A simple mental hack to get more effective learning out of reading books

avnishanand
3 min readDec 12, 2023

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This is a small piece of advice for people who are making an attempt to learn through books.

I am assuming most of you reading non- fiction – self improvement, business etc. You are not used to reading these types of books regularly. There’s a good chance you are struggling. To keep reading. To keep making notes. To keep internalising. So that you learn all the lessons and benefit from this book.

This struggle will become a lot easy if you adjust your expectations. Remember this. Very few people are able to FULLY internalise ALL the lessons from any given book.

More importantly, even fewer people are able to actually implement all these learnings in their life.

The learning benefit of reading happens when you implement. Not just from knowing. Unless you plan to write books or give gyan as a speaker.

So here’s a simple suggestion. Try and aim for implementing ONE useful lesson from the book you are reading. Just ONE. Trust me most people aren’t able to do this. If you are actually able to implement one lesson properly, then you have got great ROI on the effort you have made to read this book. And you should be happy about it. It’s much better than reading and making notes to internalise everything and implementing nothing.

It’s ok even if you don’t finish the book. There’s a storytelling book that I left at 25% because I am trying to first implement the method of saving and cataloguing useful stories.

Don’t get caught up in the FOMO that there’s a lot of good stuff that you are missing. Or have guilt that you are not making an effort to finish this amazing book. It happens to all of us. And a lot of people lie about the books that they claim to read and understood fully. I haven’t finished either of Daniel Kahneman’s two books – 1) Thinking Fast and Slow. and 2) Noise. I am happy with the parts I read and understood and implemented. I am not losing sleep over all the knowledge that I missed out on.

You can always go back and take a second lesson and try implementing it.

I wrote the book summary of Adam Grant’s – Think Again – a few years back. It had 11 lessons. I am still working on trying to implement lesson no 3. Over more than 2 years. The same is true for many other books.

So have a simple goal and make the learning count.

Also remember that these books are very heavy and dense ( sometimes literally also ). You can’t read them fast and you can’t read them continually. These books are like a very rich and heavy meal. Your stomachs can only take so much at one time. And you have to let it digest slowly. Before you can have more of it.

Happy reading and happy implementing

P.S – as I have shared earlier, you can actually learn a lot from fiction.

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