Reading business books is a huge investment of time and money, so you want to get the most value you can from the books you read. That starts by being intentional about the books you choose to invest in and it continues through your reading process. I asked the members of our Intentional Reading Panel what they did to get the most value out of the books they read. There are links to their individual posts below. Here are some of the highlights.
Have A Process for Reading a Book
Our panel members don’t just pick up a book and start reading. Instead, they have a particular way they go about making sure they get value.
Art Petty reads the preface and intro and then the first and last chapters before he works his way through a book. Stephen Lynch reviews samples of e-books before he buys them from Amazon. Kevin Eikenberry suggests that you identify your purpose for reading the book so that can guide your attention.
Mike Figliuolo tries to put what he’s read to work right away. If it’s a single idea, he tries to put it into practice immediately. If it’s an entire process, he tries to apply the process to a single project before adopting it totally.
Tanmay Vora likes to pick out books that “speak to me.” He also makes it a point to schedule quiet time when he’s not likely to be disturbed to read.
Take Notes and Review Them
I thought it was interesting that the panel members all did both. They took notes and they reviewed their notes. I know lots of people who highlight their books and make notes in the margin, but never go back to review those notes. Doing both gets you exceptional value.
There was one exception to this rule. Art Petty makes notes and reviews them when he’s reading a business book, but if he’s reading history or biography, he reads straight through without annotation and without interruption if possible.
Panel members who read paper books use highlighters and make marginal annotations. Those who read e-books use the highlight and note-taking features available there.
There were two special practices worth noting. Terry Moore says that Dragon Speaking is serviceable for making comprehensive notes about books that he reads. Tanmay Vora makes notes as he goes, but then makes sketch notes to “learn slowly and visually.”
Share What You Learn
It’s a truism that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach others. Our Intentional Reading Panel members take that to heart. Terry Moore writes book reviews, speeches, and summaries that he shares with clients on his regular mailing list. Kevin Eikenberry shares interesting ideas with friends and colleagues and writes book reviews for his blog. Tanmay Vora incorporates his learning in sketch notes about the books he reads and in visual book reviews.
Other Value-Enhancing Ideas
Kevin Eikenberry reminded us that you don’t have to finish a book. If you’re not getting value, including a good experience, from your reading, there’s no law that says you must continue. Close the book and move on to something else that will be more helpful.
Tanmay Vora pointed out that he really likes chapter summaries and takeaways. I think many readers do. My practice is to highlight most of my notes in any book in the same color except for chapter summaries. I use a different color for those so they’re easy to spot.
Terry Moore has the habit of meeting with three other people to meet and discuss books of mutual interest. They go through the books chapter by chapter, discussing what they learned and what questions they might have.
The members of the Intentional Reading Panel have developed their own unique ways to get the most value from a business book. That’s a good idea for you. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the things that they all do. They all take notes and review the notes. They all find ways to share their learning, which also helps drive that learning deeper into their brain.
Here’s a list of links to each of their posts on getting value from their reading.