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Read better - your key to success in life and career.
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Read Better -
Your Key to success in life and career

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Reading is your key to survival. Why? Every day we have a lot of reading material to handle; memo, meeting minutes, magazines, newspapers, books, etc. How well you master the reading skill determines how well you incorporate new knowledge into your work.

Think about these questions:

How many books sitting on your bookshelf have you not read through or even the first three chapters?

How many times you have difficulty recalling the details of a book after you have read through carefully, page by page from the beginning to the end?

On the contrary:

Can you imagine that you can grasp more than 50% of the ideas brought about by a book within the first few minutes of reading?

Have you ever thought of the possibility that you can master the concepts and ideas from the author without having really started to read his/her book?

If you want to know more, continue reading.....

I regularly hold reading skill seminars teaching university students how to do "active reading". It is against the traditional passive reading (or linear reading) that is taught in our school life.

I invented the term "layered reading" to describe this technique. Instead of reading linearly from beginning to the end, we should treat reading as a "chaotic" reading process. "Chaotic" means you can read the book upside down, from the end to beginning or starting anywhere in the middle of the book and ending wherever you think it is appropriate.

Does this seem crazy? No.

Tony Buzan, the famous English psychologist, regards that our brain functions the best in relating different things together when learning something new. That is, we have to relate the knowledge to our existing know-how in order to digest and memorize well the new substances. Reading linearly inhabits this process.

Let me share my experience of using this method with you. I constantly have more than 100 different books on my bookshelves. I read them many times. Each time I look into different chapters or different sections of a book, I make notes and jog down my thoughts.

Surprisingly, I've found that I get different ideas and opinions every time. They are just the same books. And I think I can better comprehend the materials and gain more insight in this style of reading. And I've never been afraid of reading a thick book because I know I can start reading anywhere and stop anywhere. Whether the book is thick or thin does not bother me.

For the past ten years, I have read more than 500 books using the layered reading method. They are all of different subjects and titles. To my surprise, I can even cross-relate the ideas of different authors on different subjects. This exercise helps me build my own knowledge by incorporating different ideas of different thinkers. Sometimes, you are excited to find that you can apply an idea from a medical book to your day-to-day company management work. Or you can borrow an idea from an art book to apply to people-to-people communication skills.

The layered reading method is totally contrary to many people's reading habit. They read linearly and slowly line by line and page by page. They think this is the best way to comprehend "everything" in a book. I watch people reading in bus, train, or underground and it is not uncommon for many of them to use the linear reading method.

But the fact is this method lets you lose most of the valuable materials -- author's idea in the book! I don't know if you have that experience. You try to read a book slowly and carefully going through it line by line and page by page, hoping that you can understand more and gain more insights from that book. When you have finished reading the last sentence, you've found that you can hardly recall most of the details of the book.

This is just because you cannot relate the stuff you have read to your vast knowledge of related experience. You tend to forget the new ideas and contents as soon as you turn your pages from beginning to the end. At the very moment you have finished reading a book, you have lost most of the ideas in the book. To make things even worse, your memory quickly fades away as time goes by. Try to pick up a book you have read several months before, you might find yourself hardly recalling anything. Your mind goes totally blank about the book.

There is one point at which I think you need linear reading. That is the time when you are reading a novel. You certainly don't want to know what is going to happen at the end before you go through the beginning. Otherwise, practice active reading in your daily life.

Read my little booklet helps you understand that what we mean by active reading. Follow the layered reading method to sky rocket your comprehension power.

We are in the information world. There is no doubt whether we have enough information. What worries us is how we can digest and incorporate the new information in our job and life.

From the Desk of
Damen Choy

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