Want to get more from books? Stop reading them cover to cover. | Shane Parrish


I have so many friends who want to buy books
and want to learn. But the problem is, they buy a book. They start it. They get two or three chapters in, and then
they stop reading. And then they feel bad that they’ve stopped
reading. They don’t pick up another book because they
know they want to finish this book. We’ve been taught that once we start something
we have to finish it. And I think that so often we view books as
this linear thing. Whereas I think a different view of books
is, what information do I need out of this book right now? Is that an entertainment read? Do I need to read from start to finish? Is it a read where I’m comparing different
views on a similar problem? Especially across non-fiction, right? Am I comparing and contrasting two or three
different authors’ argumentation or authors’ views on a particular angle to a subject? In which case, I might not need to read the
whole book. I just need to read a chapter. But then I’ve gotten everything out of that
book. The books are there to serve you, right? You own the book. The book is your property. It’s your mental property. It’s your physical property. And you can do with it what you want. You don’t have to feel bad about putting down
a book. It’s the author’s job to pull you into the
book. It’s your job to extract what you need out
of the book. And I think that extracting what you need,
you can just read the table of contents, read the introduction, maybe read the conclusion,
and skim a little bit. And is this a book that I want to read in
its entirety? And most of the time, the answer is going
to be no. A lot of the books that are published today
could easily be 20 to 40 pages. You would get everything that you need out
of that book. So it’s a big waste of time to read it cover
to cover. But if you want to extract the general principles
from the book, or the sort of like argumentation that the author’s making, you don’t need to
read every little anecdote that’s put in there, or every story about Billy and Bob. You just need to know what is the framework
for this argumentation? Do I agree with it? Don’t I agree with it? Do I have to make a decision on whether I
agree with it or not? Does a different author have a contrasting
view that I want to learn about? Or is this something that I’m just reading
for general knowledge? I might not put into practice. Or if you think about skill development, right? Which is a common reason that most of us read. We’ll think of, I want to learn about leadership. And we’ll think of this very big, broad category
whereas it’s usually much more beneficial from a learning perspective to narrow down
the aspect of leadership. I want to talk about leading a small team
for the first time. I want to talk about team meetings. I want to talk about what are the– like,
break down what it means to be a leader, and then hone in on those particular categories. Pick up a whole bunch of leadership books. But then read just for those specific categories
across the books. If you’re reading for knowledge, that’s going
to give you a much better outcome than sort of picking up one of these books and reading
it cover to cover. Because it’s going to be hard to put into
practice. It’s going to be hard to compare different
contrasting views on the subject. It’s going to be hard to determine what works
for you. And, ultimately, that’s why you’re reading. You want to figure out what works for you. And that’s not always what somebody else says. A lot of what books cover is, here’s what
worked for me. And what worked for me in this particular
ecosystem, at this particular point in time, with this particular team. That may or may not work for you. Your job is to sort of understand to what
extent does that carry over to what I’m doing? And to what extent do I have to change that? And does it work for me? And if it doesn’t, how am I going to get the
feedback that I need so that I can learn from that and then adapt my process so that it
does work?

100 thoughts on “Want to get more from books? Stop reading them cover to cover. | Shane Parrish

  1. STRONGLY DISAGREE. especially as "reading complete books" relates to children through young adults. There IS a satisfaction from completing a book….cover to cover. IF so called adults CHOOSE to not finish a given leisure reading title "fine"…I'd just consider it as their loss! Seems NO RESEARCH done here….just OPINION. Bleeeech!

  2. The viewpoint and opinion of a quitter . Most all of his "points" cannot be reached without understanding the entirety of the books in question. Logic escapes this wind bag.

  3. This is just feel-good material for people who don't have the attention span or true interest to read a book from cover to cover.

  4. I always read 2 or 4 books at one time jumping back an forth just for the fun of it. LIKE CNN does to it's subscribers.

  5. There are some authors whose first book I read completely then I then dumped their second book because they just don't write well and whose later books I haven't been interested in because I expect the same boring/stupid/incoherent things that I suffered through initially. The same thing as what I did one this video because he basically made his point in 30 seconds, then he repeated the same idea in different words.

  6. This is the most moronic thing I have ever heard. Kindly aim this crap at the "Reality T. V. " watching humans. Ffs!!!

  7. Beware of bald, tight tee shirt wearing, pseudo philosophers, speaking barely above a whisper about how to take what you want and shun the rest.

