Book Tips

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. One of my goals earlier in the year was to double the amount of books I read per year. Which adds up to around 26(?). I’m hopelessly behind. Here are my current notes on my reading process.

  • Read multiple books at once. In general, we tend to get bored with studying one subject, so for me, it helps to read multiple books at once so I can hop on over to another book. Books also have difficulty levels. Some books, like an algorithms book or a signals and system book take a long time to grasp. You may go at 5 pages per hour if the material is super-abstract, or things just keep breaking your model of the world and you can’t stop thinking about it. Adjust accordingly depending on time of day, and freshness of your brain.
  • I tend to have the attitude of extracting key points and information from a given book that is most relevant to me. I tend to write notes, or highlight important bits(if it’s my book -.-). The objective is to make whatever you’re reading yours. Countless studies have shown that recalling helps you remember better. Rephrasing things in your own words and summarizing is one form of recall.
  • Everything is connected. If you’re reading a math book, you may find things that are relevant in an area that is completely irrelevant. It’s a ton of fun to try to connect it to other topics!
  • Don’t focus too much on the page count, or the speed(which may be contradictory to the earlier statement of book count).The mathematician Heisuke Hironaka says that a book is a triggering device to make you think. It may be good to focus on the process. When I was teenager, there was this huge bragging contest about how fast people can read books. It’s stupid. Sure, you can speed-read, but you sacrifice depth and time to ponder on ideas, contemplate their pros and cons, or even form your own counter-arguments.
  • Sign and date on the back of your book after you’re done. My dad does this, and it’s amazing. I try to take it one step further and put one sentence on how I felt about it. I wish we had a culture of doing this in our libraries! Wouldn’t it be awesome to find out who read the exact same book, and track em down, and talk to them via email? Hopefully they’re not dead though.