Initial Thoughts on Spotting Patterns
How do you get the most from the books you read? This is a question I have thought about a lot since hosting The Invisible Mentor 2015 Reading Challenge. I believe that the best way to get the most from the books you read is by spotting patterns, connecting the ideas from one book to another. That’s an interesting thought, but how does someone go through the process?
I find that hosting the Reading Challenge is stretching me, because to do the job well, I have to create the right environment for others to get the most from the books they read. I spent hours at the Toronto Public Library researching how to spot trends, and I did not have much to show for my efforts. It was frustrating. However, in my effort to do a good job of hosting this Challenge, it slipped my mind that spotting patterns are similar to analyzing information. I conducted research for several years, so I should know better.
While reflecting on spotting patterns, it occurred to me that the process is easier if you take great notes while reading the books. Since 2004, when I first started to review and summarize books, I always had a section in the summary called Five Great Ideas, where I would note information that struck me as interesting. If you extracted the great ideas from the books that you read, when you review your notes, you will be able to connect the books that have similar ideas.
You can also spot patterns when you identify the major themes in the book. And there are times when you will notice themes while you are reviewing your notes. For instance, I read The Invisible Man by HG Wells, and a few weeks later, I read The Whip: a novel inspired by the story of Charley Parkhurst by Karen Kondazian, but it’s after the fact, but before I wrote the book reviews, that I noticed that both books are about invisibility. In the HG Wells’ book, the character uses chemicals to become invisible, while in Karen Kondazian’s book, the character becomes invisible by her choice of clothing.
UPDATE: First Published in January 2015
Since writing this post, I completed the Read the World Extreme Reading Challenge in 2016 and now I am hosting and participating in the Strategic Reading Challenge to learn key skills to thrive in 2020. The Read the World Extreme Challenge challenge has been updated to v 2.o – Strategic Reading Challenge – where participants read books to thrive in the future.
Have you read?
Taking Better Notes – Learning to Abbreviate Words
To Remember More of What You Read, Take Notes by Hand
Tips on Note-taking: The Art of Writing While Listening
Book Reviews – The Invisible Man by H G Wells vs. The Whip by Karen Kondazian
Finding Themes in Great Literary Works
In the Great Courses, Life Lessons from the Great Books, Professor J. Rufus Fears, extracts six broad themes from great literary works that you can use as a guide to determine the theme of a book.
“The Unconquerable Human Spirit: Why can your spirit endure so much hardship without crumbling?
Youth and Old Age: How can you cope with the trials and tribulations of youth? Of old age?
Romance and Love: Why can love bring both pain and pleasure? How can you overcome heartache?
Adventure and Courage: How can you find the strength within yourself to face life’s many challenges?
Laughter and Irony: How can humor help to console you in times of trouble? How can it offer us unique perspectives on horrible situations?
Patriotism: What is the true meaning of patriotism?”
The list of themes above, is only a guide because there are many more themes in books, but it’s a great starting point for you. I have not taken the course, Life Lessons from the Great Books, but I have taken, Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life, another video course taught by the professor.
Introductory Guide to Spotting Patterns among the Books You Read
- Read each book with a critical eye.
- While reading, keep the following questions in mind:
- What are some important themes?
- What are the key concepts?
- What information do you already know that you can add to the new information?
- What meaningful connections can you make with your existing knowledge with past experiences?
- How can you rearrange the concepts?
- How are the concepts related?
- Are there any patterns?
- What is being implied, but not explicitly stated?
- Sort information into parts which belong together.
- Integrate your notes.
- Each month, review your notes for each book you read.
- First look at the notes for each book, then look at them as a whole, that is, all the notes from the four books, what do you notice?
- Take note of similarities.
- Contrast information by setting two things in opposition to show the differences.
- Relate pieces of information to establish relationships between and among them.
- Combine contradictory pieces of information, what insights can you generate?
- What are the emerging themes?
- Identify gaps in the information, what assumptions can you make?
Final Thoughts on Spotting Patterns
Imagine the possibilities if you frequently review your notes of the books you read while participating in The Invisible Mentor 2015 Reading Challenge! What would it be like if for one month you only read books that allow you to develop new skills and knowledge, enabling you to perform your job more effectively?
What would happen if you reviewed your notes for each book in relation to each other? I am sure you would discover new ideas that you would not have seen otherwise. In another post, I will delve further into spotting patterns.
Have you read?
Non-Obvious 2018 Edition: How To Predict Trends And Win The Future (Non-Obvious Series)Spotting the Trend: An Entrepreneur’s Success StoryThe Next Big Thing: Spotting and Forecasting Consumer Trends for Profit