Monday, February 14, 2005

How to Read a Business Book?

Rajesh Jain points me to this post by the Slacker Manager on how to read a business book?

So what kind of idea does he wants to present here?

I'll be focusing strictly on that space that falls between studying for tests and reading for pleasure.

This is one of the most important kind of reading. You are not pressed for results and at the same time you are reading because you like to read and understand the ideas and concepts.

The first question is What Should you read?

The Slacker manager points us to the where you can check out the purchasing circles where you can browse by companies or wishlists. You need to find your way through and also train Amazons' algorithm to understand your preferences.

He then suggests checking out the FC Book club, the technorati book page, and OnFocus. He also suggests 800 CEO read which I like too. You should check out their reader page, blog, excerpts blog and recommendations. All of these are great places to start focusing on finding the book to read.

Now that you have selected the book to read, the next step is to Make a place in your space

This is simple, but important. Establish places to read that are comfortable and have the appropriate accoutrements. You'll need your book, of course, but you'll also want ample lighting and a stable writing surface. You'll want your writing tools close at hand. It doesn't really matter where your space is, or how many spaces you have. You just need to identify them, or at least identify what they are. Maybe you've got a long train commute--perfect found time for reading! Maybe you have a nice chair in the living room--just the place to sneak away for a quick reading session. Speaking of sessions, Sanders advises keeping reading sessions to about 30 minutes. I don't really hit the wall after 30 minutes and you might not either. Regardless, pay attention to when you start losing attention. At that point, put the book away and do something else for a change.

Then we need to work the book rather than read the book. He suggests tagging and clipping for that.

Active readers read, but they also engage the book by marking it up, annotating and summarizing. In order to become an active reader, you'll need to get over any reservations you have about writing in your books. Regardless of whether you get hardbacks or paperbacks, mark 'em up.

Let's take a look at what the end result is, so you have an idea where you're going here. When you're finished reading your book, you'll have various passages underlined (tagged) throughout the book. Each tag may or may not have notes in the margin next to it, but each tag will definitely have an entry in your "index" at the back of the book. These entries are the "clippings" for each of the tags. You'll have used the blank pages at the back of the book to make a note of the page number and the main idea behind each bit you tagged. At the front of the book, on the blank pages, you will have a brief outline of the whole book. When all is said and done, you'll have a document that you can refer to time and time again, and quickly find relevant passages when needed by using the outline and the index.

That's the big idea. Now you'll need to come up with your own system of annotations, symbols and markup. I learned briefhand in high school, and still use it sporadically. There are plenty of shorthand-like systems out there if you're interested.


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