I like to digest books, as they are an easy way to learn from the experiences of others, and thus improve yourself.
Focus on the Value
However, there are some problems with books that you can’t help but notice when you are reading some kind of informative or advising literature. Many books contain A LOT of bullshit. If you want to benefit fully from the books you read you have to learn to not get stuck on the various bad things in a book, but instead focus on the sections that provide some kind of value.
My goal when reading books is to extract some kind of valuable information. This means that I may consider a book, that contains 99% bullshit and 1% valuable information, to be worth my time. Of course, it’s always preferable to have a as high percentage valuable information as possible, but all books contains some amount of bullshit.
A common example of this is typical american self help books, which usually contains sections where the author wants to proclaim to the world how good of a christian he or she is. This is utterly useless and often misleading advice to most readers, but it doesn’t invalidate the rest of the book.
Just because the author is X doesn’t mean that all things the author do are worthless or that he or she is just a bad person. As humans, we really want to put people into our defined boxes. Be aware of this and resist the urge as much as possible. The world is more complicated than that and you can’t just divide people into categories of good and bad. Even people that seem controversial and very bad may have something to say that is worth listening to. The same is true the other way around.
It is very important that you have your bullshit detector on high alert when you are reading books that aren’t fiction. Don’t just believe stuff. Think about the claims made, research about it if necessary, and be aware of the point of view of the author and their potential reasons to write the things they write.
So when I have completed a book with my bullshit detector on high alert, I usually end up with a few pieces of valuable new information that I try to write down. Sometimes, that results as a book review here and sometimes not.
I mostly write these posts for my own benefit. As humans, we forget a lot, so I want to capture my thoughts on a book while they are still hanging around inside my head.
Teaching a subject should be one of the best ways to learn, and I like how these posts force me to structure my thoughts into a way that is comprehensible to other humans. Hopefully, this will also help me to remember more of the books. On top of this, when I eventually forget things, I will have a nice archive of the key points for each of the books, so I don’t have to re-read any book as often.
Many of the so-called “book reviews” I write are more summaries than reflections on the book itself. I write this because I want to have all the valuable key points of the books extracted into one concentrated place. Hopefully this will reduce the number of books I have to re-read as these posts should be enough to remind me of the important points in each book. This is, of course, more suitable for books that contain a lot of filler text and just a few valuable points. I obviously can’t rehash all valuable concepts explored in books like Clean Code, which contains countless wisdoms. For books like that, a more overarching description will have to do.
Should this information help others, that’s a plus, but the main reasons for the posts are purely selfish. If I have done a good enough job, I can just read these scrambled sentences or posts to remind me of all the value the book provided, without having to sieve through the hordes of bullshit.