How to read, part 1


JP reminded me how he gets through an enormous number of books. He wrote about it as an aside in a longer post. I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him at length:

I tend to read management and technology books on a three-pass basis. First pass is a quick skim, taking no notes, just absorbing the feel of the book. If I find one compelling idea in it, the book makes it to pass 2, where I read more slowly, skip entire chapters along the way, but make notes. If I find I make more than three notes, I read the entire book even more slowly, in pass 3. Maybe 1 in 200 such books make pass 3.

There are two problems with this approach for me (specifically). Firstly, I don’t think I could absorb as much as JP from pass 1 – I suspect the clockspeed of my CPU doesn’t quite match his. Secondly, the quality and importance of my reading list has already been established, in particular the Books I Should Have Read. They ought to pass the initial filter easily.

Perhaps a hybrid approach might work – read the thing properly but skim certain chapters that don’t seem to be as relevant to me personally.

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