Why do you read? Reading is for enjoyment, for entertainment, because it is required (for school or work). Reading is also for learning. Reading can change your life. Think hard about the last thing that you read. What have you done with what you learned?

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones (no relation) said, “You are the same today you’ll be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”

I am a slow reader and even today I have to read some sentences two or three times until I understand what what I just read. When you read like me, sometimes reading is not fun. But reading is one of the best ways to learn because what you read and what you do with the information you read is up to you.

There is great satisfaction in finishing a book. You can put it on your book trophy shelf. You may even take notes while reading the book but how often do you take time to use the notes that you wrote? To be honest, in many cases, as soon as you move on to the next book you have mentally forgotten what you have learned. How do you apply the information that you learn from reading?

A book that changed my reading life was “Love is the killer app” by Tim Sanders. Success Magazine (my favorite magazine) just posted about a visit from Tim Sanders earlier this week. In a section of Tim s book he describes how to read a book so that it becomes a tool for you. He uses a “cliffing” technique to extract the most important information and quickly access it later. That one concept has completely changed my reading life. I have significantly increased the number of books that I read because I have more purpose in my reading. I turn the books in to tools of reference.

With the next book you read try these techniques:

  • Underline key concepts. Some information just grabs you. You may think that it is something you will remember. But you won’t. Underline it. The effort of underlining makes an additional connection in your brain.
  • Make a note about the information you underline. This may seem like a tedious task. Writing a note about the information makes an even more significant connection in your brain. These notes go on the blank pages at the beginning and end of the book. Hint: include the page number with your note since you are writing anyway.
  • Review the book after completing it. Reviewing a book becomes very easy and quick with your underlines and notes. You will find that it is like re-reading the entire book when you read your notes. And, re-reading the book takes just minutes.
  • Extract key notes for action. There is a reason you underlined and noted the information. Determining action with a few of the most compelling ideas from your notes. This will ensure that the book makes a change to your life.
  • Make tasks of key notes. Assign them as actions to take. Don’t feel like you have to assign action to every note, just assign action to 2 – 5 of the key notes you wrote. Make the extra effort of determining when you will complete each task.

M. Scott Peck, MD said, “Once a mind is truly stretched, it never returns to its former dimensions. Reading a book does not truly stretch your mind. Taking action on what you learned is what stretches your mind. That is when a book changes your life.

Look back at the last book or two that you have read. What do you remember from these books? How have these books changed your life? Please leave a comment to share some of your favorite books.