First, let’s separate out self improvement books from other books we read. Novels, biographies, histories and similar books require time and attention to read and enjoy. Not so with self improvement books. Most could have been written in 15 pages or less. Each has a central theme or tenant and each spends 200-400 pages to explain that big idea, why it works and how to apply it to your life. About 80% of each of these books consists of fillers to justify the price tag of the book. I’m not suggesting these books don’t offer value. Many provide great insights that are life changing and affirming. But to be honest, the same idea could have been conveyed in an article. Some in a post. Some even in a tweet.
So how do you get the most value out of these books in the least amount of time? I recommend you go to a bookstore to peruse these books. Don’t view them online. You can always purchase a digital version, but spend the time to skim through the hard copies of these books.
Read the title, the recommendations on the back and inside cover, the about the author sleeve and the table of contents. The table of contents is the most important element of the book. The author’s big ideas are outlined in the table of contents. Then skim through the book and read all the titles and subtitles and sentences that are in bold. These are the heart of the book. This is what the book is about. Here is where you will find the big ideas and how to apply them in your life. In about five minutes, you’ll know whether the author in fact has a great idea and whether it applies to your life and can change your life’s trajectory for the better.
Assuming your perusal reveals a book worth reading, you can purchase a hard copy or but a digital version on your phone. When you read the book, skip the countless anecdotes, digressions, studies and research and get to the heart of the message and how it applies to you and how to apply it to your life. By doing this, you can read any self improvement book in under two hours, most likely under an hour.
Take the time and explore your local bookstore and find those self improvement books that really speak to you.