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How I consume one book each week

Here is the story for those of you wondering how and why I adopted this habit>>>

Surrounded by classmates, we were waiting in the courtyard for our next class to begin when my best friend decided to make an unnecessary announcement, “You’ve only finished one book in your entire life?!?” Matt shot out mocking me.

My eyes dropped to the ground, I hated this game.  “We” played it all the time in the US, why couldn’t it just stay an American game and NOT now become an Australian school yard game? “Three.” I mumbled.

Conveniently, our professor opened the door just in time to see all of the classmates gawking / laughing at me.

He fixed his gaze on me, “Is this true?” he asked.

My cheeks flushed as I shifted my gaze to a different portion of grey pavement and I nodded.

“Why?” he asked.

My head whipped up to analyze his face, was he about to join the masses in making fun of me for having ADHD? I was sick of the memes and the jokes.

“Is it because you get bored?” he asked eagerly.

I looked up at him and prepared to receive another lecture on the importance of reading every word printed in each book we were assigned to read.

He furrowed his brow and looked at my face, “Do you stop reading once you know where the author is going and you understand his or her point?”

“Yeah!” I was amazed.  No one had ever worded it like this before, “How did you know?” I asked, shocked.

Grenville immediately looked at Matt and my other classmates, “You know, your friend choosing not to finish a book is a sign of intelligence, not stupidity.  It takes her less time to understand the author’s point…” The crowd fell silent and all eyes were back on me, with an entirely different sentiment.

My new favorite professor shifted out of the door frame, “Come on in. It’s time for class.” #myHero.

 

To this day, I rarely read every word in a book cover to cover. But I do consume one book each week.

Here is how: 

  1. I look up the book via my local library’s free audiobook app. If the book is shorter than 4 hours, I download the audio version. Why?Because I know that I will drive / workout for at least 4 hours and now have two tasks completed with that time. 
  2. I will download the audio for a 6 hour book only if I have a minimum of 2 meetings scheduled 30 minutes away. This is incredibly rare. Even when visiting clients, I try to stay within walking distance of their offices (they’re paying me to work, not commute). 
  3. If the book is longer than 4-6 hours, then I follow a different process which is outlined below: 

I open the first chapter and read the first paragraph. If I agree with everything the author states, I flip to read the last paragraph of that chapter. If I agree with the author’s stated conclusion for that chapter, I move on to the next chapter. If I don’t, I read the chapter so I can understand why the author believes something to be true. 

Example: Let’s say you’re reading a book on the psychology of colors. Chapter 1 is about the color blue. You read the first paragraph of chapter 1 and find that the author is sharing information you already know. So you flip to the last page of the chapter and read the last paragraph. The author states a conclusion that you already know to be true. If you had read that chapter you would’ve wasted time learning nothing new. 

Now, you flip to chapter 2 which discusses the color orange. The author’s first paragraph repeats something you learned in the last book you read, but his conclusion of the chapter is COMPLETELY different. You now know that if you read chapter 2 there’s a higher chance that you will learn something new. So you invest the 10-40 minutes in reading the chapter. 

Why does this work? 

If a book is properly written, each chapter will be filled with all of the research, evidence and logical arguments that they believe are relevant to supporting that chapter’s featured conclusion.  A summary of the conclusion is typically stated in either the first or last paragraph of that chapter.

If I don’t understand the logic behind a conclusion or disagree with the conclusion, then I’ll read the chapter to see if the author’s cited evidence is new information that I have not previously encountered or considered.

On occasion, I’ll read the contents of a chapter if I enjoy the author’s style of writing.  But that’s rare.

If a book isn’t written in this format, I’ll skim it and have it back at the library within a few days.

What if it is a HUGE book on an entirely new topic?

On rare occasion, I put it on my nightstand and read a few pages each night before bed. This gives my brain something to chew on while I sleep. In these instances I’m reading two books at once. One for my weekly quota and the “nightstand book”, which could take me a few months to finish.

But usually, to learn a new subject, I follow this process.

  1. Look up the top 5-20 books on the subject, read one per week until I have a solid base composed of various views on the subject.
  2. Play YouTube videos on the subject, in the background for a few weeks.
  3. Then I take one or two of the top rated courses on Udemy and ask questions on Quora until I have a solid understanding of the subject.

Some people were asking if I’d post the books I’ve read recently so here’s the running list (links where the books are free online): 

** = highly recommend skimming

* = highly recommend to growth hackers / startups

2018

Week 15: The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris** (One sentence summary: Mantras don’t work as well as a reminder of why you were the one chosen to fill a certain role or position. How to put it into action: if you feel self conscience or nervous and are about to go on stage or walk into an important meeting, stop.  Take a deep breath and silently list off, to yourself, all of the experiences and accomplishments you had to achieve to qualify you for the position you’re being interviewed for). 

Week 16: The Art of War *

Week 17: Smarter: The New Science of Building Brain Power by Dan Hurley**

Week 18: The Sibling Effect by Jeffrey Kluger

Week 19: Started with Tony Robbins’ new book on Finance, it was literally a regurgitation of what you’d find on google if you typed in “top 10 personal finance tactics”, but for $27! I was OBSCENELY disappointed, this was one of the few books I made the decision to actually purchase. I picked up Life & Work Principles by Ray Dalio and found it to be pure gold **

Week 20: Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis *

Week 21: Don’t Make Me Think (re-read) *

Week 22 – Week 27: spent all of my reading time on white papers & articles

Week 28: Tools of Titans (re-read) *

Week 29: Influence (re-read)

Week 30: The 4 hour work week (re-read) **

Week 31-38: Get Programming with JavaScript by Larsen & JavaScript & JQuery by Jon Duckett

Week 39: The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau*

(I picked this book up because I found it strange that one of my friends would always say her goal was “to be happy”. As if an emotion could be an end goal and not something that is experienced on a daily basis. The book basically says, in way too many words, that we are happiest when we are pursuing a goal…any goal.)

Week 40: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely*

Week 41: You are a badass by Jen Sincero*

Week 42: The Game of Life and How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn (free for download here)**

Week 43: You are a badass at making money by Jen Sincero*

Week 44: The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles (free for download here)*

Week 45: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill**

Week 46: As a Man Thinketh by James Allen**

Week 47: 50 Prosperity Classics by Tom Butler-Bowdon.**

This book was the equivalent of using a catalog to shop. You could taste test 50 books before deciding which ones to add to your personal reading list. I loved it. 

Week 48: The Secret by Rhonda Byrne*

Week 49: Trust Me I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday*

Week 50: Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday*

Week 51: Purple Cow by Seth Godin*

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