Thursday, September 30, 2010


I have spotted the following interesting review of the book, 'HOW WE READ: Passion for Knowledge Disciplined by Subtle Turns of Strategies & Tactics', by Rong Fan.

Here's a quick summary of the key points from the perspective of the Top 500 Amazon book reviewer, Irfan A Alvi:

1. Effective reading requires technique and skill, not just passion.

2. Let your goals and interests guide your reading, and so don't feel obligated to read non-fiction books cover to cover. Learn to map the overall structure of a book and then skim or read in depth as appropriate (including reading chapters in sequence when necessary).

3. Since time is limited, choose books very carefully. Books of intermediate size, written by a single expert author, are often best. Use resources like Amazon to help find suitable books (since you're reading this review, you already know that).

4. Be flexible and customize your reading approach for each subject and each book, factoring in the prior knowledge you're starting with.

5. Read multiple books on each subject, to get the benefit of different perspectives, explanations, and emphases.

6. Mastering the general principles of a subject is more important than remembering details, so read accordingly. For this purpose, read introductory chapters and paragraphs very carefully.

7. Organize your reading according to a plan and a daily schedule, with the quiet early morning hours often being the best time to read. Be consistent and patient with your reading, and you may be surprised by how much you learn over the course of months and years.

8. When learning a new subject, consider starting with intense reading for several weeks in order to get your bearings.

9. Take regular breaks during your reading sessions, even if you'd rather push on. Allow longer reading sessions for more complex topics.

10. Arrange your reading environment (seating, lighting, quiet, etc.) to make it comfortable and effective.

11. Don't read so much that you don't allow time to think and wind up stifling your creativity.

12. Don't bother with speed-reading. Read at the proper pace to learn well, with slower usually being better.

13. Be diligent about learning the core specialized vocabulary of a subject, keeping a dictionary close at hand for that purpose.

14. Highlight books, but do it selectively, taking care not to overdo or underdo it, and keeping in mind that the purpose is to aid both learning and review.

15. Take notes, especially for difficult subjects, but aim to capture only the essential ideas, not all the details. Preferably take notes in the book itself, so that the notes stay with the book.

16. Don't be afraid of numbers. Use "tricks" to help remember them.

17. Do practice questions to test your knowledge and gain experience in applying it.

18. Undertake projects in order to integrate and apply your knowledge.

19. Do regular reviews in order to renew your memory and deepen your understanding. To keep things fresh, consider reviewing using different resources than the ones you initially learned from.

20. To enhance your learning, write book summaries and critiques (which is basically what I'm doing now for this book, and for just that purpose).

21. Recognize that reading must be balanced with hands-on experience. Reading informs experience so that more is gained from experience, but reading is never a substitute for experience. For that matter, balance reading and experience with other aspects of your life, including rest and recreation. In other words, don't become a bookworm.

[To read the original review in its entirety, please go to this link.]

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