Optimal Reading

Read books like magazines.

When we pick up a magazine, we don’t feel guilty if we don’t read every page or if we just do a 5-minute reading spurt. Instead, we often skim to find the most interesting and relevant articles and then go deep and slow on those.


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Don’t you miss out if you read books like magazines?”

“Depends what and why you read.

I like to make a distinction between vertical reading and horizontal reading.

Vertical reading refers to how deep you go into a book – and how much of a book you read.

Horizontal reading refers to how many books you read.

If you read non-fiction and you read to Learn, the optimal approach is to increase horizontal reading and decrease vertical reading.

The Pareto Principle (80/20) applies to reading as well. In every book you read, there’s a number of ideas of interest to you. Of those, only 20% are the real gems – I call those the essential 20. The goal of optimal reading is to discover the essential 20 in as short a time as possible and ignore everything else.

There’s zero value in finishing a book. The real value is in finding the essential 20 and going deep on those.

At a Macro level, optimal reading means learning the essential 20 from a very large number of books.

It’s better to learn the essential 20 from 1000 books, than to finish 500 books.”

“Aren’t some books worth rereading?”

“Some are. About 20% of them.”

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About Dani Trusca

Life-Artist, Thinker, Mover (Traceur)

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