How to read a book? – this could have been the title. However since normally this question is asked by my MBA students, I decided to say “What an MBA student should know..” Read on:

I have been asked this question many times, so I thought it nice to put down the answer in a public place that everybody can read. This is for all students – which means every person who needs to read! Here are somethings that work for me:

I never read a book from start to end. That used to happen when I used to read novels. Novels I gave up long ago – so reading a book cover to cover was also lost, long ago. I have read Trinity, Armagedon, ..and other Leon Uris books in 2 days time!

If you are searching for something or to find some answer, reading a book is good, there might be more answers on Google. However some nice thoughts are still available in books.

If you are searching collect info from all sources and make notes if you need to use it later. Check out how you are planning to use it in your life.

Set a target – THE end date to reading a book. If you are reading 3-4 books at a time there is a greater reason for setting end dates.

I re-read books almost like a habit. Books like Black Swan, Random Walk down Wall street, fact most of the books that I have mentioned in my ‘books and book review’ column all are read, re-read and re-re-read!

Do not judge a book by the author’s life. Many authors have led ordinary lives -and many have messed up lives. If there is a learning from a book, take it. Like they say…do not judge a book by its cover!!

Try to understand the intellectual content of the book not just the real life context of the author or the hero.

Leave time to process the material. If you like making notes, make it. Some people find it useful, some find it a hindrance. If you cannot make notes, try writing down what you think you learnt at a later time.

I know of one student who even creates a goal sheet for each book – when will I start, when will I finish, what I expect to learn from this book, how many pages will I read in a day,….No way how I can do it, but it is an interesting concept.

Take breaks – rarely can I read for more than 45 minutes at a stretch. However books like Freakonomics, Super…., are all books which I did in 1 or 2 sittings. See what style suits you and choose accordingly.

This is not complete – it is what suits me…I read early in the morning, in airport lounges, aircrafts, while waiting for a case to be called in a court, train, …..and of course at home. However in office more time is spent on reading something on the net. Rarely do I read boooks at the office…..

so go and make your choice…

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  1. Dear Mr. Subramaniam,

    That was an interesting blog, but i still can’t get over my habit of reading a book from cover to cover. Another thing that i would like to add is Carry a book with you always so that we don’t waste time while waiting. I liked the idea of jotting down the goals etc., i shall try it sometime. About re- reading, i have not been able to do till date as my “to read” list just keeps increasing.

    Letme take this opportunity to tell you that i have just finished your book “Retire Rich…” It is a very concise book on all the investment related stuff, a very good book for beginners or amateurs in the field of investing. I liked it very much, has also motivated me to do my bit to make my retirement easy. That is one book which i have started to re-read.. this time slowly and with notes as to what i can do not do etc…

    Thank you very much for bringing out the book

    Another thing is that i am a daily reader of your blog, but i don’t write a comment b’cos i am still in the assimilation phase.


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  3. thanks mam i read your blog. it is good and i will thnik about when i will buy any new book to read……kamlesh

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