Tips on reading books

Posted on April 15, 2022

Photo by Gülfer ERGİN on Unsplash

In my post about the 2021 results, I mentioned that I read 40 books during the year. Today I want to share some tips that help me read books.

The recommendations are not revolutionary ones - but it works for me. You can apply these tips to reading books or learning from other sources like online courses.

Choose books according to your goals

We all find a lot of book recommendations from various sources: family and friends, colleagues, blogs and videos, ads, etc. It is impossible to read all the books on all topics you are interested in.

You can, of course, like Bill Gates, arrange a “Think Week” or even “Think Month” for yourself. But that is not a solution for everybody, for sure.

But what am I doing instead?

At the beginning of January, I make a plan for career development during the year. The format can be anything: simple text, mindmap, or even a massive scheme in Miro. You can have many different “branches” of developing hard and soft skills.

Then I choose one or two critical skills and focus on them for some time (e.g., a month). I mark which books or materials I want to read on the topic in each development branch during this month.

Alternate professional books and books “for the soul.”

For me it is not possible to read only professional books about programming, testing or any IT related topic. After reading a really hardcore book, the motivation to read another one is low.

So there is a simple solution for it: change the books, change the topics. Alternate from professional to any easy-to-read or “hobby” books. This approach helps to “unload” the brains after heavy technical literature. Popular science books help you broaden your horizons - and get new ideas from other industries and people.

Take notes when reading technical books

In 2021 I began to take notes from every book or course that I read.

When I summarize the lecture or a chapter in writing form, it helps me remember information better. Also, the notes can be your helping hand when you want to recall the material quickly.

Additionally, you can organize a record of books you have read - with your ratings and reviews. I use Notion for it. But Goodreads is also a good choice.

Find a dedicated time to read

There is no point in reading a book if you do not focus on the process. So please find a time for reading.

If you have a tight schedule during the day, you can book in calendar timeboxes dedicated solely to reading. Turn off notifications or the Internet and just read. Even 15 or 30 minutes per day can make a difference.

In my case, a working tip is to get up early and read. Yes - it is hard at the beginning but I get used to it very quickly.

This approach was recommended by Maxim Dorofeev in his book **“Jedi Techniques”.

Just create a table where you will write down the books you want to read, who recommended this book and why this book can be useful to you. It helps to be more conscious in choosing the next books to read.

Do not read the book if it is difficult or boring for you

People are different. Just because a book is included to must-read lists doesn’t mean it’s right for you at the moment in your life or career.

I started to read “DDIA” book and gave up several times. I returned to it only a few years later and read it with a great pleasure. The same applies in my case to Frank Herbert’s “The Dune.”.

Some materials or courses can be boring for you. Some authors prefer to repeat themselves on and on. Some books may be too simple for you: you may need something more than a “tutorial from the official site in book format.” The best way is to stop wasting time on such books and try a different ones.

What about you?
How do you read books?