Reading 3 or more books about related subjects is a quick way to gain expertise (above)
If used correctly, books are something we can use alongside real life experience to become an expert in any subject. Here we take you through the different levels of reading from the most basic form to reading to become an expert.
1. Mechanical reading
This is the most basic form of reading – deciphering combinations of letters to make words – the kind of reading most of us learn in our early school days. By reading this you have a good level of mechanical reading already. Many of us take it for granted that we can read like this, because it is second nature. Similarly to mechanical reading, we re-learn how to read when learning a foreign language.
2. Selective reading
Selective reading is trying to get the most that we can out of a book in a set period of time, like we do during comprehension exercises at school. When reading an informational book, the best way to read selectively is:
- First read the cover and the contents pages of the book to get a good idea of the information contained in the book
- If you need to know more specifically what chapters are about, read the first paragraph or two of the chapter, it normally tells you
- Read the last few pages of each chapter, or chapter summaries, as they often tell you all you need to know
- Once you have identified a chapter or section of the book that contains specific knowledge you need, go ahead and read or scan through the whole chapter
3. Interrogative Reading
Interrogative reading is critically questioning and analysing a text whilst reading it. When reading interrogatively you may get more understanding from the text by asking the following questions:
- What is the book about overall – and in detail? (Consolidate your learning by relaying the knowledge in your head)
- Is it true? Does it display any hidden biases, or misrepresent any facts?
- What is it’s significance? How can the lessons and knowledge be applied to real life examples?
4. Actionable Reading
It’s important that after investing some time doing some reading on a subject, you try applying it in real life, and see if it works for you. After reading about an effective method to achieve something you must turn thought into action and get some real life feedback on it. For example, after reading a book about how cutting out wheat will make you feel less bloated and more energetic, it makes sense to dedicate a significant chunk of time, maybe two or more weeks, to sticking with a wheat free diet and seeing if it provides any results. This is similar with any instructional book, otherwise the time you have spent learning is useless.
5. Group Reading and Debating
Group reading involves being a part of a group where you all read the same book, then meet together to discuss what you have learnt. It is a very effective way to learn from reading, as you relay and recap what you have learnt together, question and expose each other biases, share a variety of knowledge and viewpoints, and you are motivated to read because you have some social interaction around it. Group reading will fast track your learning as you gain additional insights and learn extra information from peers about what you are reading about.
6. Syntopical reading
Syntopical reading is reading 3 or more books around a subject and forming links between the views and knowledge in each of the books. Surprisingly, reading 3 books on a subject will not make you 2 or even 3 times more knowledgeable on the subject than just reading 1. It will make you up to 6 times smarter. The intersection of the books will lead to them challenging or reinforcing the information in each other. Book 1 and book 2 will have an intersection of knowledge between them, as will book 2 and 3, and book 1 and 3. The cross over and contrast of the separate pieces of knowledge will challenge biases, give counter arguments for things that aren’t true, and reinforce the things that are true. For example, if you read two books about a subject with opposite view points, and you find the first to put forward an argument with little reasoning and evidence behind it, then the second to provide the opposite argument, with stronger reasoning, examples, scientific evidence and real world studies behind it, then you not only know the two pieces of knowledge, but also which of them has stronger reasoning and thus is more true, and reasoning as to why the other isn’t.
By this same reasoning, reading 3 books on a subject will make you up to 6 times smarter on it (3 main pieces of knowledge and 3 intersections), 4 books up to 10 times smarter (4 pieces of knowledge and 6 intersections) and 5 books up to 15 times smarter (5 pieces of knowledge and 10 intersections between them). Thus the more reading you do on a subject, exponentially the smarter you become!
7. Masterful reading
Masterful reading involves combining points 4, 5, and 6 to become an expert in a subject, however it must be continually done over a number of years to make somebody an expert. To keep learning by widely reading around a subject, practicing the application of it in real life, and discussing the subject matter as part of a group is the best and quickest way to pick up professional expertise.
What are the main types of reading you like to do?
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