Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reading the Year Out

The love of reading is a gift given by my father at an early age and one I put to constant use. I'm closing out 2009 with my annual reading post: "How to Read a Book", and my Top 10 Books of the Year.

Reading is more than a hobby to me: it's a passion. To help feed this passion and not go totally broke, I am a frequent visitor to our local library. In 2009, I checked out 130 books, plus dozens of magazines. I also added another few dozen titles to my personal library. I'm grateful for friends who give me books and an editor who regularly sends me publisher's preview copies. In 2010, I'm looking forward to being a part of Multnomah Press's blog tour of their titles. In order to read this much in a year, I've learned a few things.

To get the most out of a book in the least amount of time, try this strategy:

  1. Read the title.

  2. Read the introduction.

  3. Read the Table of Contents.

  4. Flip through the material, scanning the chapter titles and sub-headings. Note the words that stand out as bold, different colors, underlined, or italicized.

  5. Examine the illustrations, captions, charts and diagrams. Read the pull-quotes and sidebars.

  6. Scan through the index looking for buzz words that interest you.

  7. Read the first chapter.

  8. Flip through the book and read the first sentence of each paragraph. In a well written and edited book, the most important sentence containing the topic is usually the first sentence of the paragraph — but not always.

  9. Read the last chapter. If there is an executive summary, read it.

  10. Read any other information on the cover or dust jacket.

If a book can capture your attention after doing the above tasks, then by all means dive right in!

Another reading guide: if a book doesn't capture your attention after a few attempts, stop reading and pick out another one - there are always more waiting for you.

In no particular order, here's my personal Top 10 list of books published in 2009:

  • How the Mighty Have Fallen, Jim Collins

  • Organic Leadership, Neil Cole

  • The 100 Best Business Books of All Time, Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten

  • Strategic Disciple Making, Aubrey Malphurs

  • Real Leaders Don't Do PowerPoint, Christopher Witt

  • Trust Agents, Chris Brogan

  • Word of Mouth Marketing, Andy Sernovitz

  • Start with Why, Simon Sinek

  • Rules of Thumb, Alan Webber

  • Leaders Make The Future, Bob Johansen

As soon as I write the list, I'm not satisfied with it. There are many more candidates that had an impact on me, and literally dozens of books on my "To Read" list I keep in my journal.

A special mention to a visually stunning and intellectually stimulating book: "The Elements", by Theodore Gray.

Reading it - no, gazing at the beautiful pictures of all the known elements - almost makes me want to take Chemistry II!

2010 starts tomorrow - what will you be reading?


Unknown said...

Thanks for the year-end mention of The 100 Best.

And Happy New Year!

Alan Webber said...

I agree with my friend and colleague Mr. Sattersten--his book is worthy of mention, and I'm honored and delighted to be on the list with him! Many thanks, and here's to more great reads in 2010.