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Welcome to my blog. I write about anything that interests me.

Reading Techniques

Reading Techniques

(This is a collection of framework/tips/techniques to improve the reading skill.)

Robin Hanson's - Chase your Reading

This short blog is a gem in rethinking my approach to reading. Here are some highlights:

Hunting has two main modes: searching and chasing. With searching, you look for something to chase. With chasing, in contrast, you have a focus of attention that drives your actions. You may find something else worth chasing along the way, and then switch your focus to a new chase, but you’ll still maintain a focus.

In the searching mode, readers tend to be less critical. If a source came recommended, they tend to keep reading along even if they aren’t quite sure what the point is. Since authors tend to be more prestigious than readers, readers tend to feel reluctant to question or judge what they’ve read. They are more likely to talk about whether they enjoyed the read than whether the author’s argument works.

In chasing mode, you continually ask yourself whether what you are reading is relevant for your quest, or whether the author actually has anything new or interesting to say. You flip around seeking sections that might be more relevant, and you might even look up the references for an especially relevant section.

Searching mode is passive reading where we are exploring the territory, getting to know and immersing ourselves into the environs. Chasing mode is active reading where we poke holes in the author's logic and arguments and see how it can be broken.

I think there are no judgements on which one is better or worse. The mode is completely depended on the context, what we are learning or what mood we are actually in.

There is a nice quote in the blog from Samuel Johnson, which nails this:

What we read with inclination makes a much stronger impression. If we read without inclination, half the mind is employed in fixing the attention; so there is but one half to be employed on what we read.

Tiago Forte's - Progressive Summarization:

Tiago is a productivity expert, obsessed with improving learning and retention of knowledge. His technique is quite unique. It is a highlight-heavy approach to reading. When you read an essay and if you come across an interesting line, you just highlight it. If you are reading online, use tools like Highly or Kindle Notes in the Kindle device. If you are reading offline, use a highlighter.

The challenge of knowledge is not acquiring it. In our digital world, you can acquire almost any knowledge at almost any time. The challenge is knowing which knowledge is worth acquiring. And then building a system to forward bits of it through time, to the future situation or problem or challenge where it is most applicable, and most needed.

We all read books. We may not be able to use the techniques learnt immediately. But now we have the technology to capture our learning. We now can take snapshots of our learning in the form of highlights and notes. It is completely foolish to rely only on our memories. We should augment our memory with these technologies to learn and unlearn things faster. 

Human beings have the superpower of associating things from various fields and various time to come up with unique insights. May be the technology will also catch up on that front. But that is far too long. Even if it happens, we should be smart enough to tame it and complement our insights and intuition.

Kevin Simler - Life Hacks on Reading

  • Have a Kindle, it reduces the friction in trying out samples of the books.

  • Have an Audible subscription and listen to books during the commute, laundry or other mundane tasks.

  • If time, (not money), is a constraint, buy the Audio+Kindle of the same book. Listening+reading isn't faster than reading by itself, but it's more immersive and makes it easier to read.

  • Set your current book as your phone's lock screen, as a reminder of how you'd rather spend your time. (Personally, this has been a superb quick win for me. I unlock/lock the phone at least 35 times a day. The photo of the book on the lock screen is a very subtle reminder to read that book. Highly recommended life hack.)

Tyler Cowen - How to read fast

Tyler Cowen is a polymath and his vast interests and high production function is a thing of inspiration and amazement. His tip of reading fast doesn't include things like speed-reading, instead:

"The best way to read quickly is to read lots. And lots. And to have started a long time ago. Then maybe you know what is coming in the current book. Reading quickly is often, in a margin-relevant way, close to not reading much at all." .... 

"I start ten or so books for every one I finish. I don’t mind disliking a book, and I never regret having picked it up and started it. I am ruthless in my discards."

This is an extremely important tip I have picked up from very good readers. They are not intimidated by the sunk-cost fallacy with books. They discard the books that are not interesting at that point in time. 

Woody Allen, Abstract and Atomic Habits

Woody Allen, Abstract and Atomic Habits

iPad Parenting

iPad Parenting