By John Sonmez March 10, 2016

What Is The Most Efficient Way To Read Books?

What Is The Most Efficient Way To Read Books? Most people think that only reading books will change their lives. However, most people don't even absorb any information of the books they read. Besides that, it is normal for people to simply discard the entire book once they're faced with some information they disagree.

So, what should you do in order to read books efficiently? Watch this video and find out!

Transcript From Video:

John: Hey, what's up, John Sonmez from simpleprogrammer.com. I was reading a book or listening to an audio version of a book, if you don't know, I listen to a lot of books. You can check out a blog post I did on all the books I read this year for 2015. It's like 50 something books, but I go through a lot of books. Maybe I'll start doing some reviews here. I've been thinking about doing reviews, but I wanted to give some advice, some tips for those of you that are voracious readers that do a lot of reading about reading and it's sort of a concept that I think you have to understand in order to get the most out of what you're reading both to protect you and to also—to get more information than you normally would.

Here's the thing. I was listening to this book, I'm not going to say which one it was. I don't want to talk about a specific book in this case, but it's because this happens a lot. I'm hearing some good stuff and I'm hearing some stuff that is just total bullshit. It's not—it is bad advice. It's not good.

The thing is a lot of people what they'll do is they will either wholly trust a source of information or they will wholly discredit it. I used to be very much like that. I would just be like, “It's black or white” but there's a big grey area. There's this thing called eating the meat and spitting out the bones. You've got to get good at this if you're going to read a lot of books, if you're going to really become educated because there's a lot of people that are going to have a lot of great advice but they're always going to have a lot of shitty advice as well, right? Probably myself included, right?

If you're watching my videos, not everything I say is 100% correct. This is what I think right now. One year from now I'm going to look at my own videos and say that I am a jackass. Some of it I'm going to say, “Man, you were brilliant way ahead of your time. Good job, John.” That's the thing is you've got to kind of use what you can.

Now, again, you have to have an open mind. It doesn’t mean that you just only read things and only accept things that confirm your own bias. We all have biases, you have to understand that to expand your mind some, but you also don't just open your mind and absorb everything and just say, “Well, it's in a book, it must be true” because that's not true as well. That's the thing, you've got to use your judgment.

When you read a book, when you listen to a book, when you get information you need to evaluate it. You want to look at it in context. You want to say, “Okay, does this make sense? Does this make sense for me? Does this make sense in life? Are there biases that I have? Do I need this information? Have other things that I've seen in my life confirm or deny this? Do I need to investigate further into this?” That's the way that you need to approach this. You need to realize that some of it is going to be good and some of it is going to be bad. Sometimes you're going to throw out the bad but you're going to keep the good. You're not just going to throw away a book.

Now there are going to be times and there are times when I'll read a book and it's just total crap, the whole thing is crap and I can tell from the beginning there's none—the person obviously is at a very low level of enlightenment and I'll just toss out the book and toss out everything. It doesn't make any sense. There's a few of those where I've just been like, “Ugh, wasted time, not even going to finish this book, just a waste of time.” There's also been really good books where there's been one chapter that's been off, right? Some of you that have read my book Soft Skills: A Software Developer's Life Manual have said, “Oh John has got it right on except for this one section, this one chapter.” That's fine. Still give me a 5-star review because the rest is good. Don't give it a 2 stars just because one chapter is bad or you don't like one chapter.

For example I think in Soft Skills I talk about fitness stuff. My views on fitness stuff has probably changed a lot. I did a very basic level. If you talk to me now about fitness I would probably talking a little bit differently than it was at the time that I wrote that. People grow. People change. Information changes. We get more enlightened. We progress at the level of consciousness. We have transformations where we become different and we see things differently.

In order for you to facilitate that, some of you have been asking, some of you have noticed, some of you have said, “Hey John, it looks like you've gone through some kind of transformation or multiple ones. What is going on?” Well, part of it is because I'm absorbing information and I'm letting that in and I'm keeping the good, getting rid of the bad and I'm growing from that process.

It takes some discernment. It's not an easy road. You don't just absorb information. You've got to use discernment and decide. Some of it, like I said, some of it is going to stretch you. You want to find the things that are at your boundary, right? You're at this edge. We all have this sort of boundary around us. The thing is we want to find the things that are outside that. I could probably draw on this board. Here we go, let's see how this works out.

Here is us, right, and we've got this boundary. This is where our comfort zone you could say. The best material that you find is stuff that's right here on the edge here which causes your bubble to expand out. If stuff is way out here it might even be true, but you're not ready for it so you think it's crap and you should throw that out anyway because you just can't go from here to here. There's some stuff that's all in here and it's obviously true, la, la, la or self-confirming but the best stuff is this stuff that's right here that causes this bubble to expand and to get a little bit bigger at a time, so you've got to stretch yourself.

Find that content and absorb that content. That's why a lot of times too people will review books and someone will be like, “Oh, this book is so awesome” and another person would be like, “Well, it had all kinds of obvious stuff that I already knew.” Be honest with yourself though. Sometimes you don't know that stuff.

Really a lot of times, again, if you're watching my channel a lot of times you'll say, “John, that's interesting. You're not telling me something I didn't know but you're reminding me of something or you're telling me some basic common sense.” Well that's good. That doesn't make something bad information. It's good to get things pounded in your head, stuff you already know but you weren't applying because a lot of times we have the information here but it hasn't traveled to here yet. Sometimes when someone tells us about it and when they put it in a different context, when they reinforce that it goes from here to here and then we apply it and then we grow.

Anyway, just want to give you that piece of advice if you're a reader. If you're not a reader you need to start reading because reading is going to change your life. It really will but read good books. I'll give you a list of books. I'll probably do a video. Let me know, a thumbs up, a comment if you want a list of my top books. I'll probably do a nice video, maybe the top 10 books for different categories, personal development, fitness, programming books and stuff. I have a list here of—ultimate list of developer books. It probably needs to be updated again here but that's for programmers but you could check that out. Anyway, hope you are enjoying these videos. If you like them, subscribe to the channel. All right, I'll talk to you next time. Take care.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."