Have you seen the Blinkist ad on YouTube or Facebook? Blinkist is a solution for people who are too busy to read but still wants to read, by getting them the key lessons from a book in 15 minutes.
Being a skeptical reader, I always wonder, is it possible? Will you get the key concepts in the same depth as if you’re reading the real book? Will you read the real book after?
I would say it’s not effective, but before we get into why, let’s talk a bit about how I read.
How I read to get the maximum value from the book
- I make time for the activity. I read almost all of my books on Scribd, an online book subscription, that’s easily accessible through my phone/tablet/laptop. But I need to set aside some time to read, at least 15 minutes per sitting, or else I would be distracted or thinking about something else.
- Read in my favorite environment. For me, I like to be in a room, alone, undistracted, except for some music. Most of the time it’s the Indie Pop playlist on Spotify, so it’s something that’s relaxing but I’m not familiar with (won’t be tempted to sing along).
- Highlight and make notes as I go. If it’s a physical book, I’ll highlight things with a highlighter. But now, since I read mostly on Scribd, it’s even more convenient. Once I’m done with the book, I’m able to go back to those highlighted parts. Highlighting things really helps me with retaining the interesting information I want to remember.
- Move those notes and highlights to another place (commonly referred to as the commonplace book). For me, that place is Roam Research (it was free when I signed up once upon a time, but it’s a paid application now). This step is also another chance for me to review what I’ve read and learned from the book, and to interpret what the book means to me.
- Update it on my Goodreads. This is mainly for recording what I’ve read in the past.
Don’t let reading be a mindless activity
In the past, I used to move from one book to another without pausing. My Goodreads profile was always updated with new books and pages read, but I didn’t even remember what I read the day before.
If your goal is to only add some random books to your book count, it’s easy to be mindless about it. You could be using an app like Blinkist and claiming that you’ve read the book, because you’re now familiar with the key concepts. But the experience is not the same.
How we get to the conclusion is as important as the content of the book.
Most of the time, authors explain in great length how they get to their conclusion or the concept, and by reading it, you’re invited to understand how their minds work as the book progresses. And with most books, we only read them once. We want this one time to be enough for us to get the essence of the book.
I’ve found that merely reading it and moving on to the next book isn’t enough.
Give some time for your brain to process the information.
First, by giving all your focus while reading.
Second, by highlighting.
Third, by making notes and a short summary.
What does the book mean to you? What are the interesting ideas that you’re exposed to? Does it change your perspective in any way? By asking these questions, you’re letting the book boils down to its essence in your own way.
Reading is a personal journey.
Whenever we highlight a passage in a book or make an effort to shift our behavior based on something we hear or read, this is the result of an identity screaming out that a piece of information will be useful.The Information Lifecycle by More To That