The thought of finishing a book a week seems like an improbable feat—reading is time-consuming, and aside from a remote getaway, when was the last time you were able to get lost in a book for hours on end?
Chances are we’d all like to be able to read more in less time, which is why a recent article in Harvard Business Review could change everything about how you approach reading. When it comes to nonfiction, the article’s author, Peter Bregman, shares a technique (from his former professor) for how to read quickly and efficiently—and (magically) be able to retain all the information you need. Find his tips for reading a book a week below.
- Get to know the authors. Read their bio to learn more about them and their background. This will give you a better sense of their biases and perspectives from the get-go.
- Acquaint yourself with the book. You’ll get a good sense of the main idea or argument by reading through the title, subtitle, front flap, and table of contents.
- Go straight from start to finish. Authors make their case in the introduction and the conclusion, so quickly read both word for word. You’ll pick up on the big picture and also be able to identify where the author is headed with the storyline or argument. These two sections outline how the authors plan to get to the point and what they hope you get out of it.
- Do a skillful skim. Go over each chapter and read important text, like titles and subtitles, as well as the first few paragraphs to decipher how the author is using each chapter and where it fits into the overall argument or story. Also, read the first and last sentences of each paragraph within the chapter, and if you understand the meaning of the chapter from this, move on. If not, you may want to read full paragraphs. After you’ve identified the main idea, you’ll be able to skim or skip full pages of each chapter, as the argument is clear to you and will most likely be repeated.
- Top it off with the table of contents. This outlines the entire book and will help you summarize everything in your head.
If you’re reading a book a week, you’ll need this space-saving bookcase from Design Within Reach as a cool way to display your collection.
Do you think this technique will help you? Tell us in the comments below.