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Are you sure you can read properly?

Aljomain Sterling won the UFC Bantamweight title in the worst possible way.

Yes, winning is winning.

But some wins are not honourable. Now, I'm not saying that Aljomain cheated. In fact, he followed all the rules perfectly.

It's that his opponent momentarily forgot about the rules. So Aljomain won his championship via the disqualification of his opponent.

Let me explain.

On March 6, 2021, Aljomain fought the Bantamweight champion, Petr Yan. And if I have to be honest, Aljomain was getting his butt whooped the whole time.

It looked like a surefire win for Petr.

But one minute from the end of round four, the direction of the fight would change drastically.

At this time in the round, Aljomain was on one knee, facing a standing Petr. Where both men were hand-fighting with each other. Then out of the blue, Petr knees Aljomain's head.

Which is an illegal move in MMA: kneeing a downed opponent.

Aljomain was concussed and could not fight. Thus disqualifying Petr and making Aljomain the new champion.

The MMA world was in shock.

They couldn't believe how Petr could make such a costly blunder.

Most people's greatest blunder is not learning to read correctly.

A lot of you will take offence to this.

And you should. I'm calling you out on a skill you think you have down pat.

But here's a reality check.

Reading is a skill, and there are levels to it. I realized I was not a great reader if it makes you feel better.

Mind you, I've read hundreds of books. But I realized my reading skills were mediocre after reading How To Read A Book (HTRAB).

This book showed me that reading is a skill that can be deepened. And just because we are not illiterate doesn't mean we are experts either.

The way to look at all this is like listening.

We can listen; all we have to do is let our ears work. But as many of you have experienced, your ears will be listening, but you will be daydreaming. And then you have no idea what was just said. Good listeners are noticeable as they can summarize what was said and ask engaging questions.

Even though we all can listen, we know there are good and bad listeners. And the same applies to reading.

Now, hopefully, you are willing to continue reading this article. As I want to show you the value of How to Read A Book.

First off

This is a practical book. One that shows you reading as a skill and how to further deepen it. But before we get ahead, let me show you the reading levels.

The book shows us three levels of reading:

  • Elementary

  • Inspectional

  • Analytical

Elementary reading is obvious; it's the basic reading skill you learn in school. So there isn't much to discuss here.

Unlike Inspectional reading.

There is a little more to it. Let's think of this as skimming, more specifically, systematic skimming.

So with this reading level, you want to learn everything from a book based only on what is on the surface in as little time as possible.

Now what do I mean by surface?

Well, I mean the title, preface, table of contents, index, publisher blurb, summary statements for essential chapters, and light but random reading of some paragraphs.

I will leave it up to you to read HTRAB to understand the nuances. But systematically skimming will give you a good idea of the book, where you will know what type of book it is and what it's about.

I tried this for the first time and can tell you I have a different feeling going into a book now. I've been primed to read it and will get more out of it.

But that's just scratching the surface, though.

Because you will get so much more out of reading a book when you do it analytically.

This is the most demanding type of reading.

But also the best. You will ask many organized questions about the book at this reading level. Think of it as chewing and digesting a book to its utmost. Where you walk away having a deeper understanding of the book.

So much so that you will be able to communicate the book effectively. Whether it's the author's arguments, ideas, or summary of the work. You will come away with your mind enriched.

Now I don't want to give you the rules for how this type of reading is done. But I encourage you to go out and read HTRAB for yourself.

However, you probably have this question in mind.

Why systematically skim?

This seems like unnecessary work.

Why not just dive into reading a book?

One reason is that it allows you to judge whether a book is worth reading. Our time is finite, and we can't read all the books we want. So we need a practical task for deciding if a book is worth it. And systematically skimming will give you the answer to whether you want to read a book or not.

But even for books you do want to read, systematically skimming will give you an idea of the form and structure of the book.

Or, in other words, it primes you to read it.

And to be honest, once you get the hang of it, systematically skimming won't take long. Now another question you might have in mind

Why analytically read?

