Thinking and Reading (sometimes together)

Rachel reports on a different way to read a book based on Tony Buzan’s work.

I’ve used a similar method called Charting to read articles and books. Actually, I’m not sure “reading” is the right term, because Charting feels more interactive than normal reading. When I chart a book, I’m creating a picture of the structure and content of the book as well as actively pursuing insights for practical application.

Here’s how a quick version of Charting works:

Scan the book for clues about the structure. Lay out a preliminary picture of the structure on a piece of paper.

Read the opening paragraph of each chapter. Then read the first and last sentence of each paragraph. Read the final paragraph of the chapter.

Note 3-4 key insights or ideas in the chapter. Give the chapter a new name based on your key insights.

Once you’ve done this for all the chapters, look for common themes or shifts among the chapters. Show that on the chart, and give those theme names.

Create an image the holds the overall meaning of the book for you.

Answer these questions:

  • What happened for me in reading this material?
  • What is my response to this material?

    Write a short critique.

    I may go back and go into more depth for parts of the book that intrigue me. When I do this, I repeat the basically the same process for the chapter, looking for the structure of the chapter, noting key ideas in each section, etc.

    I also use Charting for group book studies. Each person takes a chapter or section and uses the Charting process for that section. Then the group comes together and shares the pieces, discerning overall structure and themes.

    This is a way for everyone to get an overall picture of a book, generate discussion and provide a road map for people to selectively delve deeper. (I have friends who applied this method to get through their college course work.)

    Here’s a chart I did for an article:

    I really like having a snapshot of the main ideas that I can go back and review.

    (I learned about Charting from my ICA pals.)