Learning how to read right can help you enhance your reading ROI by 10x. Here is a method that has worked for me after several trails and tribulations for reading non-fiction books.

I call this method as Reflective Reading.

The premise is we learn when we reflect on our experiences and not when we actually experience. As a user experience designer, I treat reading also as an experience.

When we actively engage in an experience we gain much. When we reflect on our active engagement we gain much more. When we passively engage we do not gain as much as we actively read.

Here are the steps you can employ for reflective reading

  1. Read the table of contents of the book for a few mins. Close the book or keep down your kindle and reflect on what you gathered just by reading TOC. Generally the author intently organizes and chunks the TOCs to set the context for the book.

    Activity: Jot down a few deep questions about the table of contents in a plain sheet of paper or Apple notes or Google Keep or whatever. With these questions in mind open the book again.
  2. The most interesting aspect of the TOC should launch you in that chapter. Don't worry about the order for now. Just skim through that chapter for a few mins.

    Activity: Keep the book down and just wonder about what you read and the kind of questions that is popping in your head.
  3. Repeat step 2 for a few chapters. In less than 10 mins you will know what kind of things are discussed in the book. The questions now enhances further.

    Caution: By now if the book did not kindle your interest, skip it and go for next book that is worth your time.
  4. If the book is interesting, go to chapter 1 and read intently. For every 10 mins, keep the book down. Jot down some key words, ideas and questions that are popping in your head in a structured note or a mindmap. I personally prefer mindmaps. Also mark if some previous questions got answered by this chapter. Finish the chapter.
  5. Repeat step 4 for all chapters. With each chapter the mindmap grows and so does your questions and your curiosity.

    If you are able to guess the plot or the drag by the author, try and do a SA (situation awareness) and see if you can guess some ideas. It is just a way of keeping your brain active and excited.
  6. When you have finished all chapters, the mindmap shows the various ideas discussed, examples/case studies for those ideas, author's perspectives and key take aways.
  7. On the same day, put down your understanding from your mindmap into a 10 pointer book notes or a rolling tweet.
  8. Sleep on this book for 2 days/nights. After 2 days look at the mindmap and the book and your book notes and see if it is all making sense. If you feel like it share your learnings in social media and invite discussions.
  9. Seek to answer all unanswered questions from your peers and friends. Write to the author as well (sometimes they respond). Discuss the book notes. Re-read the book and reflect on your notes one more time if you can make some 30 mins.
  10. At this point I do a 20X20 review for the book if the book touched me deeply.

Without deep reading there is no deep thinking. So read intently. I am not too particular about how fast or slow. The idea is to read intently. Surface reading takes you away from reflective reading. It helps you scrap the surface and takes you off deep thinking.

Enjoy your books by reflecting on the book. There are no brownie points to finish a book fast or slow. You don't even have to finish the book sometimes.

There are brownie points when you understand the key ideas from a book really well. That is the ROI, I am talking about.

I'll share my reflective reading process for the books I am yet to read this year.

I was hesitant to share this method out here as you have enough gurus talking about speed reading, book notes and more. What matters to your brain is what is assimilated, what is synthesised in the process and what is encoded. Our brain gets excited when it learns something new everyday. Keep feeding good ideas.

🥂 to reflective reading!

Subscribe to Karthi's Blog

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.