Dave Braun: My 3 tips on How to choose books to read
There are so many books out there to help you in your business and life. Which leads to an important question: How to choose books to read, given limited time and mental energy?
According to one of the most recent Bowker Reports, more than 700,000 books were self-published in the U.S. in 2015! That amounts to almost 2000 books per day, and that’s just in the U.S.! And that will
continue to grow as the tools to create, edit, self-publish and distribute your books are getting easier and less expensive. You’ve probably noticed that there are training programs everywhere, as well as conferences and freelancers that also make it easier.
So how the heck do you decide which books to read for your self-improvement, education, entertainment, and business?
If you’re like me (a mostly positive person), you realize there are pearls of wisdom everywhere, and that you can learn from just about any book.
Unfortunately, we only have so many hours in the day to read and learn and even listen. And with everything we have going on, with all of our other commitments in life, it’s not 24 hours; it’s probably, at BEST, an hour a day. So, we’ve got to maximize that time, fully leverage it, and waste as little of it as possible.
Remember this: time is THE most precious resource we have, mainly because we can’t generate any more of it (we can leverage it and/or improve our use of it, but that’s another article). We can generate more money, physical energy, improve our focus, etc. But we can’t generate more time.
My 3 tips on how to choose books to read
1. Choose a book that your Mentor/Coach/Boss (someone you’ve placed in authority or someone you follow closely) recommends.
Now this can be someone who is just one step ahead of you. As Larry Broughton often says, “4th graders look like gods to 1st graders!” Or it could be a group of people with whom you share the same goals.
Assuming you’re in some type of a mastermind (https://yoogozi.com/mastermind/), at some point during your sessions you’ll typically have people recommend books or blogs or podcasts to subscribe to.
This picture to the left is a screenshot of a channel in Slack that’s available as part of the Advance Coaching mastermind set up by one of my mentors, Nathan Ingram. Notice “good-reads” there.
One or more of these people should be familiar enough with you in your life that they will guide you on what book to read for improving the skill you most need to improve on, or the attitude you need to have corrected, or something that is a potential sticking point or obstacle in your life. And that’s where an accountability partner or coach comes in. They can shortcut the selection process for you.
And if you’re in a mastermind with others, there might be some books more than one person has read. When someone mentions a book that has impacted them greatly, it might be one you want to read. But if one or two other people in the group say something like “I agree, that book changed me,” bingo! That book will likely be good for you too.
2. Follow-on book by a favorite author
If you like one of their books, or you got a lot out of it, chances are the same thing will happen with the next book, unless it’s totally different, such as a fiction book. However, if you look at the title or read the jacket cover or look at it online briefly and don’t see good reviews, or you feel it is something you aren’t interested in right now, then pass.
I really enjoyed Rory Vaden’s book “Procrastinate On Purpose” so I bought his other book, “Take The Stairs.” It’s also quite good and I recommend it. Another example for me is Charles Duhigg’s book “Power Of Habit,” which I’ve read several times and have studied, producing a summary (more on that below), so I got his book “Smarter Faster Better” and I’ve read it and am currently studying. I love it almost as much!
3. A book at random, but you’ve “filtered it”
Pick a book at random but make sure you filter your selection by a method such has having a checklist at the end of each chapter or at the end of the book, it has an easy-to-digest summary, or you’ve heard the author talk about the book in an interview.
This way it can more easily become actionable for you. Because if the author has thought enough about his material to produce a summary or checklist, say at the end of every chapter, it’s probably pretty actionable and you can then use that as the basis of your OWN summary.
One example is “80/20 Sales and Marketing” by Perry Marshall. At the end of each chapter he has a summary of the main points.
I listen to the “Read to Lead” podcast and get good ideas from there. Someone talks about their book and gives some of the points, so I’m already getting a good idea if it will appeal to me or not.
Here’s an easy way to get started
Ask 5 people you know, love/like, and trust, to recommend their top three most impactful books on a subject and then choose the books that more than one of these folks recommends.
Better yet, find out from 5 people who have the results you’re looking for what books they recommend.
Combine that with what your mentor or coach says.
If there is one book in common, you’ve got a winner!
Now you have two choices in how you read your books:
- Just read quickly to absorb
- Actually study them
Choose the method you’d like, but what I’ve seen is a coach or mentor in your life (at least a good one), should be asking you for either a summary, what you learned, and/or how you can apply those aspects to your life and/or business. And, of course, help to hold you accountable.
I used to just quickly read and get what I could out of a book, but I found I wasn’t able to really apply and retain the information, so I started doing my own summaries.
The summaries/study that you do (I’ve found pre-packaged book summaries aren’t helpful to me) are important because of how our memories work. In the book “Brain Rules” by John Medina, he discusses how our memories aren’t like a video camera to where we remember everything, and everything perfectly. We need constant reminding and the summaries allow you to do just that.
One of my weekly behaviors is to spend 15-30 minutes reviewing the summary of a book I’ve done. I’ve found that I typically forget a ton of what I wrote down and when I review my own summary I find things to implement at my “new place” in life. Ideas just spring from nowhere!
My two recommended books
I have dozens of books on my bookshelves, and studied many. They all have made a difference in my life.
But if I were to recommend two books, they have to fit the criteria of allowing you to be successful in multiple areas of your life and were more strategic versus tactical. They would need to be time-insensitive, meaning they need to apply equally to today as they will in 50 years.
Of course the Bible is the best book overall and definitely fits those criteria. But let me pick a couple of different books.
- “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. Why? Because he gives the keys to establishing and breaking habits in our lives. And those habits are what make or break us, either work for us or against us – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. And, of course, are compounded over time.
- “FLASHPOINTS for achievers” by Larry Broughton. Why? Because it fits so well with my morning routine, giving me something to think about for the day, a place to write down my thoughts and feelings in order to become more self aware, and allows me, on the weekend, to look back and plan for the next week. There are many key thoughts and questions on Leadership, Team Building, Peak Potential, and proper attitude, etc. All in bite-size morsels easy to absorb for my busy schedule. It helps propel me towards excellence in ALL areas of my life.
In fact, you can get the daily FLASHPOINTS delivered to your email for free each day, and then you can also save them to Evernote to journal electronically, which is what I do. I highly recommend this. Just go to here to signup: https://yoogozi.com/daily
Additionally, I talk about how I use a review process in this link: https://yoogozi.com/using-flashpoints-for-achievers-daily-journal-to-have-your-best-year-ever-in-2015/
You can purchase the physical book here: https://store.yoogozi.com/
It’s not the number of books you read, but the number of changes you make and the actions you take as a result of reading.
Now go read, summarize, apply, and then take action!
Dave is Larry’s partner in FLASHPOINTS and yoogozi.com (type Braun in the search bar to see what else he’s written). He’s a certified John Maxwell speaker/trainer/coach, works with a marriage ministry at onefleshawakening.com, and does freelance website design, almost always in conjunction with Wordflirt.com. He previously worked in the corporate world for 30 years as a leader of diverse teams at a semiconductor company. Dave can be reached at dave[at]flashpointsdaily.com and occasionally tweets as @thedavebraun.
Think about a few of the latest books you’ve read. Can you point to something specific from one of them that you’ve implemented or used to counsel another?