Reading wide and reading deep


I just logged into my Kindle account and found I have just under 7000 books.

I’ll never read most of them.

In fact, all my life I’ve purchased books I never read. I’m okay with that because I read as much as I can and I like having lots of options I can turn to.

Nearly every successful professional is a prolific reader. They read in their field and outside their field. They read books written by and about their colleagues, business leaders and a wide variety of subject matter experts.

They read broadly–to gain insights and ideas, to learn from the mistakes of others, to learn things they never knew and to think about things they’ve always known in different ways.

And when they find a superlative, transformative book, they read it more than once.

On a first reading, they might highlight or underline passages, make notes in the margins or elsewhere, so they can not only process the material at a deeper level, they will have a guide to that material when they return to read it again.

They reread books because each time they do that they pick up new ideas, insights and nuances they didn’t previously see or appreciate. And they reread books because each time they do, they bring to the material a different context. They’ve read other books that support or contrast the ideas in the first one. They’ve implemented the ideas and seen how they worked. They’ve allowed the passage of time to contemplate what they’ve learned. And thus, when they read the book again, they get more out of it.

If you asked them, they might say, “It’s better to read ten good books ten times than to read 100 books once.” And I agree.

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