You Are Reading Wrong; Here Is How I Read to Make the BEST Out of Books
I have read more than 200 books in the past 2 years just to realize I was reading wrong. Yes, you heard that right.
I started reading books in 2020 and initially, I used to love reading so much that I would forget that I had to eat and pee. Yes, that’s me.
And although I was proud of myself for being so much in love with reading, I never got to know ‘if what I am reading is worthy enough to have my attention and how these black words can transform my life’
Everyone makes big claims on social media that ‘reading is one of the shared habits of all successful people’ and ‘reading can transform your life’ and ‘how Bill Gates and Warren Buffet read 50 pages in a day’ or whatever sh*t they are telling you.
But let me you this: BOOKS DON’T CHANGE LIFE. BOOKS ARE JUST A COLLECTION OF BLACK WORDS.
If you don’t know how to read then it’s just a waste of time.
And since I have wasted mine, I don’t want you to do the same. I have learned 5 common mistakes that people make — that you must avoid and 5 Principles that you must apply while reading (Ryan Holiday also stands by these principles)
1. Don’t read a bestselling book; Read Classics
Reading a bestselling book means, you are reading what everyone is reading. And since you are reading what everyone else is, you will think exactly what everyone else is. To think differently, you have to read the books that people are reluctant to buy.
I have asked 40 people how they choose books. And the answer was either they pick a bestselling book or they just see on Instagram if any book is popular among book bloggers.
All the successful first ask themselves “What subject/topic they would like to know more about” and then they pick a book accordingly. If you are reading a book just because it’s a bestseller but has nothing to do with the problem you face in your life then you are just wasting your time and money.
The best books are the CLASSICS. They are classics for a reason. And leaders like Ryan Holiday read Classics while readers like everyone reads whatever is trending on social media.
So, go and search for the best classic as per your interest. Instead of reading Can’t Hurt Me for mental strength, read Meditation by Marcus Aurelius.
Know this, to think out of the box, you have to read books that are extraordinary and beyond the understanding of people who spend their time on social media.
2. Don’t read cover to cover:
One of the biggest myths spread on reading is that you should read every single word till the very last page. According to Ankur Warkioo, Jay Shetty, Naval Ravikant, and many other influential people, one shouldn’t read books cover to cover.
The reason behind skimming through books is best put by Ankur Warrior. He says, “most nonfiction books are better as blog posts.” Naval RaviKant to Dan Lok, everyone says, “we have limited time which we shouldn’t waste on books that don’t deserve our attention”
And I have the best solution to this problem in the form of, SHORTFORM. Shortform produces uber-high-quality guides to non-fiction books. And their guide is so good that you wouldn’t need to read the book. For example; The other day, I read Seth Godin’s book, The Practice on Shortform. If I had read the entire book, it would have taken almost 6 hours aka 5 days.
But I read a Shortform guide that helped to grasp the key aspect of the book within 30 minutes in an actionable format with a questionnaire on how I can implement what I read. This saved my time and also helped to learn whatever the book had to offer.
The best part is it’s available to download as an app as well in both ios and android so when you feel like scrolling social media, just scroll Shortform — read the book (also available on your kindle device)
3. Don’t Make Notes Instantly; Make Smart Notes with Effie:
Most people make notes just after reading a thoughtful quote, sub-topic, or page. Studies show that when you make notes instantly, you disturb your concentration, and moreover, you wouldn’t be able to understand the topic.
The idea of taking notes is after completing a whole chapter so that you force your mind to remember what you have learned. Dr. Jordan says, “Read a couple of paragraphs or maybe an essay or something like that depending on the density of the book. Close the book. Think about it. Write down what you are thinking, write down what you remember.” He asks us to separate the function of reading and note-taking.
He further says, “Don’t read a sentence and then write down that sentence. That’s not helpful. You can read the sentence, close the book, think about it, and then formulate a sentence so that it’s your sentence. This is how you will understand the book.
But how can you make smart notes that help you to connect the dots of the book like an image? I use Effie for taking notes and creating mind maps. I always thought that mind maps are tough but with Effie, things are simpler. Here is an example of how I use Effie:
When you use mind maps, you force your brain to think about what you just read and how it is integrated into your life. I use mind maps to not only remember what I read but to grow my understanding of the subject strong as well.
When I am using mind maps for taking notes from books, it helps me to draw a clear picture in mind as to what I learned, how I will implement it, and which topic is more important than the other (helping you declutter unnecessary information)
Also, initially, when I started taking notes on paper, I used to make excuses that ‘oh there wasn’t really anything significant to write or I shall remember everything’ Because I don’t like to write on paper that much.
That’s when Effie came as a rescue. Not only writing on Effie is easier but also fun, aesthetic, and pretty. You can color-code things like this:
The more colors you use, the more interesting the process will become. And reading it would not feel like just black words coming to attack you.
You can also add pictures of any page that inspired you way too much. And the best thing is you can export your notes in the form of images as well which you can use as your wallpaper to quickly remember everything. This feature is best for students who have exams. Your notes are always in front of your eyes.
So, I would definitely ask you to go ahead and use Effie for mind-mapping or taking notes, or creating a mini library of your own. It’s the only tool I use and I love how easy it is. (You can download Effie from here) If you are an avid reader or student, this app is going to be a goldmine for you. You can download it on Ios and android as well.
Thank me later for these easy-to-use mind maps and note-taking app that makes things easy to understand, learn, and organize.
4. Visit Your Notes Monthly:
According to some studies, “you can retain only 10% of what you read” and that’s why people started the trend of taking notes.
In order to refresh your memories with the book, you must read your own notes every month. Reading your own notes will help you to remember the lessons, observe your thinking pattern, realize what you felt while reading the book and above all, you get a reminder that you still need to take action on what you have learned.
This is the reason, I asked you to use Effie as that will help you to visit your notes anytime, anywhere, and on any device without losing them. In fact, whenever you feel the urge of using social media, just visit your notes on Effie for 5 minutes. Even after that if you have the urge to scroll social media, go ahead. But with me, I get lost in my notes that I dig deeper into those mind maps.
5. Implement One Thing; Turn Words into Action:
Nonfiction books are all about transforming your life by TAKING ACTION. However, people consume self-help content these days to feel productive and proud of themselves.
You need to understand that knowledge wouldn’t change your life but implementation will. Hence, whenever you read a book, ask yourself ‘what is the one lesson that I can implement from this book that will transform my life?’
Then take action on that one lesson/idea for 21 days until it becomes your habit.
You need to turn what you read into your habits. It’s the action that counts not the intention.
Pro tip: Just read the summaries of Shortform as they are all about actionable steps that you can implement from today onward. Then install Effie to create a mind map of one thing that you plan to implement with an actionable plan of your OWN. This is precisely what I do with self-help books. You need to be smart with these things. Save your time, learn the same lessons in less time and take action with a full-fledged plan.
These are the 5 step formulas that are followed by every successful person. I am also following these 5 steps and I can guarantee you that the results that you are going to experience are life-changing. I hope now you not only read books but understand them and make the most out of them.