Books are incredible for so many reasons. You can have the knowledge of the world’s experts at your fingertips. You don’t have to sit through seven years of PhD classes or learn lessons the hard way if you make use of good books.

A good book is like a portable mentor that has a lifetime cost of (usually) less than $20. It’s one of the best deals on the planet!

My idea of good time: spending long uninterrupted hours in my local bookstore, browsing all the shelves looking for goodies. (Sometime they just jump out at me!)

I have two categories of books I read:

  1. Those I read for pleasure
  2. And those that are “good for me”

For the rest of this post I’ll primarily be talking about books that fall into the “good for you” category. Mostly books related to self-improvement or business (which are my two loves in books.)

Many folks do read great books, but often fail to get anything substantial from them. Your knowledge increases, but your life stays the same. It’s not enough to passively read a book. There’s a lot more to the process.

Consider these ideas to get the most from reading books:

1. Choose an appropriate topic. To get the most from a book, it’s important to choose a subject that will help you in some way. Where do you need the most help in your life? Is it something general like confidence or self-esteem, or a specific skill like public speaking or networking?

2. Take the time to find a great book on your subject. Most online booksellers include reviews. Let these be a guide. You can also find most of the currently popular books in your local library. You can download samples of Kindle books at Amazon, or check out the “Look Inside” feature for paperback and hardbound books, although these often don’t show you enough to make a comfortable buying decision. Just keep in mind that almost all books purchased at Amazon are returnable. (I’m not sure about other sellers.) Check out the return policy, as it is different for each titile, before you buy.

3. Read the entire book. Avoid skipping chapters or pages that bore you. Read the entire book, including the foreword and introduction. Writing is a hassle, so the author is (usually) only going to write things that they believe are relevant.

4. Take notes. Avoid relying on your memory to capture the most relevant points in the book. Write down those nuggets of wisdom, so you’ll have them available in the future. You’ll also have them all in one place. Here is a great blog post about how to take notes while reading a book.

5. Ask yourself how you can apply this information to your life. Include the answer in your notes.

6. Review each chapter. Once you complete a chapter, review what you’ve learned. Spend some time thinking about it. You might spend an entire day thinking about it on and off. Consider that each chapter may reveal valuable information that can change your life or business for the better. Find that piece of information.

7. Make a plan to apply the information. It’s not enough to know something. You have to apply it to get any benefit from it. Set up a plan for utilizing the information. What habits could you create? What are some things you need to do or stop doing?

8. Re-read the book. Many success gurus brag about reading a new book each day. This is a mistake. You’re far better off reading fewer books multiple times each year and deeply understanding the information. How can you read a book each day and apply the information to your life? You probably can’t. Aim for one book a week if you can.

9. Read other books on the same topic. One book gives you information. Five books on the same topic gives you understanding. Become an expert on your topic of choice. As you’re applying the information from one book, deepen your understanding with a similar book. Take your time and be thorough.

How much benefit have you really gotten from the books you’ve read? Odds are that you could be doing a lot better!

Books can save us so much time versus trying to figure things out on our own. They are a way to rapidly boost your life and your business, but it’s important to read actively and then to apply the information.

Information that isn’t acted upon has little value. Let your reading time be a catalyst to a bright future that you can look forward to!