The Story Graph is a GoodReads alternative with a cleaner interface and a “different” recommendation engine. Stats are nice and it is just simpler to deal with and work with than GoodReads.

Reading for information is when you passively read to gain information from the text. Reading for understanding requires mental engagement with the text to close the knowledge gap between you and the author 1. With active reading 2, you engage with material, familiarize yourself with context before beginning. One approach is the blank sheet reading method.

Four types of reading according to Mortimer Alder 1:

  1. Elementary Reading
  2. Inspectional Reading
  3. Analytical Reading
  4. Syntopical Reading

Four questions to ask of every book 1:

  1. What is this book about?
  2. What is being said in detail, and how?
  3. Is this book true in whole or in part?
  4. What of it?

The Rule of 50 3

Give a book 50 pages. When you get to the bottom of Page 50, ask yourself if you’re really liking the book. If you are, of course, then great, keep on reading. But if you’re not, then put it down and look for another. When you are 51 years of age or older, subtract your age from 100, and the resulting number (which, of course, gets smaller every year) is the number of pages you should read before you can guiltlessly give up on a book,

Books in progress is a “public drafting tool”: Drafts will be made available for comment from the public, allowing for direct collaboration between author and reader.

Reading “faster”

For Leaf Non-Fiction book and perhaps Branch Non-Fiction Book, there is a common approach for getting the main idea and a useful understanding of the book without reading word for word4:

  1. Start with the author. Who wrote the book? Read his or her bio. If you can find a brief interview or article online about the author, read that quickly. It will give you a sense of the person’s bias and perspective.
  2. Read the title, the subtitle, the front flap, and the table of contents. What’s the big-picture argument of the book? How is that argument laid out? By now, you could probably describe the main idea of the book to someone who hasn’t read it.
  3. Read the introduction and the conclusion. The author makes their case in the opening and closing argument of the book. Read these two sections word for word but quickly. You already have a general sense of where the author is going, and these sections will tell you how they plan to get there (introduction) and what they hope you got out of it (conclusion).
  4. Read/skim each chapter. Read the title and anywhere from the first few paragraphs to the first few pages of the chapter to figure out how the author is using this chapter and where it fits into the argument of the book. Then skim through the headings and subheadings (if there are any) to get a feel for the flow. Read the first sentence of each paragraph and the last. If you get the meaning, move on. Otherwise, you may want to read the whole paragraph. Once you’ve gotten an understanding of the chapter, you may be able to skim over whole pages, as the argument may be clear to you and also may repeat itself.
  5. End with the table of contents again. Once you’ve finished the book, return to the table of contents and summarize it in your head.


Parrish, S. How to Read a Book: The Ultimate Guide by Mortimer Adler. at (2014).
Parrish, S. How to Remember What You Read. at (2021).
Pearl, N. Nancy Pearl’s Rule of 50 for dropping a bad book. at (2011).
Bregman, P. How to Read a Book a Week. Harvard business review (2016).