My approach to reading

Today I wanted to go ahead and share my approach to reading. Although this seems like a relatively straightforward process, it seems that quite often, when I share this with people, they are surprised.

Last year, I aimed to read 52 books. When I set out to do this, I knew just reading books front to back wasn’t going to do the trick. I had to figure out a way to get through books quickly while still retaining everything.
About four years back, I went through Howard Berg’s speed reading process (in fact, if you take a look at his webpage, you’ll find a testimonial from me, along with a very old picture). Although the process defiantly works, I found that it wasn’t all that enjoyable, and I struggled to comprehend all I was reading in the long term (it still doesn’t hurt to give it a try, though. I know some people who rave about it)

I also tried a pretty unique process two or so years ago – although I got through books slower, it did help with my retention. I highlighted everything that stood out to me as I went along and then took pictures of these passages and sent them to a voice actor or assistant. They would then read these aloud, and I would listen to a recording of excerpts from books every few months. That didn’t last long because although I guess I retained a bit more, it wasn’t all that necessary and was defiantly a pain. 

I’ve also tried Blinkist multiple times (for those who don’t know, they’re just cliff notes, but you have the option of listening to them). I just logged into my account, and here’s every book that I completed when just using Blinkist normally.

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And here’s what I’ll tell you – the only lessons I remember from this list are Rework, Give and Take, and Creative Schools (and a tiny bit of the Airbnb Story). Why? Well, those were the three books from this list that I read. With those books, I read them after listening to the Blink, but I wondered what would happen if I reversed the order. After reading the book, I could listen to the Blinkist every six months or so to re-enforce the lessons. So that’s exactly what I tried.

But, believe it or not, I had never really tried the Audiobook thing either (not sure why). I gave this a try but found I had to follow along with the book too. I also found that Audiobooks are incredibly slow. I tried speeding then up to 1.5x, and it was still about the speed of a Youtube Video or Podcast or normal speed. I sped it up to 2x speed. Still pretty slow. I’ve found that 2.2x-2.5x speed is the sweet spot if that’s all I’m doing, and about 1.7-2.2x speed is the sweet spot if I’m doing something else at the same time. This may be too fast for some and too slow for others. Find your sweet spot and run with it.

Finally, I found a process that works for me. It’s pretty simple but allows me to get through books the fastest while comprehending what I read and putting it into practice. Here it is;

1) Order the physical book & audiobook – Yes, this can get expensive. But either way, I like having a copy of every book I’ve read so I can refer back to it down the road. If you aren’t like me, you can always check the book out from your local library or buy a used copy. You can even buy an Ebook version and load it on a Kindle or Remarkable.
I’ve also found that you can return unlimited books to Audible, as long as it’s within a year of when you first bought it. Plus, as long as you return it after seven days of purchasing the book, the author still gets a royalty. I try only to do this if I don’t plan on rereading the book or didn’t enjoy it, and hence still have 41 titles in my Audible library as I write this, and have paid over $600 to Audible in the past year (between credits, one-off titles, and subscriptions). This doesn’t include the thousands I’ve spent buying the books, lots of which from their parent company, Amazon.

2) Listen to the audiobook while following along with the physical book 

3) Every few months, listen to/read the Blinkist

4) Occasionally, I’ll re-read the entire book a year or so later

And that’s about it! I’d be curious to hear if any of you have a process of your own for reading, and perhaps I’ll incorporate some of your tricks into my process.