by Demian Farnworth | @demianfarnworth
If you’re like me, you like to read.
And you like to read a lot.
Some people might call you obsessed. [I get that all the time. No surprise since I try to read 100 books a year--and make it a challenge. My wife loves me for that.]
But it can be frustrating. Demands. Lack of time. Big books.
If that’s you, you’re not alone.
Like most determined and driven writers, professionals or students, you have a list of books the length of your arm. A list you want to finish by the end of the year.
Ambitious, but naive.
However, there’s a way to read more books in less time–and even catch up with the classics you’ve missed.
But I’m not talking about speed reading here. I’m talking about something different.
The Steps: Read Any Average-Sized Book in 2 Hours
Imagine you want to read Chip and Dan Heath’s book Made to Stick. Let’s also pretend you only have 2 hours.
Follow these steps to read this 291-page book in that time:
1. Determine your reading goal.Superficial? Inspectional? Analytical? All you really want to learn are the principles behind making ideas stick.
2. Skim the table of contents. The first 6 chapters of the bookcover the principles. You’ve also got an Epilogue, Acknowledgments, Notes and the Index.
3. Determine what you have to read. According to your goal, all you really have to read are the first 6 chapters.
4. Break the chapters down into time blocks.Since you only have 2 hours, spend only 20 minutes per chapter.
It’s a lot like runners who pace themselves during a race. They know to finish a ten mile race in 2 hours they need to run one mile every 12 minutes. The same principle can apply to reading.
Let me tell you why using this method is important.
Why Chapter Pacing Is Important
I like to call the method I just described “chapter pacing.” But why read this way?
If you don’t chapter pace, then you’ll end up spending 1 hour and 45 minutes on the first three chapters–but blazing through the rest.
The result: an imbalanced understanding of the book.
Chapter pacing eliminates the problem of imbalance and frustration. Why? It allows you to give the essential topics equal study.
More importantly, when you spend less time on scannable books, you have more time to crawl through the heavier ones.
When Not to Read This Way
Nor would you read this way if you were trying to memorize something.
However, most contemporary business books like Made to Stick are heavy on ideas but light on content. They’re prime for the two faster styles of reading: superficial and skimming. As are any of the five usability books every web writer must read, except for Morville and Rosenfeld’s obviously.
Whenever you approach a book, determine your reading goals. Then plan your reading accordingly.
This way you can comprehend more in less time. And stockpile in your brain only the essential and important ideas.
So tell me, what do you think of chapter pacing? And share any tips or ideas or links you might have for speed reading.