Not only that, but figures and plots provide far more information density than words, and books don't frequently include them in large quantity. I've found scientific literature and a number of very high quality bloggers to be a much more efficient source of reading material.
That's not to say this is always true - biographies in particular seem to have the most consistently large content / page count.
Somewhat related is that I'll read chapters out of order. Many books follow an approach of "laying the foundation" before making the point. 40 pages of laying the foundation is a logical step but unfortunately is not done well in most cases.
Depending on your subject of study, you might find older books written for a smaller but more discriminating historical audience worth your while. Of course you'll miss on innovation and critical thought since the date of original publication, but Sturgeon's law suggests that much of that may be dispensable depending on the historical scope of the subject. Dover Books specializes in affordable reproductions of obscure or neglected works on a wide variety of topics.
With you here, I thought the same with "Quiet" and "Scarcity". It's not even about arrogance, more like time economy - I can move on and do other things, while those newly learnt principles stew away in the mind shed.
>I've found scientific literature and a number of very high quality bloggers to be a much more efficient source of reading material.
Try the Count of Monte Cristo for example :)
Much that is written on film theory is a doomed attempt to reconcile aesthetic practice to Marx, Freud or other critical thinkers, but you may enjoy the Lacanian musings of Slavoj Zizek or Joan Copjec, especially this anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Shades-Noir-Haymarket-Joan-Copjec/dp/...
Previously the majority of the books I read came in the form of cheap ebooks from the Kindle store. As a result, I often abandoned them (or even just forgot about them), only reading a few chapters. Now though, when I spend £30 on a single book, damn right am I going to finish it.
Plus, as a result of the curation, there isn't a single book on their site that isn't at least worth a glance. The same can't be said for many physical bookstores, let alone Amazon, etc.
And, the best part is, I don't really need these expensive books anymore. I've gotten into such a habit of reading because of them that I'm buying regular books again and I'm reading for at least an hour or two a night.
That's an interesting exploitation of the sunk cost fallacy. 
a) cost is high enough compared to your income
b) you are a reasonable person, and value your money enough to care
I tried to use this tactic many times, mostly to hone my programming skills - didn't work. Damn, I recently entered a postgraduate program at the university, for 2500$ cost - didn't help much, still can't force myself to spend more time learning things.
However, as you correctly noticed, these techniques don't work well. That's normal, don't worry if these simple solutions don't work. Maybe you think they should work, because you often hear from people for whom "that one weird trick" worked. Or that one complicated technique. But usually these are the same people who try to sell you their book on that topic.
Instead, you need to the root of this issues, which may involve finding your true priorities, and may involve actively changing your habits. All this may be really hard, and you'll fail and retry many times - especially when trying to do this alone. Heck, there's a whole profession around helping people to fix these types of issues - some of them are highly qualified, others are charlatans. (The latter often call themselves "coaches" as that term doesn't require much qualification, so that they can't be sued if they do a bad job.)
There is certainly some stigma around this, because most people think that going to a therapy means you have some serious mental illness. But that's nonsense. There's a huge variety of issues, small and lager, and all physicians are fully aware of this broad spectrum.
The defining criteria is always: Does the person suffer from that issue? (Sometimes also: Do the people around that person suffer from it?) And, of course: What's the best way to help them?
Moreover: If they can help people to get away and stay away from alcohol and other drugs, and are able to talk a violent to cooperation, which are both much harder tasks than anything discussed here, then they can help with "smaller" psychological issues as well.
And compared to people with some 3-months crash course, they know exactly what they do, and have all forms of therapy applied to themselves as well, that's a vital part of the training.
For reference, I'm talking about the situation here in Germany. But I think this should be very similar in other countries, too.
Buy a month's worth of gym visits as a commitment mechanism, quit after the first one without regrets. Sunk costs are sunk.
Unless you have some set goal to know a certain body of knowledge (as I presume the four above have), reading should be done leisurely -- not a race to read, and half-understand, as many books as possible.
