The Fantastic Life

Getting the Most Out of Reading


Today’s LIFEies is short but excellent. Michael Josephson had the below column a few months ago about how to read a great book, and I loved it. Partially because I am just like he is; I highlight books, send pages to people, and try to incorporate what I read immediately.

If you do one thing with this, read the last sentence highlighted in yellow.

And remember to read daily.

Rule #3 from my book The Fantastic Life: Build your Resumes Every Year

We all learned how to read in 1st grade. But how many of us learned how to incorporate what we read into our lives right away? Reading is one of the most effective ways to help you grow. If there’s an area of your life you want to advance in, finding a book and applying its lessons is one of the most helpful ways to do so. Remember, every area of life has a place for constant improvement. Even reading.


Living and Reading

Michael Josephson 

May 14, 2015

One of the most insightful and useful books I’ve ever read is a small volume by Harold Kushner called Living a Life That Matters. Today, I want to suggest ways of getting the most out of books, at least nonfiction books, which is about all I read.

Reading shouldn’t be a passive experience. If you allow yourself to be absorbed in the interaction of the author’s thoughts and your reactions, it’s like a great conversation. I know lots of people think it’s a sin to mark up a book; I think it’s a waste to leave it untouched.

I reread complex, clever, and profound passages several times. I underline them, make notes in the margin, fold back pages, do whatever I can to highlight the parts I found useful or inspirational so I can find them again.

When a passage stimulates thoughts, I immediately write them in the margins or on the blank pages in the front or back of the book. A really good book has me thinking as much as reading, and I never read a book in one sitting. When I restart the book, I revisit my notes like they were old friends.

Both during and after the book I try to communicate what I’ve learned or the new ideas generated in conversations, letters, and even these commentaries. New insights are a great gift, and I think we should share them. I liked Kushner’s book so much that I bought 30 copies and gave them as gifts.

While writing this piece, I realized that the way I approach books is also a decent way to approach life: Live it fully and completely at the time, and live it by remembering it and sharing it.

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