how naval reads a book

reading to satisfy genuine curiosity

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When most people read, they focus on completion. once the book is finished, it’s as if we’re done absorbing what we needed from it. but just like I forget many scenes from a film I’ve just watched, we forget much of what we read, unless you have a photographic memory.

If you resorted to cramming and rote memorization in school, you don’t know how to learn. and if you’re in grade school, the teachers clearly don’t know how to learn either. the system is broken in so many ways.

how naval reads a book

I no longer track books read or even care about books read. it's about understanding concepts.

There’s a lot of nonsense in books out there too so I don't read anymore to complete books. I read to satisfy my genuine intellectual curiosity and it can be anything.

I will read for understanding so a really good book I will flip through. I won't actually read it consecutive in order and I won't even necessarily finish it. I'm looking for ideas, things that I don't understand. And when I find something really interesting, I'll reflect on it I'll research it and then when I'm bored of it I'll drop it or I'll flip to another book. Thanks to electronic books, I've got 50-70 books open at any time in my Kindle or iBooks and I'm just bouncing around between them.

It's also a little bit of a defense mechanism to how in modern society we get too much information too quickly and so our attention spans are very low. you can view that as a negative and be like I have no attention span or you could view that as a positive—I multitask really well and I can dig really fast. I can if I find a thread that's interesting I can follow through five social networks through the web through the libraries through the books and I can really get to the bottom of this thing very quickly.

Naval reads for understanding and to fulfill genuine curiosity, not for completion, which often leads to shallow understanding, or for vanity metrics.

He doesn’t read one book at a time. He hops in and out of books in his virtual bookshelf, like you’d flip channels on a tv. What’s the difference between doing that and scrolling through your feed on social media? The only difference is probably how much you’d learn.

He doesn't read books cover to cover. he'll find a new idea, and ponder it for hours. i'm about to exaggerate a bit, but whatever. he ponders it for hours, with every inch of his body. his muscles, all of his synapses, every thought focused on this idea. you want to see this idea from different vantage points, walking around the entire coffee cup. realize that there is no book, only how you perceive the information.

If you're thinking about a question in your head every day, you'll likely remember the answer to that question you read in a book than the answer to questions you haven't been asking which were also in that book.

When you flesh out an idea, similar to how entire articles are written based on a tweet from Jane Wong (looking at you TechCrunch), so you don't necessarily have to read the entire chapter or paragraph to gain the knowledge you needed from said book.

It's also about retention. and we retain information better if we process it, have discussions, teach someone else. the truth is books aren't designed to promote learning. true learning happens with spaced repetition, tackling an idea from different, angles, discussing about to to gain new perspectives, connecting that idea to the knowledge base in our head. holistic learning. visceral learning. creating a memory palace or emotional connection to that information.

Your understanding deepens as you reread. but our society is leans towards the new, and the way we consume content has led us to be shallow. we consume constant streams of information, in hopes to feel informed. but what can we say we know off the top of the head? What do we know intuitively? What can we derive about the world from first principles? Did any of the content I read in the last week mean anything? Are current events distracting me from the questions that really matter? Do I even know myself? 

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