* While I don't think reading will make me successful, I do find the habitual focus/relaxation aspects of reading to be beneficial
* Regarding paper books vs e-readers, as much as I like the idea of carrying a book in my pocket everywhere, I somehow allow myself to get distracted even on a Paperwhite (I'll start browsing the library and/or shopping for other books), and so I've been thinking of going back to regular old paper books
* Decision fatigue! I spend way more time fretting over what to read next than I do reading
Regarding audiobooks, I enjoy "reading" books in that format, but I have wondered lately about the downside of constantly being plugged in; it's a great way to pass the time doing dishes, but I imagine it's also good to give your brain time to sit quietly without input. It's also a struggle to resist the temptation lose myself in escapist fiction all the time; there's a thin line (for me, anyway) between the type of reading that exercises your ability to focus and the type of reading that acts as a palliative.
On second look, it appears the link was changed from a summary of a Harvard Business Review article on Quartz.com to the actual Harvard Business Review article. The summary had lots of survivorship bias, and the HBR version does not. Thought I had lost my mind for a minute there.
There's practically _zero_ of these mega-successful people (Gates, Buffett, Zuckerburg, Musk, etc.) who don't read. Astonishingly, I can't think of a single one. While that doesn't prove causation, it definitely points at it! Do you want to try to be the first successful person who didn't read?
It's not that reading was this one magical trick that caused them to be successful, but rather that reading was a prerequisite. At least, that's my take.
Citation needed, as well as a definition of "don't read".
For example, for several years now I have been reading a lot less books than ever before in my life, almost zero. However, I took several dozens of courses on edX and Coursera and read a lot of documents on the Internet. Just no books, and a lot less newspaper and magazine articles.
The best way to read more books is to make time for it and read books you enjoy.
And after that I was like 'wew. Okay, I enjoyed that and learned a lot and have, but my life isn't THAT much better because of it.' I've definitely traded investing in relationships or other hobbies for it.
So I've since to slowed down to about 27 a year, and have found that's a good pace for me.
Why cut down on Dopamine? Relating to Digtal Signal processing, think of your brain like an Envelope detector. When you keep supplying large peaks of Dopamine levels, the 'mundane' is considered noise. Reducing peaks the said peaks will allow you to tune the envelope detector and also consider 'noise'. Eliminating all the peaks would be ideal but likely un-realistic. Shitty analogy, but thats how I taught it to my self; relating an idea to a concept I already somewhat understand.
One of my favorite ideas from the book is the idea of reading for "enlightenment":
"It is true, of course, that you should be able to remember what the author said as well as know what he meant. Being informed is prerequisite to being enlightened. The point, however, is not to stop at being informed."
You don't just want to memorize what an author said, you want to elevate your level of "understanding" to a point where you understand the topic nearly as well as the author does! With that as a goal, your focus quickly shifts from reading 100 books in a year to properly educating yourself.
1) Goodreads to track books, maintain a to-read queue, share reviews, etc. Plus the "reading challenge" feature, which shows if you're on-track or not (2016: 52 originally, then 68. 2017 goal: 78, but possibly 104.)
2) Kindle -- not having to physically deal with books while traveling, and having access to my entire collection.
3) Audible -- when driving, flying, trying to fall asleep, etc., audiobooks are preferable to text (at least for me). Certain books work very well as audiobooks (better than text, even), and some are worse.
4) Synced audio/kindle -- being able to switch back and forth on a single book between the two formats on demand
Listening to Marcus Aurelius before bed while brushing my teeth turns out to be a good meditation.
How many times were we discussing something we read and all we can really say is "I read a book on it. something to do about blah blah. I forget the details." No real insight or grasping of the material in one read.
Maybe a book club that focuses more on grasping fewer books very intimately over constantly reading new ones. Just a thought.
Once your reading is not going "put-put-put" and your unbroken attention span reaches an hour, you may feel like you need to re-read. Certainly, it's a nice experience but it's really a waste of time re-reading everything.
On a side note, I wish audible would make downloading the accompanying figure PDFs less cumbersome. Currently,it seems to be impossible to get them through the mobile app and one needs to use the website to download them.
2. Get your tax dollars’ worth out of your library card
To add to this, shoutout to the Overdrive app/site which makes borrowing ebooks/audiobooks from libraries extremely easy.
Edge browser has a button to read eBooks (EPUB files) aloud. The voices resemble human speech but that's not why I use it.
Edge does something that make me prefer speech-to-text over audio books. I've got many unread Audio books because it's a passive activity. My body just itches to do something.
On Edge, the words are highlighted as they are being read. Thus I actively read as I listen. And most importantly, distraction is no biggie - just spot the flashing words. Also, it's easy to spot and make up when the voice mispronounces words.
