Ep 81 – April 28 – How I read a book, today

Martin Uncut
Martin Uncut
Ep 81 - April 28 - How I read a book, today

I am a reading person. I always read, sometimes more. Today I will probably receive “How to Read a Book” by Mortimer J. Adler. In todays episode I wanted to talk a bit about how I do my reading today. And maybe in a few weeks we can talk about any potential changes I will do.

I have lists of books that I want to read. It can be both fiction and fact-based. When I want to read something I usually review this list. But sometimes I go to the library and just browse the shelves. That can give you insight to new authors or topics you would never otherwise gravitate towards. And sometimes I just read about a book or someone tells me about a book that I just must read and then I can just get it, by passing the lists.

My book-list is in Obsidian and may not be what you call a traditional list. It is essentially a group of notes with the “To Read”-tag. I headline the note with the title of the book but I also note things like; author, language, URL (to a book store), ISBN and tags. This helps me to prioritize the books when I want to choose something. I usually order books a couple at a time to save on freight. This note will eventually become the literature note as I read and process the book.

Most of my books are physical books. But I do read ebooks on both my Kindle and my Remarkable 2. Sometimes also on my iPad. I definitely prefer physical books. They are something you interact with in a different way. You can browse through a physical book in a way you cannot with an ebook. But sometimes, especially when traveling, it is heavy to lugg around with books in your bag.

When I have chosen a book I start by looking at the covers of it. I read the back of the book. Then I continue inside and read the table of contents and try to get a feeling of the structure. What can I understand from the journey the author wants to take me through. Then I browse through the book from start to end – I read all the chapter titles and all the headlines. After that the final preparation is to read the dedication and introduction. While doing this I try to understand the purpose of the book. What is it the author is trying to convey and why. I can at any point here take the decision that – no, this book is not for me. And I am happy to put it on the shelf. 15min well spent. If I decide not to read it – I usually write why in the notes about the book. I often come back to books that was initially rejected. But some go away. If I at this time decide to read the book – I usually read the whole book. Not always but almost.

I read the book from cover to cover. And while I do that I take notes on what I read. I am very carful not to copy the text from the book but to write with my words explaining for my future self. This can be either in a note book (paper or Remarkable 2) but it will end up on the note about the book. I read with a purpose to understand and to learn. Usually in chunks of 30min – or if I read in the morning it can be a lot more since that is the time of day where my mind is the most clear and non sleepy. I never read if I’m tired since that makes it really hard for me to comprehend what I read. And then it is just wasted time.

When the book is read I make sure I have all my literature notes in the Book note. I will then go through these and start to write a summary of the book. I outline the important concepts and topics discussed. This is so that I can quickly get an overview of the book when I come back to the note. If I want further information I can go to the notes I did that all have a page number as a reference and I can quickly and easily find my way back to the source. During this process I also capture Ideas and concepts that goes into my Zettelkasten system as notes there. This last part is something that is pretty new to my flow – but it is a very important part since it will tie this new knowledge into the knowledge I had before. Again here it is really important that it is my own word and my own thoughts based on what I read. I usually link the thought back to the Book-note so that I can now the source of it or what triggered that Ideas. If a topic or an idea already exists I will add the new link to the note.

I have not in the past written any book review on the books that I read. I plan to do that maybe going forward. Not a promise or a commitment! But I haven’t been writing anything real for a while and I miss that a bit. Currently I’m ready Daniel Pinks “Drive”, a book about motivation. I will probably talk about that i a few days and then I will probably also talk a bit about the new books I bought.