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Different ways to read a book

Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”― Lemony Snicket.

You can only read a book front to back, right? Wrong. Front-to-back reading is called sequential reading and is only one of the many ways you can approach a book.

Common book myths

  • You need to read every word in a book

  • You need to read chapters in order

  • Reading a physical book is the one 'true' way to read a book

  • If you skim read you don't get much from it


These myths limit people to approach books in the every word, front to back category.

The 5 types of reading.

You should read a book the way that helps get you what you need. That will rarely be sequential for non-fiction and will very likely be sequential for fiction. I mostly use the "gist approach", to news, to research and to newer single subject books. I use the selective approach a lot too when trying to get up to speed quickly on something.

Different modes of reading

When we talk about "books" these days that means a wide variety of media.

  1. The physical book: This is still the one I use most. It's device-free, easy to carry, requires no battery or headphones and can be scribbled on with freedom.

  2. The audiobook: A great way to listen to something whilst commuting and travelling that can be done on the move. I enjoy autobiographies this way, or single subject books. The drawback for me of audiobooks is retention. I find I can recall very little of the content and it's best for books that I am listening to for entertainment. I find the same with podcasts.

  3. The eBook/Kindle: I personally have used this very little, but many people find it takes away the problem of accessibility.

Mixing it up

Some people I know use both an audiobook and ebook at different times for the same book so they can read and listen and get through the book in one focused go. Others I know join book clubs to get accountability and make sure the social element sparks discussion and share in other people's insights. There is absolutely no 'right' way to read a book.

I will mostly have one book I am listening to on audiobook for commutes, one book I am trying to engage deeply with that I read at night, and one more "Zen" type book that I pick up when I want to read something short and grounding. How do you do it?

So what?

  1. Approaching a book is not a huge investment. Pick a short book (some recommendations coming next week) and skim it. You can commit to it later.

  2. Make sure you find the best way to read the book to suit your objectives. Fiction might be best enjoyed sequentially but non-fiction can be enjoyed in many ways.

  3. Mix up the way you get your books, whether physical, eBook or audiobook and experiment or if you want

Thank you for joining. "Short classic books" next week. Sign up to the subscription list on Blog | Deciders ( Follow me on twitter: @Decidersblog


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