#1329 How I ACTUALLY Read a Book

I Read Archeologically (Like Twyla Tharp)

A couple +1s ago, I promised to tell you more about how I read a book.

Here’s the very short answer…

I read like it’s my job to find Big Ideas that can help me activate my Soul Force so I can help YOU activate YOUR Soul Force.

For one simple reason. It is.


Let’s go to one of my favorite books for a passage that best captures how I read.

In The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp tells us: “When I’m reading archeologically, I’m not reading for pleasure. I read the way I scratch for an idea, digging down deep so I can get something out of it and use it in my work. I read transactionally: How can I use this? It’s not enough for me to read a book. I have to ‘own’ it. I scribble in the margins. I circle sentences I like and connect them with arrows to other useful sentences. I draw stars and exclamation points on every good page, to the point where the book is almost unreadable. By writing all over the pages, I transform the author’s work into my book—and mine alone.”

Yep. That’s exactly how to do it.

Carrying on…

Here are some other things you might find interesting in terms of how I read a book and how I encourage you to consider approaching it.

First, very importantly: I DO NOT speed read.

I read reasonably quickly—40-50 or so pages an hour depending on the font size and complexity of the subject and all that.

But… Again…

I DO NOT “speed read.”

Nor do I try to see how fast I can get through the book per se.

I treat reading a book like it’s my job to mine its depths for the Big Ideas that can change YOUR life as I strive to give you More Wisdom in Less Time via the PhilosophersNotes and these +1s because, again, it is.

I also, even more importantly and less obviously, read a book like I’m lucky enough to sit down and have a GREAT conversation with a BRILLIANT thinker who spent years (if not decades!) reflecting on the subject of their book and then spent another big chunk of time distilling that wisdom into a book they could share with us.

Why in the world would I rush through THAT?


I sit up straight. Pen in hand as I GET TO WORK searching for the Ideas that could change our lives.

I’ll also say that, many years ago, I was interviewing Tony Schwartz about his great book The Power of Full Engagement. He told me that, at the time, he found his brain so full with digital inputs that he had a hard time sitting down and reading more than a page of a book. And, it was at that moment that he knew he needed to significantly reduce his consumption of digital inputs.

Which is a REALLY important point.

If you want to be able to FOCUS your mind on a book (or ANYTHING that is important) for longer than 20 seconds, you need to, in my opinion, start by Conquering Your Digital Addiction and practicing your Digital Minimalism.

A good night of sleep and meditation practice helps as well. 🤓


That’s a little more on how I read a book and that’s Today’s +1.

Let’s bring Twyla Tharp back so she can send us on our way.

She tells us: “If I stopped reading, I’d stop thinking. It’s that simple.”


Books. They do a Hero good.

Here’s to soaking our minds in the wisdom of great thinkers.


Here’s to taking that wisdom and going from Theory to Practice to Mastery Together…


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