I’ve been trying to figure out a better way to read. I treat all reading as a one way door. I expect to come out the other side a changed man. However, most books are two way doors. You go in have a drink at the bar, maybe a short conversation with the author and you come back out and move on with your life.
Treating all reading as one way doors is a good way to not read more. There is too much pressure, and for me anyways I feel like I need to put a lot more energy into it than I do. But if I think of the real profound reading I have done there are only a few one way door books:
- Science, Strategy, and War
- Good Profit
- How to Get Rich
- Never Split the Difference
- Structure of Scientific Revolutions
- Structure and Interpretations of Computer Programs
- The Power of Myth
- The History of Sexuality
- Civilization and Its Discontents
- Leaders Eat Last
What I have found is that most books are driven by an incentive to achieve a certain length. They tend to be about 200 pages even though the primary idea can be summed up in 5-10 pages. This is especially true of business books and pop psychology. Finding the 1-2 things that the author is trying to convey and skimming the rest seems to be effective and makes time more useful.
Biographies have a lot of dates and specific facts which may not be important. I suppose one of the things I am trying to do with biographies is what am I trying to get out of it. Am I trying to understand the history or the person? Am I trying to understand the specifics period of their life or the theme of their life? Again allows for a lot of skimming of sections that aren’t as important.
I don’t really read fiction so no opinion on that.
For my one way door reading I am looking at Lindy’s Law. If a book has been around for a couple years and still recommended then it is likely still good. If it has been around for a few millennia and still recommended then that is likely still really good. Those I want to spend time reading.