Found in 7 comments on Hacker News
mikece · 2020-01-21 · Original thread
A much shorter answer: yes, it's possible. Before getting into a serious self-study of literature I highly recommend reading and studying this book first:
guidoism · 2019-08-31 · Original thread
Great question! In my fourth decade of life I’m finally figuring out the optimal way to do this myself. I’ve forgotten so so many books over the years that I supposedly read.

Read How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer Adler. ( I’ve given this book to a bunch of people on my teams as it also helps with communicating ideas which is vital as a programmer.

The wikipedia page for it is a good place to get an overview of what it’s about.

Since reading it I’ve been keeping a notebook, some people might call it a Commonplace Book, with interesting stuff from the book. I find that I get a lot more from books from the act of writing it down and then reading those notes later when I glance at them while looking something else up in the notebook.

One big big big thing I learned from the book is to not read a non-fiction book like it was a novel. There’s nothing wrong with skipping ahead and finding out what happens later, in fact you should absolutely skim the book first. I end up finishing a lot more books by doing this since so many books aren’t actually worth careful reading. I am able to systematically skim a book including the TOC and index and determine if it’s worth reading carefully. A lot of books are so sparse with ideas that you can get most of them through this method. Only the good books are worth going on to the second and third stages and only the great ones the fourth stage.

temo4ka · 2019-08-24 · Original thread
Consider pre-reading it first. If a book is hard, if it’s over you head, try going through the whole book w/o stopping on things you don’t understand (don’t fixate). In this way you’ll grasp the major points, ideas and themes. Only then read it carefully — you’ll understand better and get more out of the book.

It’s similar to progressive JPEG rendering. Your first pass is pre-processing resulting in fuzzy understanding of the whole that you then refine in the subsequent pass(es). Progressive way is more natural and effective.

I highly recommend reading Adler’s “How to Read a Book” [1]. This exactly the guide you want to read if you want to know how to learn well from books.


If anyone is interested in a deep dive on this topic, I highly recommend 'How to Read Book' by Adler and Doren. It is a fantastic how to on learning and understanding new ideas.

mikece · 2018-06-05 · Original thread
The timeless classic "How to Read a Book" applies as well to programmers as it does to anyone else.
cocacola1 · 2018-04-04 · Original thread

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