  8. As a high school English teacher for 15 years and life long reader, I would never spew this bs to my students. The intellectual laziness that this video promotes is dangerous.

  9. I agree with the vid title, if you think about it. BUT I would just say that you should not be afraid to start a book by feeling free to put it down when you have gotten what you want out of it (even if you just want to read the first chapter as a kind of demo).

  10. Ah yes, less reading will make things better. You couldn't possibly miss anything important that way. FFS this is a bad idea. You don't have to read any or all of a book but if you're trying to learn something than do it all the way. What a half ass mentality.

  11. The man clearly didn't have an engineering book in his hands in his entire life… "Just skim the book" he says…

  12. I like how he talks. I feel like I’m in a library and we can’t be rude to others by talking too loud.

  13. So now I can read the introduction (what the books is about) and the summary/conclusion of a book without bothering with the reasons, arguments, context, framework that would allow me to ascertain whether or not the conclusions are even valid and how are they grounded! Yes, that's what I need!
    And I can even gloat about reading 10 books a week on my Goodreads page!

  14. This could work for factual books but definitely not for fiction. Why would you read the final chapter of a book that tells you who the killer is when the whole point of the story was the suspense and not knowing who the killer is.

  15. I have an idea. Just read the back cover, or inside jacket of a book. You can go through 100s in a day. Let's not spend any time reflecting on anything, forget the enjoyment of lingering. It's all about numbers.

  16. Yeah but still most books (novels off course) are written in a linear format and you usually need to go through everything. And even if it doesn't, it's hard to get the guidance you need from reading just the index. Makes more sense to recommend looking into other sorts of media rather than books…

  17. Okay I'm going to say it this was full of shit this sounds like 15 year old me doing book reports tho you should read multiple books at a time if you can manage

  18. I think he means extract the things that you want from it as opposed to just putting it down all right. After all I'm probably reading six or seven books at any one time just kind of go back and forth whenever I eat I feel like it's prudent.

  19. What kind of twisted logic is that? And while we're at it: What the hell is going on with your speakers for the past year, Big Think. Most of them are absolute morons.

  20. It's the journey you go on when reading that mattes; brevity is not the most important aspect. Its the difference between using surgery to lose weight and actually investing in the process eating good and working out.

  21. Want to not actually read books but still be able to tell people you read books?😃

    This shit goofy as hell😂

  22. Mr. Parrish, you are missing the entire point of having a conversation with an author. This video is demonstrates the problem(s) of your generation. You are a jackass.

  23. I think this video should be towards books that aren't stories because one needs to read the whole story and it doesn't matter whether or not they have an opinion on it. Also, I think that this video is trying to combat laziness which can be solved by one reading what they enjoy. Someone should be able to discern whether they like a book or not and act accordingly.

  24. This could work for SOME books, but not all of them, even if they are non-fiction. A book shouldn’t be longer than it needs (there’s a lot of examples out there), but there’s no mark showing us THIS IS AN IMPORTANT PART, SKIP TO THE NEXT ONE STARTING ON PAGE X. There’s a lot of concepts that are shown throughout a publication and not in one single chapter. And there’s a huge risk of getting everything only on the surface.

  25. I feel like I would agree if his argument was just that it’s better to not finish a book if the alternative is not reading any book for a long time cuz you feel like you have to finish one book before starting another

  26. The author has five reasons why this is necessary, I read 2 but I totally disagree with him and why waste the time reading the rest…. 
    That wasn't in the book, well no I didn't read the whole book, why should that matter.

    The whole premise if this video is how to ensure you never really learn something but just enough to out yourself as a fool while convincing yourself that you are never wrong.

  27. I struggle to finish books. But that isn’t the books fault. It is mine. I need to take my own advice here but – put down social media. Delete your Twitter and read some good books. From cover to cover.

  28. On the contrary such absorption is not fully correct. Take for instance the saying that the reader owns the book only applies to literal storytelling and well readable books…And should not be inferred with reading such categories of books.. However, a good place to apply this reading method is when reading technical books to which (I hope I am not wrong) Dr Feynman said instead of reading it linearly, browse through the book pick or note what you like and the tackle that topics sections… Better yet you can rewrite the chapters in your words..
    So reading story books from any point is quite a fool's erand. After all the effort the author has done from the start was to get you lost and you want to add to your burdens by getting more lost. 😊

  29. I do this but have always felt guilty for not reading the whole book. So good to know it's an effective strategy! ✌❤🌎

  30. Vishen Lakhiani, #mindvalley, can I watch one god damm YouTube self improvement video, without you spamming it?
    For the sake of good God , please and I say fucking please stop spamming every youtube video with your mindvalley marketing exercise.

