Never judge a book by its cover, or by its worst review on Amazon

Yes, I do this. A lot. You all get the point of it, and the basic need for it - too much content which we are constantly flooded with often requires a way to filter everything out. Sometimes, you miss out on really good books and ideas. That is the problem I want to attack in this blog post.

This is often good to apply to most of the books that I like to call one-idea wonder powered by a loop. This is when an author takes one idea and presents it in several different, often totally not related, and sometimes even opposing contexts, so they will have enough material for a book. In short, they need to justify the reason for writing a book for something that could have been a, sometimes even not that long blog post, or a newspapers article. I get it, we live in a capitalist society, where almost everything is valued by the revenue, therefore the need for the vast amount of (shitty) content.

Why I started this? I mean the blog post, not the blog itself (the latter still being in the discovery phase). Well, because I would like to find a better way to read books, and not just read them - to actually interact with them, to use them as a tool to broaden my horizons. Sorry if that sounds a bit selfish, but I guess, books will understand. Isn't that the reason why they exist, or at least one of the reasons?

How do I usually read books?

Well, first - depends on the book. If it is fiction, I usually go by this calculation - if a book is of sci-fi or epic fantasy genre, I'll often go and read it, sooner or later. If it's not, well I'd need a good argument on why should I read it, then I will put it on my read list. I remember somebody said those reading lists should be short, yeah, right?! Then, I'll go and immerse myself into the book, and sometimes I finish it, and sometimes not. Usually, when I don't connect with the book I tend to leave it unfinished.

If the book is a non-fiction book, I tend to have a different approach - get all the ideas from the book and get them now! This leads to me scrolling through the vast amount of reviews on why should or shouldn't one read this book, trying to find out opposing views, big ideas from the book without reading it... This is not a wrong approach per-se, but maybe it's an ill-timed one.

Why? Now that I think of it, maybe this is better, and more useful when you already read the book, or during the process of reading, when you discover some new idea or interesting thought? It definitely is a good approach, especially if you want to develop critical thinking. I most definitely don't do this, at least not during the reading of a non-fiction book.

What's my approach to non-fiction books now?

Just recently, I started with experimenting how to read non-fiction books better. As mentioned above, being impatient cannot help, so I decided on taking things slowly.

In the first step, I usually go into some kind of a meditative state so I don't get overwhelmed by different things, facts, reviews, and everything related to the book, besides the reading itself. Next, I try to find out excerpts from the book, or the table of contents to see if I find something appealing. If yes, then I try to find that book in the library or online. I prefer the e-book format rather than paper because I don't have to wait for it to be delivered. And also the environment, yes... 😬

Then I start reading the book. I had a lot of trouble teaching myself that I don't need to start from the beginning and go chapter by chapter until the end. I tended to lose motivation or focus not even halfway through the book so many times... So, when I get the book, I'll first go through the table of contents and read the summary, or the first part of those chapters whose titles I found interesting. I then move to other chapters. I do this in order to decide if the chapter appeals to me or not. If none of the chapters don't seem to have any impact on me, hello Amazon return policy! If some of it or all did, I go ahead and read those that did. Then I dive into the next, and the next, until I either read the whole book or leave the book lying somewhere, in some deserted archive directory (since it's an e-book).

When I finish reading, I often go through my notes... These notes often become something to explore or even write. And this is actually the most important thing you should do when reading a book (besides actively reading) - take notes! I will not cover the story of note-taking here, I'll leave it for some future blog post. Until then, I just want to mention this - always, just always, read with a pen in your hand. This will teach you to actively participate and really engage with the book you have in front of you.

This was a short one about my way of reading (non-fiction) books. Let me know in the comments below if you have any recommendations for me, what should I consider adding or removing from my current reading process, or leave your general feedback.

See you in two weeks with something new and (hopefully) interesting and thanks for staying until the end!