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How to Read & Learn Effectively

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HackVenture

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I was pleasantly surprised by the positive response I had towards the notes I shared for Principles over here and figured I'll figured I've also put up my notes for other books I've benefited greatly from as well since they're just sitting there in my Evernote.

For what it's worth, I guess I'll also share how I consume books and other information products.

I love reading, and I honestly suspect that I read too much sometimes.

Ever since I adopted a more streamlined approach, I feel less guilty about reading nowadays.

I'm putting up a quick post, if there's interest and it's helpful perhaps I will organize the points and elaborate on them further.

- do not be afraid to abandon books. Never feel obliged to finish books you don't enjoy or find that you don't benefit from. At the same time, don't be afraid to come back to books you skipped previously.

- remember that magical feeling you get when you read certain books and don't feel like putting them down? That should happen with all books. If reading feels like a dread, you probably don't need the info at that point in time, or ever.

- when reading physical books, take notes with evernote. I have a folder in evernote named "course notes" in which I take notes for good books and information products I consume.

- I recently switched to Android and discovered this great reading app called Pocketbooks which I suspect may result in me drastically reducing the number of physical books I purchase. I go through books with the stylus on my Note 8 nowadays, highlighting important parts as I go through them and at the end of it, I can simply do an export of all notes I've highlighted.

I would also love to hear how you guys consume info products, since there are so many pro's here; every little edge counts in business!

Shall also add on to this list as time goes by.

As promised, here's a compilation of notes for some of my favorite books.

Principles by Ray Dalio
The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone
How to be an Imperfectionist by Stephen Guise
Hustle by Neil Patel, Patrick Vlaskovits, Jonas Koffler
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
Secrets of Great Achievers by Darren Hardy
Deep Work by Cal Newport
The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco





 

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p0stscript

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do not be afraid to abandon books. Never feel obliged to finish books you don't enjoy or find that you don't benefit from. At the same time, don't be afraid to come back to books you skipped previously
Sound advice
 

S.Y.

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Many people don't actually "read" books, they simply turn pages.

Ever since I read How to read a book from Mortimer, I have put in place a system to read & learn better. I will suggest everyone read it.

How can you read & learn more effectively?

1. Choose your books wisely. Francis Bacon said: "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention."

Useful questions you can ask yourself:
- Does the book contain information that will help you solve a problem you have now? If yes, is there any other better way to go about acquiring the info?
- Has the book stood the test of time? Will the book be relevant in the next five years?


2. Make yourself an idea of the structure of the book
Read the table of contents, the conclusion and the introduction.
- What is the author main idea, main goals, and how does he plan to arrive there?
- What are the main and pivotal chapters? (Stop here and there to read few pages)
- Be curious, read few chapters or paragraphs?

(90% of the book I came across were dropped at this point.)

3. Read the book
You decided to read the book? Great! I take reading as a conversation with the author. His aim is to convince us of something, our goal is to understand his position and then make a judgement. At this point, if you read paper books, get a pencil. For electronic version, they usually have highlighting features.

As you read:
- ask yourself questions. and write them Why is the author saying X? Why is he concluding B from A? What is his assuming to be true? How does that fit into my current knowledge of the subject covered? etc...
- highlight things you find interesting
- takes notes of your thoughts (You will be surprised by what comes out of them)
- after each chapter, write down the key ideas and/or things that you find useful
- at the end of the book and without looking back, summarize what the book is about and the main proposition.
- critic the book: do you agree with the author? Why? What would make you agree or disagree?
- reread if the book deserves it

(Evernote comes handy here. It is what I used to take notes and summarize things)


4. After 1 or 2 weeks, go over your notes and highlights.
- What is still relevant?
- What changed since you read the book?
- Create notes with things you want to keep
----------

Further reads:
 

S.Y.

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I don’t even read books much anymore, I mostly read forums. Much faster source of information lol

Audiobooks are fun sometimes, too.
For some type of knowledge, there are more efficient acquisition method than books (hence why I ask myself "If yes, is there any other better way to go about acquiring the info?").

But, I think we are outsourcing our thinking a bit too much. There is value in going through the thinking process, in understanding the arguments, its nuances and how ideas have been constructed. It takes us from acquisition to understanding and improves our thinking process overall.

