When reading a large document or textbook, instead of reading it front-to-back, read it like an onion.
Layer 1: What is this book about?
- Read front and back of book
- Read chapter titles
- Get a good idea of what the main message is
- Skim the first paragraphs of chapters if needed
- Figure out what it is you want to learn
Layer 2: How is the text structured?
- Start with the chapters that you have the most interest in
- Skim the first and last paragraphs in the chapter, to figure out what each chapter is about
- Figure out if you need to know anything in that chapter
Layer 3: Skim chapters for the information you need
- Scan interesting chapters.
- Focus on headings and first sentences of paragraphs.
- Skip anything you know, or isn’t related to what you want to learn.
- Figure out what you need to know from the text.
Layer 4: Fill in the gaps
- Re-read Table of Contents
- Repeat Layer 2/3 as needed to learn what you want
Layer 5: Actual read
- Typically not necessary.