Recently, I came across a book titled 10 Days to Faster Reading by Abby Marks-Beale that has changed the way I look at reading non-fiction.
I was relieved to find out that I was already using some of her strategies, such as taking notes and eliminating environmental distractions, but mostly, 10 Days to Faster Reading made me acutely aware of the various mistakes I was making – and how to correct them so I could increase my reading retention.
For example, we humans have a tendency to subvocalize – sounding out each word in our heads. It turns out that this is much slower than when our minds just take in words as thoughts (without subvocalizing). The latter process is what we do when we’re truly “in the zone” – subvocalizing only serves takes us out of the zone.
The book also emphasizes the importance of context when reading non-fiction; having a specific idea about what you’re looking to learn in a particular book will make relevant content stand out much more. Using the book’s index (if it has one) is another way to find relevant content more quickly as well.
Ultimately, the point of reading non-fiction is not to finish the book cover-to-cover, it’s to learn specific concepts that you can apply to your daily life, so make sure that you’re doing that as efficiently as possible.
Josh Kaufman does an excellent job summarizing the 10 key ideas in 10 Days to Faster Reading, you can skim it in about 10 minutes and get all of the important concepts.
10 Days to Faster Reading – Personal MBA summary