And this one, I can see some pushback. You have other things on your plate, and why put all this effort into reading a book?

The best way to look at this is like having a deep conversation with the author. When you analytically read, you are engaged in a thought-provoking dialogue that expands your mind. So whenever you choose to read analytically, you know you will squeeze every value from it.

Compared to elementary reading, where you can just read something, and it doesn't leave you any better.

I will admit that this is a lot of effort.

Skimming plus analytical reading. You might as well quit your job to read full-time.

But let me rein in my Drama Queen antics.

This effort for reading is only for books worth reading this way. You cannot do this with everything you read. However, you must be more judicious in choosing books requiring this effort.

For example, The Art of War is worth systematically skimming and reading analytically. But a book on getting rich quickly is probably only worth a systematic skim.

Over time you will see which books are worth an analytical read, like my close friend Jordan.

Jordan's reading journey

Jordan is the one who recommended this HTRAB to me. And at first, I was annoyed with the suggestion. However, I warmed up to it and fell in love with it after the first chapter.

After my honeymoon phase with the book, I asked Jordan how he found this book. He told me that someone in his pastor group would read the same books as him but would get so much more out of them than him. And it boggled him, so he asked the person how to get more out of his reading. The man mentioned HTRAB, and Jordan immediately got it.

Jordan quickly realized he found a gem.

After reading the book, he applied his high-level reading skills to his schoolwork. And it paid off in ways he didn't expect.

For example, Jordan had to read a 600-page book and write a 10-page paper in a single weekend. He only applied systematic skimming, got the main ideas, and wrote his paper.

Also, Jordan found himself doing a second degree in software engineering. And he could skip most of his classes and just read the textbooks (I don't recommend following this strategy) using systemic skimming and analytical reading. Because he was able to get a lot out of reading the textbooks while teaching himself what was needed.

This might seem all dandy, but before you jump on this, please be wary of this mistake.

Sometimes our enthusiasm is high initially.

And we are eager to read correctly. However, we don't have the patience to learn the skill and then give up the process of acquiring it.

To avoid this mistake, understand that this is a new skill you are developing and will take time. The best approach is to religiously return to HTRAB while reading a worthy book. You can easily reference the steps and anything else that might be confusing. Over time, you will naturally get the hang of it and won't need HTRAB around as much.

But until then, be diligent with this.

And because I'm in a giving mood, here is an aphorism from Gracian that pertains to avoiding this mistake.

'Carry things through. Some people put everything into the beginning and finish nothing. They come up with something but never press on with it, revealing their fickle character. They never receive any praise because they don't press on with anything; everything ends with nothing being ended. In others, this arises out of impatience, a characteristic vice of the Spanish, just as patience is a virtue of the Belgians.The latter finish things, and the former finish with them. They sweat until a difficulty is overcome and are happy simply to conquer it, but they don't know how to carry their victory through; they show they have the ability but not the desire. This is always a defect arising from taking on the impossible or from fickleness. If an undertaking is good, why not finish it? And if it's bad, why was it started? The shrewd should kill their prey, not give up after flushing it out.'

And before you flush this article, let's get to the summary.


  • Reading is a skill that can be deepened.

  • There are three levels to reading: Elementary, Inspectional, and Analytically.

  • Elementary reading is the basic reading skill most literate people have.

  • Inspectional reading is systematically skimming to get a general idea of the book. This is done to see whether a book is worth reading. Or to prime you to read it.

  • Analytically reading is asking questions about the book, furthering your understanding of its ideas.

  • Although this is a lot of effort for reading, we can only apply this effort to worthy books.

  • Inspectional and Analytical reading is a new skill we need to be patient in developing.

Who knew reading could be a great skill?

Where there are different levels and rules to it. I admit I'm embarrassed that I didn't take HTRAB seriously sooner. I could have gotten more from books and created valuable content much earlier.

Oh well.

At least I know the reading rules better than what Petr Yan does in MMA.

Until next time,


The Charismatic Nerd

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