dramatically.
"In a world of uncertainty, one should focus more on the consequences than the probabilities." - Benjamin Graham

User avatar
GoldStar
Posts: 99
Joined: Wed May 23, 2018 10:59 am

Re: How do you read books?

Post by GoldStar » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:40 pm

Frisco Kid wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:32 pm
Best book have ever seen on the subject.......

https://www.amazon.com/How-Read-Book-Cl ... 0671212095

How to Read a Book by Adler and Van Doren
But how will we know how to read THIS book if we haven't read it yet? :?

wootwoot
Posts: 111
Joined: Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:37 pm

Re: How do you read books?

Post by wootwoot » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:43 pm

To the OP. I read them one word at a time. Eventually I make it to the end.

mega317
Posts: 2247
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:55 am

Re: How do you read books?

Post by mega317 » Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:10 pm

Another thing that works for me is to talk about what I've read. Unfortunately for my wife that means she often gets cliff notes versions of books she's not particularly interested in! But she loves me enough to listen for a minute or two.

S&L1940
Posts: 1578
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:19 pm
Location: South Florida

Re: How do you read books?

Post by S&L1940 » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:20 pm

wootwoot wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:43 pm
To the OP. I read them one word at a time. Eventually I make it to the end.
Funny, that is the way I also do it. Learned that in grade school. Did you also go to school in the Bronx?
Don't it always seem to go * That you don't know what you've got * Till it's gone

Post Reply