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The first 10 minutes (with a book)

<Breaking Tsundoku - Part 2> 📚

Last week the focus was on:

  1. reflecting on your goal for reading before jumping into a new book;

  2. understanding that there are 4 levels of reading (and what they are)

This week lets start to look at inspectional reading (level 2) and offer some tips you can start to apply today!

What is it ❓

Inspectional reading (according to Adler & Van Doren 1972) is about:

  • figuring out if you want to actually read the book;

  • getting the most out of a book in a short a time as possible

You're basically trying to figure out if it's worth investing any more time beyond, say, an hour. In order to do this, you're going to first need to learn how to systematically skim the content and design.


Here's how to practice (A.K.A become a detective) 🕵🏻‍♀️

Start a 10 minute timer and begin to skim the content:

  • Read the front and back matter of the book. This will include the inside of a dust jacket for hard backs

  • If the book has a preface, quickly read it

a preface is meant to draw readers in by offering information about the author’s experience writing the book, the inspiration behind the subject matter, the writing process, the purpose of the story, and historical context for the material.
  • Next have a look through the contents page to what's included

  • If there's an index, have a glance over that too

Make a mental map of the content design

Now start to flick through the main body of the book (still not reading any content)

  • Do chapters have sections and sub-sections?

  • Is there a summary paragraph at the end of each chapter?

  • Does the book include visual examples? How often?

  • Is there a logical / linear model of content to follow, or is it more an abstract collection of ideas?

  • Is there an epilogue or concluding chapter?

Time's up! ⌛

If you were present during this process, you'll have picked up a decent amount of information about the book already. Certainly enough to answer the key questions:

"Does this have ideas / information I still want to explore?"

"Am I excited to spend more time with this author?"

If the answer is NO to either or both of those questions - great! You've saved yourself a bunch of time and can move on to the next book in your backlog.

Not every book is a winner. Some books are made up of 1 good idea that is dragged out over a couple of hundred pages. Other's are not actually connected in a meaningful way to the subject matter you were hoping for (or that the cover implied). The sooner you find out the better.

If the answer is YES to either or both of those questions - great! Next week we'll explore the best use of your next 10 minutes.


In conclusion

  • Don't start with reading

  • Start with understanding your intention

  • Then skim the content, before

  • Making a mental map of the content design

  • You can do all of this in the first 10 minutes.

And finally - did you notice how this article is broken down? Did you skim the headings and subheadings first? Did you jump down this section first? If so - you're already exhibiting some level 2 reading skills - nice one! 👊🏿

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