I upgraded my phone to the Creators update hoping to use Edge to read on the go. However, the result was disappointing. They are definitely different browsers sharing the same name.
Luckily an eBook reader called Freda+ reads aloud pretty well. It only highlights paragraphs rather word-by-word like edge - better than no highlight.
My eyes tire easily when reading on computer - eye issues, glare, sleep deprivation... Without speech recognition, I'll read far less books.
Note: Edge works only on EPUB files which is pretty disappointing as EPUB files are html docs.
It took some time to get used to it but it works!
Can you recommend a speaker? I thought about that too but never took it really serious.
It does the job, I dunno if I would recommend it but I got it for 20 notes. The only annoyance is after charging, your device won't see the speaker unless you "Forget Device" and re-pair.
There's a house 2 blocks from me where an old Volvo is always in the driveway, with a bumper sticker that says:
> BLOW UP YOUR TV
I always walk by that place and think, those people must be cool. I've never put a TV set in any place I've lived.
But I've noticed lately when I walk by there at night... they have a big TV on. I wonder if it has a sticker on it that says
> BLOW UP YOUR CAR
* Deciding which book to read next out of the seemingly infinite decision space (which book is optimal?)
* Reading books "well", such that you truly elevate your level of understanding of a topic to that of the author, and then remember what you've learned.
Notably, I think "Read More Books", the title of the article, is more of a symptom. If people could choose the _right_ books and then read them satisfyingly enough to truly become smarter and wiser, reading would be such a great deal that no one would have the problem of needing to read "more".
What's craziest is that these problems are the same ones readers faced centuries ago. Reading hasn't evolved at all! People still prefer reading physical books in the world of the internet and data science. And how do readers choose books? One-off recommendations from people that they may or may not trust.
I think with technology we can do a lot better. Specifically, I've been hacking on solving the two aforementioned problems with books such that we can read and learn like it's really 2017. Would love advice/conversation with any reading-inclined HNers! I'm firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in a specific topic, then usually you can find discussions of "game changing" books in that topic. Or trace the "tree" of current books to earlier books in the topic.
If you want to know what influenced an author, take a look at the sources the book cites. A quick Google search revealed a bunch of sites which offer search for book / pub citation info. Maybe that's a good place to start.
An interesting service might be to take this a step further and add some sort of visualization for a given topic.
As for the "game changing" books, I definitely agree! It seems that most areas seem to have those "seminal" books that most of the other books in the genre reference non-stop. One example that jumps out at me is Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which seems to be referenced by every book I can get my hands on.
The visualization of a tree is definitely interesting: I suppose the goal of it would to be able to find the roots.
Relocating around Europe made it quite tough to carry all my book hardcopies with me: SICP, CTM, TAOP...
Finally, it seems 13 inch eink readers with support for arbitrary formats (thanks to them running Android, or even capable to process input HDMI video) will become mainstream. To me that's the way to read more books. Thousands of technical books in an eye-friendly tablet. I wonder why it took so long.
Have you tried it? I personally can't stand reading technicle books on my 6"kindle. If the 13" is a better experience I'm upgrading.
This last feature is a game changer.
I have tried Onyx 13 inch readers, and its a very good experience on technical ebooks, which I get on djvu and pdf formats.
By this, I suppose you mean e-ink paper vs. a backlit LCD?
There is ample research to suggest that electronic paper (e-ink) screens don't offer any advantage over a backlit screen (say an iPad), except may be for reading under the Sun.
People do spend more time devouring content over computer monitors and mobiles phone (both are backlit) than on any other device. Have you tried reading normally over an iPad/standard Android tablet instead?
I was being sarcastic, obviously.
1) It's a habit.
2) Cultivate the garden of your interests.
- Find resources for reading recommendations (NY Review of Books, NYT Book Review, POD casts, NPR radio);
- Devise a system to collect reading recommendations and to revisit (ie. 3x5 cards, *.txt files you can grep);
3) Get books. Find a convenient and impulsive source for books.
- Visit your public library!
- Reduce the stress of putting down a book that's boring (unless you're wealthy, then Amazon to you heart's content).
- Most public libraries let you search online, reserve, call you when your book is ready, then just go pick it up.
