The year was 2016. I picked up my first book—Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. It was one of the most-recommended self-help books I found on the internet.
Back then, reading books did not seem like fun to me. I had more important things to do in life—working at the office, studying for college tests, hanging out with my friends, and playing the guitar.
When I read Think and Grow Rich for the first time, I did not understand much of it. I read the book just for the sake of reading it.
After that, I bought a few more books, and the same thing happened. I only understood about 10-20 per cent of the books I read. But I would soon forget that as well.
My reading improved with time. I was consistent with my reading habit. I understood that consistency was necessary.
If you are consistent at doing something, you will excel at it.
As I was consistent with my reading habit, I learned more techniques to improve my reading.
Besides that, the one thing that helped me learn better from a book was: reading it multiple times.
Why Read It More Than Once?
I have read Think and Grow Rich five times now. Every time I read it, I understand more of it. The things that I did not understand previously became clearer to me.
I have read almost every book that I like more than once. For some books, I go back and re-read a few chapters that are worth reading more than once.
Reading a book more than once has a lot of benefits. The obvious one is that you understand it better. Suppose you understand 20 per cent of a book in your first read. If you read it again, you will understand maybe 40 per cent of it. In the third time, you might understand 100 per cent of it.
You have a chance to grasp the things you might have missed previously. It means that you will have a fresh perspective if you re-read a book. It might be a little unrealistic to understand 100 per cent of a book in the first read. But it is not impossible.
Every time I re-read a book, I find something new in the book. In the first read, I understand the general idea of the book. But there are always important little details that I will have missed.
It’s Not The Same. There’s More.
I have found that with every read, there is something different in a book. In a few books, I have even found that some things were the opposite of how I had interpreted them the first time.
Think and Grow Rich is a book about getting rich. The author talks about the thirteen principles which lead to riches. These include desire, persistence, faith, auto-suggestion, planning, imagination, subconscious mind, and more. These principles allow any person to accumulate the desired wealth.
For me, this book is not just about getting rich. It is about getting anything you want in life, whether it is money, good health, better relationships, or a better career. The thirteen principles described in this book apply to all these aspects of life. I had to read the book three times to understand this.
Leave It For Later
Ever since I have understood the importance of reading a book multiple times, I have developed this new reading habit:
The first time I read a book, I go through it quickly. I do not try to understand everything in the first read. Why? Firstly, I want to understand what the book is about. So I go through it thoroughly and try to understand the basic idea of the book.
Secondly, I will know whether this book is worth reading again. In the first read, I understand at least 50 per cent of the book. It means that I will be able to interpret the basic idea of the book. This allows me to decide whether I should re-read it later. If the book is good, I re-read it in a few weeks. If it is not, I try to remember the few important things and then not go back to it ever again.
Finally, I can re-read the book for the second time. This time, I try to understand every detail in the book. I go deeper into it and take notes if necessary. This way, I will be able to understand better. I use a highlighter pen to mark the important things I find. I make little notes on the side of the book. If the book is excellent, I will read it again for the third, fourth, and fifth time.
With my new technique, I am not only able to understand books better but also able to read many books. It is a plus point in terms of quality and quantity. I read every new book at least twice with this technique. But if the book is horrible, I don’t even finish it the first time. Remember, you do not have to finish all the books you read.
To get full insight from a book, you have to read it multiple times. Every good book is worth going back to. The more you read it, the more you will understand it. Repetition is the way to perfection.