I went down a blog maintenance rabbit hole yesterday and checked and updated all reviews on my book review blog. I had been liberally sending folks over to the blog over the past few years and realized I needed to do a quick check as to whether some of my earlier entries made sense. I had 3 interesting observations from the experience –
1. Themes. It felt like going back in time to different phases of my growth. For example, there was a phase of reading sales books because sales was a part of my role for a start up in undergrad, a phase of reading books on personal finance and investing, a happiness phase, a marriage books mini phase, an MBA book phase, etc.
2. Reviewing and recommending. I changed a few reviews yesterday as I realized my review methodology settled after 80 or so books. It took me a while for me to understand what I appreciated in a book and when things resonated. I think I’ve normalized all reviews now.
The interesting thing about reviews is that they have a lot to do with the specific time in which I read the book. I have come to understand that there is an aspect of reader readiness for many books. If you aren’t ready for an extremely insightful book, you’re not going to make the most of it. So, when I send folks over to the blog when they ask me for recommendations, I always request them to just take the reviews as a guide. Instead, I request them to send me a few books that pique their interest and give me a sense of what they’re looking for. The chances are high that we’ll be able to find something that they’d be ready for. It isn’t so much about what is a great book – it is about what you need to read at that particular point of time.
3. What I remember. As I went through roughly 8 years worth of books, I asked myself what I actually remember from these books? And, I realized that it was often a few ideas combined with a feeling that really resonated for the books I considered “great.” But, I also realized that I wouldn’t have remembered this if I hadn’t taken the time to write down what I remember, synthesize and share.
That brought me to the final learning – the hard part about reading isn’t just reading. That’s where we ought to start. However, if you really want to absorb what you learn from books, it pays to take the time to take notes (~3-4 mins for every 20 mins you read), synthesize and share. That’s when you give yourself time to absorb and assimilate what you read.