8 Methods For Burning Through Your Infinite Reading List

This is part 2 on reading lists.  Check here for part 1.

Ever since I’ve grown an appreciation and love for non-fiction books, I always found myself telling people “Oh man my reading list is so long, I keep adding books faster than I can read them.”.  It’s a real problem people!  #thestruggleisreal.

I’ve searched far and wide for reading strategies in order to consume the input quicker and more, and I’ve come up with some strategies that I’d like to share.  Note that most of the books I consume revolve around the topics of personal development, business, and psychology, so they relate best to this style of book, rather than say Fiction or History.

  1. Watch the TED Talk — many times the author has done a TED talk, or some sort of Keynote and covers the basic concepts of the book.
  2. Read their blog posts — I have found that in recent years, it’s becoming very popular for almost all authors, as part of their promotions, to write blog posts or articles on popular outlets or to guest post on popular blogs.  Because it’s promotional, it usually covers a few points, if not all the main points of the book
  3. Search for a Podcast the author is a guest on  – same as reading their articles/blogs, this has been a popular recent method of promoting their book and they normally cover it
  4. Google the summary – there are plenty of people like me, who like to write book reviews of what we’re reading.  They normally give good feedback, practical ways they’ve benefited, and favourite quotes.
  5. Blinkist –  In my quest to conquer more books, I figured if I was able to just get even some small ideas from a book summary, it would be better than never knowing those small ideas ever (or simply studying them at a later point).  I opted for the Premium version so that I could capture my highlights straight into Evernote, which is where I keep all my book notes anyways. ~$49-$79 annual subscription
  6. Speed read – this technique I used particularly in school going through dry textbooks.  I used the methods from 10 Days to Reading Faster as well as quick speed reading hacks from Tim Ferriss.  I value learning this skill early on as I’ve been able to implement some of the principles into my everyday life and is now second nature.  One skill from the book that I use to this day is to preview the book before starting and getting a feel of where the important bits are and non-important.  Then as I read through, I am able to quickly scan/skip the parts that don’t add value, and read in detail the parts that do.
  7. Audiobook – These are great for when you are commuting, particularly driving.  Driving is a pretty subconscious activity for most of the commute, so you are able to engage in the book quite well.  This is how I read Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh and I listened to part of Good to Great by Jim Collins as well.
  8. Audio-Hardcopy Hybrid – I haven’t tried this yet but I think I am going to give it a shot soon, I came across the method here.  Basically, listen to the audiobook at 2x speed (the basic app has this function already), and read along at the same time.  Comprehension and engagement increases as you are reading and listening at the same time, as well as it forces you to stay on pace.  2x seems a little fast for me so I may try 1.5x or some variant like that.

The first 5 methods I’ve listed are all ways of previewing the book.  They will either help you decide whether the full book is even worth reading, or help you understand the main points without having to read them.  This is how I have learned concepts from Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain after reading a blog post and a 10 point summary that was inside her book.  Lewis Howes – The School of Greatness is also another one, where I listened to a number of his podcasts and interviews and it seems he goes through a number of the same themes once consuming his other material.  The great thing about this was that I could essential receive his material without having to actually read, by lets say, listening to podcasts or reading the blog posts in places where I wouldn’t normally be reading, during a break at work, waiting for my wife in the change room, waiting at the dentist office, etc.

Hopefully through solving my own pain point, you can benefit.  Happy reading, listening, and/or tossing the book off your reading list!

Got anything you want to share or add?  Anything you want to talk about?  Would love if you reached out to me!  marcusscwong@gmail.com.  I won’t use your e-mail for any purposes, promise!

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