Roman Malanke

Effective Reading Framework

This year I am on track to read 2 books per month, 24 in total. It is way more compared to 10 books per year — my average result since I started keeping my reading log in 2006. Such an increase could be attributed to the desire to accelerate my personal growth, as I get older. That is certainly true, but what has really enabled me to read more is the effective approach to reading I worked out over time.

I’ve decided to call it the Effective Reading Framework (not hard to guess that work in software industry has inspired the name, huh?). Thanks to this method I don’t feel like I dedicate any additional time to reading, yet I read so much more.

The framework is based on three simple ideas: 1) recognizing that there are several basic kinds of reading such as professional reading, reading for pleasure, etc.; 2) effectively combining different means of reading such as paper, e-books, and audiobooks; 3) optimizing the medium and the timing of reading based on the context within a typical day or week. Let me explain all three in more detail.

I define reading in a wide sense as the process of consuming valuable information. Depending on the type of information and the value we get from it we can distinguish several kinds of reading: 1) reading non-fiction for personal development; 2) reading non-fiction for professional development; 3) reading fiction for pleasure and exercising imagination; 4) reading periodicals to stay updated on news in business and world; 5) reading textbooks and course materials to learn new skills such as language learning.

With the definition given above, reading doesn’t have to be limited to books. All of the following are mediums of reading: 1) traditional paperbacks and hardcovers; 2) e-books on a computer or mobile; 3) audiobooks in headphones or loudspeakers; 4) podcasts; 5) radio news program streamed over the Internet. I use all of above to read at every good opportunity at home, at work, and on the go.

Now that we’ve defined types and means of reading let’s see how I combine and employ them during my usual days to achieve the most efficiency and effectiveness.

1. Reading of non-fiction for personal development:

  • Preferred means: audiobooks.
  • Preferred timing: early mornings every day.
  • Preferred context: running, exercising.

2. Reading of non-fiction for professional development:

  • Preferred means: e-books.
  • Preferred timing: midday on weekdays.
  • Preferred context: dedicated professional reading timeslot at work calendar.

3. Reading fiction for pleasure and exercising imagination:

  • Preferred means: paper books.
  • Preferred timing: late evenings every day.
  • Preferred context: right before going to bed.

4. Reading periodicals to stay updated on news in business and world:

  • Preferred means: podcasts, radio.
  • Preferred timing: mornings of weekdays.
  • Preferred context: breakfast at home, commute, morning coffee at work.

5. Reading textbooks and course materials to learn new skills such as language learning:

  • Preferred means: audiobooks, e-books.
  • Preferred timing: weekends.
  • Preferred context: home chores and leisure time.

This is a short overview of how my system works today. Although I’m pretty happy with it now, I will keep the evolution going by consciously thinking about how I can read even more effectively. After all, reading is probably the most effective tool for “sharpening our saw” in Stephen Covey’s words. As another smart man put it: “We are the same today as we’ll be in five years except for two things: the books we read and the people we meet.” For myself, I know for sure that reading is going to be forever an integral part of my life, in the same league with good sleep, healthy nutrition, physical exercise, good posture and a smile.