Some Thoughts on Reading

by Krishna on May 29, 2007

Having spent much of the long weekend sick at home reading, here are some of my random thoughts about reading in general and books in particular:

  1. It is impossible to read all books. This is so plainly obvious, but difficult to follow especially when you see a new book with a great design on a glossy cover. To avoid wasting time on rubbish books, use lists of great or bestselling books compiled by good sources. Some examples: Recommended Reading by Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror, Book Reviews by Joel Spolsky of Joel on Software, Personal MBA books by Josh Kaufman, etc. Use Amazon reviews to see if a book is worth reading. I have also created quick 1-minute reviews of books I read on business management and technology.
  2. Reading a book at one stretch is a joy to treasure, but such opportunities come rarely. Learn to read books like articles, i.e., chapter by chapter. This way, you can break off, do something else, come back and continue with the book. If chapters in the book are too large, read section by section.
  3. The greatest respect you can give to a book is to ruin it by constant use. A book that is clean with straight pages is useless because its knowledge is locked inside. If you own the book, dog-ear important pages. Use a marker or tape to highlight good sections. Let it get crumpled or rain-drenched because you keep carrying it around. If you are done with the book, give it away to your local library or to a friend who will value the knowledge.
  4. Talking of dog ears, I dog-ear the bottom corner of a page to note important sections while the top corner only has one dog-ear to keep track of the last page I read. Bookmarks would have been better, but they keep falling out and I keep losing them. But I digress.
  5. Don’t make notes from the book unless you plan to use them very soon, send them to someone or use them as a reference for another book. If that is not the case, those notes will become shelf-ware, never to be seen again. Why waste the time? Read the book, enjoy and remember what you can. Besides, if the book is really good, you can always find another copy in the local bookstore or the library.
  6. Read multiple books at the same time. Huh? Well, not exactly simultaneously. But keep different books at different spots in your home. When you are in that spot, read a few pages. It is amazing how many books you can get through by this technique.
  7. Books can be fun. Books can be informative. Great books are both – they provide knowledge and you really enjoying reading them. However, if you are reading to gain knowledge, don’t assume all reading is fun. Sometimes, there are a few boring tomes on a subject, including the authoritative ones, and you have to be ready to wade through them to understand the information.
  8. Many great books are freely available on the Internet. No, not pirate downloading sites, but sites like Gutenberg and Librivox. And of course, some of the most superb writing in recent years is not available in a book, only on websites and blogs. Examples: Steve Yegge and Paul Graham.
  9. The more I read, the more I realize how little I know. Reading great writers is a humbling experience. It also makes you thirsty for more great writing. Unfortunately, there is only so much time. If you have children, the greatest gift you can give them is to make them interested in reading at an early age. That way, they have a lifetime of book reading to savor.

{ 4 comments }

deepdowne May 30, 2007 at 8:14 am

interesting observations! agree with most of what you said.

Krishna May 30, 2007 at 8:52 am

Thanks for the comments, deepdowne

Vipins May 31, 2007 at 12:26 pm

Dear Krish

Nice one Krish. Now a days I’m not reading much. I need to start again. So you spent the long week end reading books. I heard recently in CNBC that “The Secret” is a nice book. Did you read that book?

Regards
Vipins

Krish May 31, 2007 at 1:18 pm

Thanks, Vipins. I haven’t yet read “The Secret”. Will try to get a copy sometime.

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