How To Read A Book

Based on the title you may be thinking, “is this blog supposed to be for my 3-year-old son?”  In actuality this post is for anybody that plans to read at least one more book in their lifetime.

While most educated people can read at a high level, it’s surprising how few people read the right way.  I’m talking about the type of reading that allows for full retention and internalization.  What’s the point of reading a book if a month, year, or decade from now you don’t retain the lessons or values acquired through a particular book.

There are 3 types of readers: Casual Readers, Academic Readers, and Introspective Readers.  I’ll briefly touch on all three types.  After that you decide the type of reader you want to be.

1. Casual Reader

This is the type of reader that enjoys reading by the pool while getting a sexy tan on.  It’s done very casually and for pleasure.  What’s missing in this type of reading is active engagement.  A casual reader never has a pen or pencil to mark up the text.  Typically after completing a book, the casual reader in most cases will think about the book for a short period of time, but eventually the moral/message drops by the wayside.

2. Academic Reader

This type of reader is a bit more serious than a casual leader.  An academic reader developed good habits while in school.  When this type of reader reads a book, he or she is armed with a writing utensil.  With this tool a reader has the ability to commit to something my freshmen history teacher would call CUSS.  This stands for Circle, Underline, Star, Summarize.  CUSSing involves marking up the text while reading, also known as annotating (why my teacher couldn’t just call it that is beyond me).   There’s no further action once the book is completed, unless you’re the final type of reader!

3. Introspective Reader

The introspective reader is one that doesn’t just simply read a book, but instead devours it.  This reader is looking to maximize the teachings from the book and more importantly retain the information for a lifetime.  

This is done through the same process as an Academic Reader, but with one additional step.  After completing the book and annotating it throughout, the reader then returns to the beginning of the book.  The final step involves going through each page and extracting the main points onto a separate piece of paper.  This forces you to reread and write down the most important points.  Consolidating the main points leads to greater internalization.


To recap, see below the breakdown of each reader type:

Casual Readers: Read

Academic Readers: Read and Annotate

Introspective Readers: Read, Annotate, and Consolidate

If you want to retain information, you must do more than just simply read.  You must also internalize the lessons through annotating and consolidating.  Not retaining what you read five years from now is the same as having not read at all.  That’s why people reread books.  You should never reread books!  So be an Introspective Reader, not one that continuously reads and forgets.

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