How to make Self Help and Non-Fiction Books Work for you


I’ve read over 100 Non-Fiction books since the beginning of 2014, not including the academic books during my MBA and the content I go through Online.

I’ve read about topics ranging from Philosophy to business, Humanities to Science, Politics to Self Help. I’ve read Paper Books, Kindle books, Audio books, Fancy Books with diagrams. The reason I read Non-Fiction more is because I like making notes of the key findings of the books and looking for things which I can implement in my own life. Here are 5 of the key things I learnt after reading so many Non-fiction Books and how I have used them to make a positive impact in my life.

Listen to people who have actually read the Books before buying them

Listening here means physically listening, reading and watching book reviews online before buying or borrowing the book. Your time is precious. Don’t waste it on reading a book which many have found to lack in content or value. When asking people about a book, ask them if the content was relevant and if it has added value in their personal and professional life. Their experience will help you select the right books and 

Context and timing are Important

I remember reading the book “Good to Great" when I was very young. Although the book is very good, I could not relate to the concepts very well and there was no scope for me to apply the key takeaways as well. I have some golden rules which I use in Selecting books to read.Firstly, try and pick books which you can understand. Taking philosophy or politics books might not be the right choice when you are young as you will not be able to relate to it well. Secondly it is very important to read books whose concepts are relevant to your present environment and which have room for application in your life.For example, when you just start your career, reading leadership books might not suit the context as you would most likely have no leadership authority to apply those concepts in your life. But the question is how can you judge the relevancy and application of the book? Well, there are two solutions. First you can go to the previous point and listen and ask the people who have already read it. Ask them if you should read it and then use your own judgment to read it.Secondly, refer the next point.

Reading to solve specific problems or finding answers

Recently I was working on a project on Mentoring. And in order to find solutions to the some of the problems I was facing, I decided to read some books on Mentoring and started searching and reading reviews on the internet. I was looking for solutions to specific problems, so it helped me narrow down my search for specific books which helped me in solving my problem. So I suggest have some questions you want answer of or some problems you want to solve. The search for relevant books becomes much easier then . But just reading might not help in solving your problems, which brings me to my next point

Maintain a Journal of all the key take-ways

There are few reasons why you should keep a journal of your key learnings from the books you read. Firstly, not everything you read in a book might be relevant to you or help you solve your problem. No matter how good the book is, there will only be handful concepts that you can apply in your life and the journal will help track of your learning. Secondly you can always refer back to the journal if just have to revisit the key concepts instead of rummaging the entire book. You can also try and apply the concepts in your life and tick and cross in the journal based on whether the concepts helped you in your goals or not. And no, you don’t have to write everything down in a diary always. We have powerful productivity apps such as Evernote which allows you to enter text, take pictures of key content and add your audio observation files if required. 

Recommend and Summarize it to others

Once you have read a book and tried to implement the key takeaways in your life, it is time for you to give back to the community what you got from it. Recommend the good books to your colleagues, and summarize it if required when they ask for it. One other benefit of summarizing is that it helps in revision and retention of the key points in the book. Also if you feel that you do not remember much about the book while summarizing, you can always go back and revisit your journal if it is worth revisiting.

About the author

Arunabha Aich

Fitness Evangelist | Non Fiction | Quizzer | Cooking Enthusiast

Dancing for life | Anime Lover | Gokuist | Travel & Explore | XLRI 

Currently works with RIL, India



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