As an example: say you want to better understand competitive forces. You do some research and find Porter's five forces.
a. You can read a forum, stop there and you will have a good overall idea
b. Or you can pick a book and go further:
- you will understand that the barrier of entries is the most important of the forces
- you will understand why the combination of economies of scale and customer captivity is the most durable form
- you might go further and grasp the difference between strategic and tactical decisions
- maybe come across game theory, and how it is played by companies

The next time you see a company doing something you find dumb (google following Apple on the no headphone jack), you will understand why they are acting that way.

Or when you are executing on your idea, you will have an additional tool to determine what you should do:
- what is the best way to enter the market?
- Should you invest more in strategy? What are your competitors doing? How your action will impact them? How are they likely to react? (and perhaps if you have read about Bayes theorem, incorporate that as well)
- should think more tactic? purely focusing on operational effectiveness?
- etc...

So now, you not only understand the subject, but you also have the thinking mechanics - a mental model - with which to engage the words.

I tried audiobooks, just not for me. Lol.

** edited for readability
 
Last edited:

Joaquim

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But, I think we are outsourcing our thinking a bit too much. There is value in going through the thinking process, in understanding the arguments, its nuances and how ideas have been constructed. It takes us from acquisition to understanding and improves our thinking process overall.
This is so true, hope many members will read this.

That said it's also easy to hide behind 'reading books'. It makes you feel like you spend your time wisely, instead you actually avoided the work that was waiting on you.

I hold myself the challenge of reading max 1 book a week, but only when work isn't running behind.

I like to add this quote from one of the greatest minds:
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn't read all the time — none, zero.” - Charlie Munger
 
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HackVenture

HackVenture

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Many people don't actually "read" books, they simply turn pages.

Ever since I read How to read a book from Mortimer, I have put in place a system to read & learn better. I will suggest everyone read it.

How can you read & learn more effectively?

1. Choose your books wisely. Francis Bacon said: "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention."

Useful questions you can ask yourself:
- Does the book contain information that will help you solve a problem you have now? If yes, is there any other better way to go about acquiring the info?
- Has the book stood the test of time? Will the book be relevant in the next five years?


2. Make yourself an idea of the structure of the book
Read the table of contents, the conclusion and the introduction.
- What is the author main idea, main goals, and how does he plan to arrive there?
- What are the main and pivotal chapters? (Stop here and there to read few pages)
- Be curious, read few chapters or paragraphs?

(90% of the book I came across were dropped at this point.)

3. Read the book
You decided to read the book? Great! I take reading as a conversation with the author. His aim is to convince us of something, our goal is to understand his position and then make a judgement. At this point, if you read paper books, get a pencil. For electronic version, they usually have highlighting features.

As you read:
- ask yourself questions. and write them Why is the author saying X? Why is he concluding B from A? What is his assuming to be true? How does that fit into my current knowledge of the subject covered? etc...
- highlight things you find interesting
- takes notes of your thoughts (You will be surprised by what comes out of them)
- after each chapter, write down the key ideas and/or things that you find useful
- at the end of the book and without looking back, summarize what the book is about and the main proposition.
- critic the book: do you agree with the author? Why? What would make you agree or disagree?
- reread if the book deserves it

(Evernote comes handy here. It is what I used to take notes and summarize things)


4. After 1 or 2 weeks, go over your notes and highlights.
- What is still relevant?
- What changed since you read the book?
- Create notes with things you want to keep
----------

Further reads:
Excellent summary, thank you!
 
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HackVenture

HackVenture

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I don’t even read books much anymore, I mostly read forums. Much faster source of information lol

Audiobooks are fun sometimes, too.
Agree that there are much faster sources of information, but books are usually presented in a structure that favours a more complete understanding of the subject matter.

The key I guess, is to identify whether it is worthwhile to devote the amount of time required to devour a book as compared to a bunch of forum posts.
 
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HackVenture

HackVenture

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I hold myself the challenge of reading max 1 book a week, but only when work isn't running behind.
I think a challenge of "x hours per day" on reading is more meaningful than 1 book a week as there's such a large variance in book length?

And if you agree with what I've shared above, you'll abandon many books halfway through, which again will cause your KPI to be nulled.
 

TonyStark

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Agree that there are much faster sources of information, but books are usually presented in a structure that favours a more complete understanding of the subject matter.

The key I guess, is to identify whether it is worthwhile to devote the amount of time required to devour a book as compared to a bunch of forum posts.
I meant “relevant”. But I agree.
 

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