Many people want to read more but don't manage it, or feel they retain little of the books they've read.
These five tips have helped me read more and remember the content of books better. By the way, books are not replaced by self-help seminars.
The Different Types of Books
Of course, there are non-fiction books and novels. Novels break down into different genres, but nonfiction can also be subdivided further.
There are the narrative nonfiction books: they tell a story, for example the biography of a person. You should read these books chronologically to understand the whole story.
There are also the trunk nonfiction books, which deal with wide-ranging topics and lay the foundation of a field of knowledge. You should read these books in their entirety, if possible, in order to understand the concepts well.
The third type of nonfiction books are the branch nonfiction books that deal with a single concept. These books can be skimmed well because the chapters only elaborate on the various aspects of the topic. It is also possible to read summaries of these books without neglecting the content.
If you want to know more about the different types of books, you can read my article “Book Summaries Are Not Always Useful.”
Read the Classics
The nonfiction section is teeming with new releases, pop science literature, and papers on ideas that have actually been known for a long time. Many of these books, while entertainingly written, contain little worth knowing.
So instead of spending time on such books, it's better to read the classics. Depending on the subject, such books were first published ten or more years ago.
Classics usually contain basic ideas and are often quoted. Be careful, especially in technical or rapidly changing fields, because the content of books can quickly become outdated.
You Don't Have to Finish Every Book
Many people feel pressure to finish a book they have started. The reasons range from perfectionism to the argument that you've already spent money on the book. But is the time you would have to spend reading the book really worth the money? Probably not, because you could read a different book.
To determine whether you should abandon a book, you can use Ryan Holiday's formula: You should read at least 100 pages of any book minus your age. The older you get, the faster you should put books aside.
Take Notes and Make Highlights
To retain as much of a book as possible and to keep a library of knowledge, you should take notes on what you read.
Depending on your preference, you can underline or highlight important passages in the book, write in the margins or in a notebook, or fold the pages.
These markings help you find quotes again, remember the contents of the book better, and refresh your knowledge quickly.
Read Several Books at the Same Time
You are not always in the mood to read a particular book, so you should have book alternatives ready. This will help you read more and with pleasure, as you will have more choices. You can also read books multiple times.
If you don't like reading multiple books at the same time, you can keep a book wish list. You write down all the books you want to read next, preferably sorted by priority.
If you are no longer interested in your current book or if you need a break from longer pieces, you can simply read the next book on the wish list and then return to the previous book.