It occurred to me to write a book on selective reading. The idea came to me, but I didn’t know that the term existed. It made sense to me that you could get the most out of the books you read, simply by reading only the relevant sections of the book. That way, you would be able to read more books. I decided to do some quick research on the internet to find out if there was such a thing as selective reading.
What is Selective Reading?
“Selective reading is a process of reading with purpose. Instead of running through a text that might have no practical and esthetic value to you. Reading with purpose will mean only reading the texts that keep the useful information. Useful not necessarily stands for “boring”, you can select any book that carries the knowledge you were craving to gain but thought you have no time for. It develops the ability to select the most important information from the whole text instead of “swallowing” everything without chewing.” Source: Selective Reading: What, Why and How?
I wanted to see if there were other definitions, and I found the following.
“Skimming and scanning are two forms of selective reading. The reader does not read all the content. Instead he/she consciously selects and reads only portions of the text, skipping over a considerable amount. The rate used for skimming and scanning may be 200-400% faster than the normal reading rate.” Source: Skimming and Scanning
The two definitions for selective reading sound good to me. However, since I started reading to learn the 10 skills needed for future jobs, I want to add something. Selective reading also includes selecting the right books to read, and not only sections of the books to read. Let’s say that you are either reading a book for information or to get a deeper understanding of a topic, you would practice selective reading to get the specific information you are after.
UPDATE: First Published January 2017
Initial Thoughts on Selective Reading
If you haven’t read any previous posts about the 10 skills I’m referring to, they are, complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, coordinating with others, emotional intelligence, judgment and decision making, service orientation, negotiation and cognitive flexibility. I’m knowledgeable about all the skills to varying degrees, except for emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility. When people started talking about emotional intelligence more than a decade ago, I bought the Daniel Goleman’s book (Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ), but I must admit that I never got around to reading it.
In a previous post, I said that I would read books to learn the skills, write book summaries for sale, to help those who feel like they cannot read so many books. I have started the process, and I can tell you, that skipping over information that doesn’t teach me the skills has been very difficult, but I am getting much better at it. What has helped me a lot, is the well-known Francis Bacon quote.
“Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.” Francis Bacon
Not every book is meant to be chewed and digested.
Before deciding to read selectively, it begins with your purpose for reading the book in the first place. Do you have to read the book from cover to cover to get what you need? Is what you need in one chapter? Or the information sprinkled throughout the book in one or two paragraphs? Selective reading is very much about what books you choose to read, and which sections in each book you choose to read.
Should You Read Selectively?
I’ve read several places that Theodore Roosevelt, affectionately known as Teddy Roosevelt, read at least two books each day. One in the morning, and before going to bed, if he had time, he would get in another two or three more books. Let’s get serious for a minute. At one point, Teddy Roosevelt was the President of the United States of America, a world superpower. Do you think for one second that all he did was simply sit all day reading? When he was reading, he was totally focused on the act of reading.
But something else was going on. Let’s think critically about this? Does Teddy Roosevelt know something that the rest of us do not know? I think he knows a few things that most of us do not know. He mastered the art of selective reading.
“Many people think reading is an all-or-nothing activity. Either you read every page of the entire book, or you ignore it completely. But the best readers put themselves in control of their books. Especially with non-fiction books, they don’t waste time reading content they’re sure won’t edify them. They only focus on the truly important sections. Roosevelt did this often. He would jump around in search of the meaty nuggets of a book that would inspire him, challenge his opinions, or force him to think critically about some topic.” Teddy Roosevelt 5 Reading Secrets, Brandon Vogt
Note: This e-book is not available for sale, I received it as a bonus when I purchased Brandon Vogt’s program, Read More Books
Selective Reading to Learn 10 Skills Needed for Future Jobs
Although you may think that what I’ve written so far is cool information, you may be wondering where I’m going with all of this. The truth is, you and I are starting a journey to learn 10 skills needed for jobs in 2020. That’s no easy feat. We were taught in school to read a book from cover to cover. That no longer serves us because most books have information you don’t need to know. What we need to do is practice selective reading – intentional reading. We have to learn to select the right books to read, and the right sections in each book we choose to read. Think about that for a minute. Do you see the subtle difference with this definition of selective reading?
If we practice intentional reading, then learning the 10 skills needed for future job will be less overwhelming. This sounds simple enough, but is it? Old habits can be hard to break. I must admit that I struggle with selective reading. I feel guilty that I haven’t read a book if I didn’t read all of it.
How you read a book, depends on your purpose. My purpose for reading the books is to learn the 10 skills. That means that I’m going to zero in on the information that teaches me what I need to learn. Besides reading to learn the skills, I’m also reading to teach others the skills via carefully crafted book summaries.
The resulting book summaries will not be like other book summaries, which aim to keep you up-to-date on the latest business books. My book summaries are aimed at teaching you the 10 skills needed for future jobs – complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, coordinating with others, emotional intelligence, judgment and decision making, service orientation, negotiation, and cognitive flexibility – in less time.
My Experience Reading Books to Learn the 10 Skills Needed for Future Jobs
However, as I read books to learn the 10 skills, what I have noticed, is that the one book I’ve read so far on emotional intelligence, I couldn’t read it selectively. I found myself reading it mostly cover-to-cover. There were some statistics in the book that I read quickly, but didn’t home in on them.
Perhaps I read nearly all the book because the topic was unfamiliar to me. If that’s the case, if you want to learn a new skill that’s unfamiliar to you, could you practice selective reading? Or would you have to read all the book? My response is that it depends on the content of the book. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is a short book, packed with a lot of information that I needed to learn. I read most of the book to familiarize myself on the topic. For the next emotional intelligence book, I suspect that I can read it more selectively.
Another thing that I’d like to say, is that before you read a book, you should skim and scan it. One of the easiest ways to do this, is to start with the Table of Contents, then browse the book to get a general overview of what the book is about. At the time of writing this post, all the books I’ve read so far are e-books. For those who may not know, an e-book author decides what section of the book readers will see when they first open the book. And that section is often after the Table of Contents.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t find it easy to skim and scan an e-book, so I don’t. This prevents me from intentionally deciding which sections of the book to read. What has happened though, is that for some of the books I’ve read so far, by quickly glancing at sections, I can quickly decide if I can skip over it.
Have you read?
Final Thoughts on Selective Reading
Is selective reading something that you practice? If not, are you willing to give it a try. Perhaps it’s time to start reading books like Teddy Roosevelt!