  31. Wow, that's a lot of dislikes. I don't agree with reading the conclusion first. But I agree on everything else.

    I've abandoned a couple books that I started, and I felt bad at first but now I just think about why I did it, what was the reason I stopped, and that helps me make better purchases in the future.

  32. The problem with non-fiction books compared to the internet is that a lot of the information presented is irrelevant for the reader (e.g. bc he/she already knows it), and that finding the information you seek is difficult.

    On the internet, you can just click the wikipedialinks that will explain to you what a word means, or what is also an interesting topic. You can skip the subtopics with the menu on the left, and go straight to the part you're interested in, instead of having to read the whole book and hoping that part is in there somewhere

  33. lol honestly what is wrong with half of you commenters….Have you never heard of the 80/20 principle?
    some of you are such wastes of energy 🙂

  34. And that's exactly how good books are designed these days: non-fiction and business. Key messages are in the 1-2-3 chapters. Then become fillers, rehashed messages, and specialized read more at the back. The issue is that people would not buy certain books if they are not considered "thick enough" for the percieved value or reader depth in exploring the subject they present

    So most of this is by design.

  35. Sorry yes you have a point but sorry if you’re just going to read small thinhs rather don’t buy a boom and do some research you’re taking away the essense of a book.

  36. OK – in spite of the droning, hipster delivery, the message itself has merit: reading nonfiction is completely different than fiction, and requires more skill. If you want a dramatic example of this, pick a conference book on, say, non-equilibrium thermodynamics: I guarantee you it's one-chapter-one-field, and I guarantee you at least one chapter will be useless to you, even if you are a hardcore researcher specialized in NEQ TD

  37. People with hallow ideas read books with hallow ideas. I can`t believe you made it on making sense podcast. fraud

  38. This is a great idea that I've heard echoed by other thinkers like Sam Harris and Julia Galef. It's a tremendously beneficial lifestyle change that too many smart people never consider. It's also easily strawmanned by people in YouTube comment sections who will misrepresent it just to be snarky 😛

  39. As someone who currently does read books from cover to cover, I think what he's saying is perfectly okay. This advice is clearly not meant for people like me, it's for people who don't have the time or mindspace to read as much as I do but who WANT to, and if it takes away their fear and shame and it makes it easier for them to do something that they want to do, if it encourages people to think about things little more than they currently are, if it helps them get a little bit closer to discovering what it is that fascinates them and what they want to one day deep dive properly into, or even if it just helps them learn something new – that's okay. This technique will not make anyone an SME. It will help them learn more about the world. I think that's okay.

  40. Mostly I would recommend: Stop reading only the covers. Read the book from inside. Twice.

  41. Teaching myself how to weld and I spend time reading up on various techniques and metallurgy. I was a couple of chapters in a Haynes techbook, I read a section about the bad habits soldering can bring when learning how to TIG. That one section improved my ability to weld multiple times more than the rest of the book combined.

  42. Not one of your 'new/non-standard' goals can be achieved without reading the book either.
    You can't possibly know if you've got everything you want out of a book no matter how limited without reading it first.

    …not unlike hearing people speak, in fact m..

  43. Depends on the genre or type of the book. Is it scientific and you need to learn something from it then yeah you are stating the obvious or is it a story or something like that then you would be an idiot to skip chapters.

  44. Sorry but this is such an entitled whiny lazy argument! If the book you’re reading is repetitive and light on information (like this video) then skip it. You can’t compare and contrast complicated ideas?? Yeah, better to skip around and find what speaks to you since this book is irritating because it’s not aimed directly at your preferences 100% of the time. Did you ever consider that the writer includes every idea and anecdote for a purpose?? Often such a technique allows the idea to blossom in a manner which reaches your mind (and/or heart) in such a way that the idea can take root so you can explore it at your leisure. Reading only the main topics may award you a mental gold star of accomplishment, but it affords you no growth, intellectually nor spiritually. You want everything now now now! It speaks poorly of you, this channel and honestly your whole cadre of lost millennials.

    Note: A book is not ever the purchaser’s intellectual property by definition (check copyright laws).

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