Many people talk about how reading books can expand your knowledge and improve your life. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Reading books is indeed good. But there is one aspect of it that many people tend to forget: the value of rereading books.
I believe that not only should you read books you’ve never read, but also you should reread books you’ve already read. In fact, I’d argue that rereading books is just as important as reading new ones.
Why You Should Reread Books
Here are some reasons why rereading books is good:
1. It reminds you of the good ideas
Research shows that in just 24 hours people would forget most of what they’ve read. You might get a lot of good ideas from a book, but it’s easy to forget most of them. Rereading a book helps you refresh those ideas in your mind.
2. It helps you notice the ideas you didn’t notice before
Just as it’s easy to forget ideas, it’s also easy to have some ideas skip your attention when you first read a book. Rereading the book helps you notice them.
3. It gives you a new perspective
Rereading a book allows you to see it with fresh eyes. The ideas that didn’t make sense before could now make sense. The things that didn’t matter before could now be connected to your experience.
4. It helps you apply the ideas
This, in my opinion, is the most important reason of all. Why? Because the primary value of reading is the application and not the reading itself. Mere reading could expand your knowledge but application could change your life. By rereading a book, you can see which parts of it you have applied and which parts haven’t. You can then focus your effort on the parts that need more work.
How to Reread Books
Now that you’ve seen the why, let’s see the how. Here are some tips on rereading books:
1. Choose the right books
Just as not all books are worth reading, so are not all books worth rereading. Don’t just reread any book. Read only those that can give you the most value for your time. One good way to filter them is by finding those that you want to apply. The more you want to apply a book, the more important it is to reread.
2. Read only the important parts
You don’t need to reread the entire book. That will take too much time. Besides, you might get lost in the details. Instead, apply the 80-20 rule and read only the important parts of the book. This is one reason why you should highlight the good parts of a book when you first read it. By doing so, you can read just those parts when you reread it.
3. Look for actionable ideas
Since the primary value of reading is the application, you should look for actionable ideas when you reread a book. Perhaps you didn’t recognize some of them when you first read it. Or perhaps you already forget some of them. In either case, look for ideas that you can use to improve your life.
4. Focus your effort
Since there are potentially many actionable ideas, you should focus your effort on those that can make the most difference. Don’t try to do too much and spread yourself too thin. Instead, apply the 80-20 rule and focus on the important ones. Later, when you’ve successfully applied them, you can work on the other ideas.
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