How I Read: Blind Elephant Reading

I have recently see some “How I Read” posts (such as this one on Marginal Revolution). I thought I would offer a different option over the “deep reading” ideas. I think there is a time and place for all types of reading, so here is what I shall christen Blind Elephant Reading.

  1. Read a book on a new topic. Read lightly. Think about the big ideas not the nuances.

  2. Read another book on the topic or connected to the topic. Perhaps one of the referenced books in the first book. The connection does not need to be strong but it should be something related to the big ideas of the first book.

  3. Read another book following a chain of big ideas. This time if at all possible from a different perspective, field, or culture. Look for the connections to the previous perspectives.

  4. Continue reading more to grasp the multidimensional aspects of the topic and ideas. Try out a book or article on an extreme position related to the topic.

Simple chains of ideas will hopefully lead you to understand the bigger picture. Like the blind men and the elephant each book will give you a different perspective that may be right in the individual, but wrong in the whole. The more you poke at the big idea from different directions; the more you can get to a understanding of the idea.


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