Big Brain Ideas

How to Read a Book, Chapter 5: How to Be a Demanding Reader

This will be a short one. How to Be a Demanding Reader is a short chapter, and I didn’t find many insights. It felt more like “some final thoughts before we talk about analytical reading” than anything else.

Key Ideas

The TL;DR of this chapter is that you will get the most out of a book when you have a conversation with it. A common theme we keep coming back to is that reading should generate questions, and your job is to find answers in the book, and that theme is present in this chapter.

Having a mental conversation with the book isn’t enough, though. You should be writing down your questions and answers. Writing helps us clarify and organize our thoughts, so your questions and answers should both be well-formed. Writing things down will also give you an artifact you can refer back to later that is more durable than your memory.

Finally, you must work on turning this into a habit. When you first start doing this, it will slow down your reading speed a lot. As you get more used to the process, it will become automatic, and you’ll regain some of the reading speed you lost.


I don’t have much to say here because these are ideas that we’ve talked about a lot already. Ask the book questions and then answer them. Build a habit of doing that. These two things will make your reading astoundingly effective. You’ll remember and understand more.

Chapter 6 is the first chapter in Part 2 of How to Read a Book. Part 2 focuses on analytical reading, which is the part I’m most interested in. Stay tuned and check Twitter for updates.

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