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#61: Choosing Books

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Once you’ve flooded your desk with inputs comes the filter. It should be ruthless, taking no prisoners and offering no mercy. Similar to dating, a book you’re not into after 10 minutes of attention has little chance of a happy ending. Slam it shut and move on. You’re not a failure if you quit a book after three pages anymore than if you reject the proposition of a 10-hour date with someone you just met who annoys you. Lots of fish in the sea. - How to Read: Lots of Inputs and a Strong Filter

Time is limited. So I always thought about how to improve my decision making on which books to read. Right now it’s just:

  • topics I’m interested in
  • books which are mentioned in books I already read and liked
  • recommendations by friends
  • recommendations by people I admire e.g. Elon Musk or Bill Gates

and then I pick a book kind of spontaneously to start reading it from my reading list.

When I check the last years, I’ve read on average 25 books per year. That means if I should live until around 90 I have time to read 1500 books. That’s almost nothing if you consider that there are almost 130 million books out there (probably more now since this article is from 2010). So it’s time to experiment using filters and other rules to choose the next books to read and also to accept not reading a book all through the end if I just don’t like it. I used these three sources for my filters and rules How to Read: Lots of Inputs and a Strong Filter, A Guide to Choosing Which Books to Read and 3 Rules for Choosing Nonfiction Books. Also I used things from my own experiences. And here they are:

  1. If the book is a recommendation by a friend, skip to point 4
  2. Accept ratings of 4.0 and up on Goodreads and Amazon. It should have at least 100 ratings. If the point is valid go to the next point
  3. Research about Reviews. Two or Three reviews from each star on Amazon and Goodreads. That means 20 to 30 Reviews. If I loose interest I won’t read it, if interest is still there I continue with the next point
  4. Research through articles about the book and author. If there are TED Talks available from the author watch it. This should take 10-20 minutes. If I loose interest I won’t read it, if interest is still there I continue with the next point
  5. Get the free sample of the ebook version via Amazon and download it to your kindle. If I don’t like what I read after around 10 minutes, I won’t continue reading it. If it’s still interesting to me, buy it
  6. If there are chapters which are just not interesting to me skip them e.g. chapters about parenting
  7. If the book ends up draining me then give myself permission to quit even if I’m half way through it

These filters and rules might change but I think it’s a good starting point. Will write about my experience in another post.