4) Develop better reading habits (mostly for non-fiction):
- Can't get into a book? Start at the index (in the most xtreme cases I list my interests reading the index, then tally which chapters have the most points of interest and read those first!)
- Learn the vocabulary.
- Pencil marginalia. Limited set of what I call "sign-posts". A small check-mark to flag an important passage or line is sufficient. (Underlining is awful; don't do it. If everything is important, than nothing is most important).
- Keep a piece of scrap paper and write down a great idea you had while reading--this will clear your mind of your great idea, and let you get back to reading. And it also keeps your interest, because who doesn't like having great ideas?
5) Write a brief book review for every book you read for the rest of you life. Save this as a simple text file. MLA bibliographic entry. Few paragraphs about the book. Done.
The two things that have made the difference for me are:
* use the library! I only paid for 1 of those 24 books. Of the others 1 was a physical book from the library and the other 22 were library ebooks. I rarely find things I want to read that they don't have in ebook format (although often you need to 'request a hold' and wait as they can only loan out each copy to so many people at once). For context, I'm in Austin, TX
* make reading a deliberate evening activity. I used to only read when I was in bed and then be frustrated with my progress. I've started reading on my lunch break at work, and also in place of other evening activities (TV, internet, guitar etc). If I do 30 mins at lunch, an hour in the evening and then some in bed I can finish a reasonable length book per week.
During sophomore year (college, Engineering), I spent a lot of time commuting (could stack up to 6 hours in a day) so I was reading philosophy, economics, neuro linguistic programming, psychology, etc. during this time. I live in a country where I can't just buy any book (low availability) and electronic payment wasn't introduced until recently and I didn't have a laptop 10 years ago, so I'd print 4 book pages per A4 sheet, then they'd get folded an make a small book I'd pierce in the center and sort of bind. 500 sheets were about $5 that time.
I also read everywhere, especially in the toilet, which I think is a habit I picked up from home (I grew up with a book shelf in the toilet and we used to call the bathroom the "National Library"). As a matter of fact, I'm writing these very lines sitting on the throne.
I've never read as much as during my unemployment (I could read like 20 hours per day, but it's not for everyone).
On my way to work and after work, I reach for my laptop and get stuff done if I'm fortunate to have a seat. I work on features, do refactoring, etc. If I'm standing, I get my phone and read an ebook.
By the way, I recently found Aaron Swartz' blog posts in epub format. https://github.com/joshleitzel/rawthought
The takeaway from this is the following:
- Making the most out of time that would otherwise be wasted: amortizing commute time, waiting time, etc.
- Exposing myself to a variety of topics opened up a graph of interest that sent me to different directions and topics. I've learned a lot of things.
The year my son was born I spent hours everyday pushing him in a stroller to help him stop crying and give his mom a break. I read / listened to 105 books that year, which ended up being too much. I couldn't remember most of what I read / listened to. The next year I had to re-read many of the books.
The sweet spot for me is between 40 and 50, although I've adjusted my goal from number of books to subject mastery. Focusing on a subject I care about and studying books, articles, etc. on the subject has ended up being more rewarding. In addition, I have a handful of books I read simply for the joy of reading.
It means I unnecessarily postponed reading excellent books such as "Titan" by Chernow.
My kindle has 470 books on it with 86 of them not complete or that I have only skimmed.
Audible account is up to 70 with 26 unfinished.
And I have about a dozen paper books to finish too which is from the point about reading physical books. I find for technical topics I do way better retaining and studying from paper books than kindle ones so I've started buying paper again.
Public transit makes a good excuse to read, since I find it a rather difficult place to do "real" work, but there's also a lot of downtime.
Also, despite what this article says, I found that purchasing a Kindle really made reading a lot less of a chore.
From there you can unzip it and the chapters exist as basically html files.
I track everything on Goodreads, and it has been working out great.
Humble Bundle sometimes has audio book bundle deals, usually Dr Who.
Many folks will use audiobooks while multi-tasking (driving, cleaning) where the brain is partially distracted from absorbing, reflecting on, and internalizing the book contents.
I reserve audiobooks for fiction, autobiographies, and other light materials where I'm not learning so much as consuming content.
I'm certain that there are quality book clubs, social or even recommendation engines that might help you get started finding more literature that's personally interesting to you. Maybe the HN crowd knows of some quality sources for personally interesting literature?