Daily Productive Sharing 078 - 手术式阅读

One helpful tip per day:)

(The English version follows)

如何最大效率地阅读 nonfiction 类书籍?今天的分享中,作者给出的建议是同时阅读基本上同一题材的书籍,当然这样的阅读需要遵循以下步骤:

  1. Approach a book
  2. Judge a book by its cover
  3. The index is everything
  4. Use the TOC as the skeleton
  5. Preview with the preface

这里面最有意思的是第三步,索引中往往有作者列出的关键词和对应的页码。我们通常可以通过对应页码的数量来判断这一关键词的重要性(可以理解为一个权重)。如果作者给出的高权重关键词恰好也是我们感兴趣的,那么这本书就会让我们更感兴趣(信息熵相对较高)。

It’s a process I’ve developed called surgical reading and it means that when I’m reading a non-fiction book, I focus on locating and removing the most valuable pieces of information from it quickly as possible.
Reading shouldn’t be about checking titles off of a todo list, it should be an exploration of what fascinates you.
I love startups. From a learning perspective, they allow you to fully immerse into new fields and, by their nature, force you to solve real problems. This has informed my own personal approach to learning and therefore to reading. I don’t build a knowledge base just to have knowledge. I build it to use it. Typically as soon as I can.
Before I start reading a non-fiction book, I’ll take between 5-10 minutes and try to get a sense of what value it has to me and how it is structured.
You can take any path you want, but for me, the index is my first stop after the title. Armed with a guess of the book's point of view from the title, I use the index to understand what topics we’re going to cover and hopefully how we’re going to approach them.
Any time something in the index interests me, I’ll write it down. I do this on a physical notecard or in a document. So, by the end of reading the index I’ll have all of the most interesting and relevant pieces of information in one place.
The TOC shows the way the author wants you to understand the progression of the book. (Like the title, authors also think about what the TOC looks like.) It gives you the big picture of the approach. Then the index helps you fill in the types and level of details.
You could start your process at the TOC if you want to, but I have found that starting with the index and overlaying that research on top of TOC is most helpful.
After I’ve contemplated the title, mapped out the book with the index and the table of contents, I typically skim the preface to see how the map that I created in my mind matches what the author is telling me as they introduce the book. It’s a feedback loop on my own deductive ability.
In the preface, good authors will tell you right away what the book is about and where it is going. In that way, the preface is like the trailer to a movie. Maybe you see Ben Affleck and Pee Wee Herman are co-starring and lose interest. Maybe the author makes a point you never thought of, and you become more interested. Follow that instinct.
So how do I get those useful knowledge nuggets? I use the index map (page numbers) and again, I follow my interests or problem-solving needs. I start by reading the pages corresponding to the seemingly useful parts from the index. Yeah, right in the middle of the book. Feel free to just start reading on page 212. Seriously.
One thing I appreciate about notations in a book is that it allows you to track your thinking about the book over time. If you do end up coming back later, these little notes can serve the same purpose that commenting your code does.
If I’m not interested enough to read it from cover to cover, I’ll export the “knowledge nuggets” that I did find useful, throw the note card into the book, and put it on the shelf until interest or necessity brings me back. Having a system like this helps me know which books to bring back, and having this notecard map as a bookmark helps me find my way through the book again.
The basic process is read, review, read, review. I do this to prime my memory with what I’ve learned in the past (maybe even just the day before) and I’ve found that it really helps me “knit” the book together in my mind.
I typically fall into reading one or two of the books from front to back, while surgically removing knowledge nuggets from the other books, in order to build out a broader picture of the topic.

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How to read nonfiction books with maximum efficiency? In today's share, the author gives the advice to read books on the same topic at the same time, although such reading needs to follow the following steps.

  1. Approach a book
  2. Judge a book by its cover
  3. The index is everything
  4. Use the TOC as the skeleton
  5. Preview with the preface

The most interesting part of this is the third step, where the index often has the keyword listed by the author and the corresponding page number. We can usually determine the importance of this keyword (which can be interpreted as a weight) by the number of corresponding page numbers. If the high weight keywords given by the author also interest us, then the book will be more interesting to us (information entropy of the book is relatively high).

It’s a process I’ve developed called surgical reading and it means that when I’m reading a non-fiction book, I focus on locating and removing the most valuable pieces of information from it quickly as possible.
Reading shouldn’t be about checking titles off of a todo list, it should be an exploration of what fascinates you.
I love startups. From a learning perspective, they allow you to fully immerse into new fields and, by their nature, force you to solve real problems. This has informed my own personal approach to learning and therefore to reading. I don’t build a knowledge base just to have knowledge. I build it to use it. Typically as soon as I can.
Before I start reading a non-fiction book, I’ll take between 5-10 minutes and try to get a sense of what value it has to me and how it is structured.
You can take any path you want, but for me, the index is my first stop after the title. Armed with a guess of the book's point of view from the title, I use the index to understand what topics we’re going to cover and hopefully how we’re going to approach them.
Any time something in the index interests me, I’ll write it down. I do this on a physical notecard or in a document. So, by the end of reading the index I’ll have all of the most interesting and relevant pieces of information in one place.
The TOC shows the way the author wants you to understand the progression of the book. (Like the title, authors also think about what the TOC looks like.) It gives you the big picture of the approach. Then the index helps you fill in the types and level of details.
You could start your process at the TOC if you want to, but I have found that starting with the index and overlaying that research on top of TOC is most helpful.
After I’ve contemplated the title, mapped out the book with the index and the table of contents, I typically skim the preface to see how the map that I created in my mind matches what the author is telling me as they introduce the book. It’s a feedback loop on my own deductive ability.
In the preface, good authors will tell you right away what the book is about and where it is going. In that way, the preface is like the trailer to a movie. Maybe you see Ben Affleck and Pee Wee Herman are co-starring and lose interest. Maybe the author makes a point you never thought of, and you become more interested. Follow that instinct.
So how do I get those useful knowledge nuggets? I use the index map (page numbers) and again, I follow my interests or problem-solving needs. I start by reading the pages corresponding to the seemingly useful parts from the index. Yeah, right in the middle of the book. Feel free to just start reading on page 212. Seriously.
One thing I appreciate about notations in a book is that it allows you to track your thinking about the book over time. If you do end up coming back later, these little notes can serve the same purpose that commenting your code does.
If I’m not interested enough to read it from cover to cover, I’ll export the “knowledge nuggets” that I did find useful, throw the note card into the book, and put it on the shelf until interest or necessity brings me back. Having a system like this helps me know which books to bring back, and having this notecard map as a bookmark helps me find my way through the book again.
The basic process is read, review, read, review. I do this to prime my memory with what I’ve learned in the past (maybe even just the day before) and I’ve found that it really helps me “knit” the book together in my mind.
I typically fall into reading one or two of the books from front to back, while surgically removing knowledge nuggets from the other books, in order to build out a broader picture of the topic.

Get 30% off for 1 year

Surgical Reading: How to Read 12 Books at Once

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Jamie Larson
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