How to read a book

Source: Conceive it! Believe it! Achieve it! – NAPOLEON HILL

There is an art to reading a self-help book. When you read, concentrate. Read as if the author were a close personal friend, and were writing to you – and you alone.

Now you recall that Abraham Lincoln, when he read, took time for reflection in order that he might relate and assimilate the principles into his experience. It would be wise to follow his good example.

Also it is wise to know what you are looking for when you read a self-help book. If you know what you are looking for – you are more apt to find it. For if you really want to relate and assimilate into your own life the ideas that are contained between the covers of an inspirational book, work at it. A self-help book is not to be skimmed through the same way that you might read a detective novel. Mortimer J. Adler in ‘How to read a book’ urges the reader to follow a definite pattern. Here’s an ideal one:

Step 1: Read for general content.

This is the first reading. It should be a fast reading, to grasp the sweeping flow of thought that the book contains. But take the time to underline the important words and phrases. Write notes in the margins and write down briefly the ideas that flash into your mind as you read. Now this obviously may only be done with a book that you own. But the notations and markings make your book more valuable to you.

Step 2: Read for particular emphasis.

A second reading is for the purpose of assimilating specific details. You should pay particular attention to see that you understand and really grasp, and new ideas the book presents.

Step 3: Read for the future.

This third reading is more of a memory feat than it is a reading task. Literally memorize passages that have particular meaning to you. Find ways they can relate to problems you are currently facing. Test new ideas; try them; discard the useless and imprint the useful indelibly on your habit patterns.

Step 4: Read – later – to refresh your memory, and to rekindle your inspiration.

There is a famous story about the salesman who is standing up in front of a sales manager saying, “Gimme that old sales talk again, I’m getting kinda discouraged.” All of us may become discouraged. We should re-read the best of our books at such times to rekindle the fires that got us going in the first place.

Conceive it! Believe it! Achieve it!


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