How To Read A Book

by Tobias van Schneider — First appeared in my personal email list.

You might think what the fish is wrong with Tobias, I know how to read a book! But let me explain: One question I got asked more frequently over the past couple weeks is: “How do you read so much, or find the time reading?”.

In fact, I changed my approach on how I read a book a while ago which since then has helped me to complete more books than I ever imagined. Obviously reading a book is not just about completion, but about observation and the effect it has on you.

I read because it opens my eyes, it makes me less judgmental and more open to new thinking outside of what I already know. Reading is a constant shift of perspective, a habit specifically designers should make their own.

A couple years ago I always struggled to finish books, as we all do. I had this set concept in my head on how I’m supposed to read a book. One after one, from start to finish. We think we have to honor a book as a work of art and follow it’s pages in order as we learned in school.

This mindset is outdated and often hinders us to read a book at all. In the age of blogs & twitter our reading behavior has changed to an extent that we established a fear of books. But there is no reason to follow the old rules, here is how I make it work for myself.

1.
Buy Multiple Books

Always buy multiple books at once, ranging from 3–10 at the same time. Never just get just a single one, thats a trap.(if you use a Kindle thats very easy to manage). Try to have at least 5 unread books available to you at any time, this will take away the excuse “I got nothing to read right now”.

2.
Read 3 books at once

Start reading 3–4 books at the same time, I rotate either depending on the day or on the mood I’m in. Mixing fiction with non-fiction often does the trick, but this is completely up to you.

Your favorites will automatically emerge out of the momentum you created, if you’re stuck on one, you continue on the second.

“Tsundoku,” the Japanese Word for the New Books That Pile Up on Our Shelves — Thank you @oriolnoya for the tip!

3.
Love it, hate it, destroy it.

Even if a book has numbered pages, you don’ have to follow them. Read a book the way YOU want. The moment you got a book, it’s fully yours and you can do whatever you want.

If you don’t like a certain page, rip it out. If you don’t like a chapter, skip it. If you like to just browse a book and read the chapters that interest you, just do it and on to the next book. No reason to feel guilty.

4.
Dismiss quickly.

If you started to read a book and you feel like you don’t like it at all. Put it away for some time and start a new one instead. Try to read it again a month later with a different mindset.

If you still can’t read it, gift it to a friend and forget about it. You don’t have to finish a book just because you bought it. Most of us are stuck with one book and don’t do anything about it for months.

5.
Make it your own.

A book is always as good as you think it is. Buyer reviews are great, but even if we both bought the same book, we will read a different one. That’s what is so magical about books, we read and interpret them completely differently depending on the situation we’re in.

The book on your shelf might be a different book in a year from now, always keep that in your mind.

6.
Carry a book at all times.

6. Carry a book at all times. (which can also be your Kindle) Every time you look at your phone in the bus/train/lunch break you could also read 3 pages of a book. No excuses.

7.
My trick to “read” it twice.

Reading a book twice has magical effects on us. The first time we read a book we often focus on the story and events as intended by the author.

The second time we read a book we engage with it on a deeper emotional level.
We project ourselves and our feelings into the story, it’s now about us!

There is even a detailed research paper on this topic
(which you probably don’t want to read)

Finding a way to read a book twice can be hard. Here is a trick I use for books I want to memorize. After I started reading a book for about a week, I purchase the exact same book on Audible and start listening to the audio version on my commute or other situations.

By doing this, I consume the same book just slightly delayed. The audio version is usually 20–40 pages behind the actual book but still close enough to feel like it’s a good reminder of what I just read.

These seven rules help me not only to read more, but more efficiently. Anything tricks you like to share? Please tweet me!


PS: This weekI launched a little page with my current & future book recommendations, all in once place. Feel free to share with your friends

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Tobias a Product Design Lead & Art Director at Spotify NYC. Founder of Authentic Weather & Semplice, Advisor & UX at memomi and member of the Board of Directors at AIGA New York— www.vanschneider.com