How to Read Business Books When You’re Too Busy to Read
About 11,000 business books are published every year. Here’s a strategy to get through the most important ones.
During my sophomore year of high school, a family moved into our rural southeastern Wisconsin school district. The two kids had been educated at private schools in the inner suburbs of Chicago, which was immediately evident by the books they were reading. The son was a year older than me, and his selections of Poe, Twain, and Fitzgerald were distantly familiar, but one day he entered reading Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book. You can imagine the number of times he was sarcastically asked, “How do you read a book about reading books if you don’t know how to read a book?”
I may have been one of the kids mocking that boy, but 30 years later, my view could not be more different. During the year Jack Covert and I took to write our book, The 100 Best Business Books of All Time, we read and reviewed a new book each week. While both of us had reviewed books for years, the pace of the book project made it essential for us to discover a set of reading rules that could be used to save time and improve comprehension as we navigated the thousands of business books that are published each year.
Start at the end
About 11,000 business books are published each year, so finding the right ones to spend your time on is no small challenge.
Let’s say you’ve picked up a book, either because it caught your interest while browsing a bookstore or because a trusted source recommended it. How do you know if it’ll be worth your time?
If a book’s introduction doesn’t make you want to keep reading, chances are the rest of the book isn’t going to do much for you either.
Several years ago, Les Tuerk, co-founder of the speaker’s bureau BrightSight Group, told me that he started every book at the end. Not the last chapter or the last couple pages, but the index. Les explained that all the key concepts, companies, and prominent individuals discussed in the book could be found in the index, providing a useful snapshot of what to…