How to read a business book

Posted on: July 29th, 2017 by bobmorris

Most of us are taught to read phonetically. In fact, the speed of light is far greater than the speed of sound. (The speed of sound is 767 mph whereas the speed of light is 670,616,629 mph.) The eye is a muscle that, like all other muscles, requires frequent and disciplined exercise. For the past 25 years, I have completed several times each day a series of exercises (each takes about five seconds) that strengthen my eyes.

Now, when I read almost anything (except legal documents and poetry), my eyes seem to “fly” through the text, top to bottom. Comprehension and retention seem to be determined by intelligence and prior knowledge. That is, you either “get it” or don’t.

In high school, college, and then graduate school, I was an impatient reader. I felt slowed down by “something.” I felt that I was reading in slow motion, running in waist-high water or on soft sand, etc.

Then I learned about research in the joint fields of optics & neurology at UCLA, obtained some information, and modified some of the “eye strengthening” exercises and devised a few others. Believe it or not, this really is a relatively brief explanation!

How do I read a business book?

1. First, the title and subtitle, then

2. Next, the table of contents

3. Then the preface and/or introduction

4. Finally, skim-read the first 2-3 chapters to become familiar with the format

On average, this process takes 10-15 minutes. At this point, I decide whether or not to read the entire book.

If my decision is affirmative, then as I begin to read each chapter, I skim-read in the sense that I proceed from one bold face heading to the next, then go back and read each chapter word-for-word. When I get to the last chapter, I read and then immediately re-read it. If there are appendices, I also read them.

Along the way, I highlight key passages. On average, this process takes 45-60 minutes.

One final point: This process works equally well with textbooks. Pay special attention to chapter titles and convert them into study guide questions as you work your way through the material. Think of them as street addresses or roadway numbers.

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