Learning to read without drowning in an endless stream of books worth reading.
An effective way to learn about things is to read about them and, these days, you should be able to find at least one book written on just about any given subject. Just by reading work-related websites you'll be able to compile a list of possible worthwhile books, which all in all will quickly add up to quite an impressive stack of books that you REALLY should read, if those sites are to be believed. But are all those books on your list really that useful and relevant for you? Even though the subject might be interesting, that doesn't necessarily mean that the book is worth reading too. Not everybody with a brilliant idea is brilliant at writing it down or in a way that is to appealing to you. Obviously, not all books are alike and not every book is worth your precious time.
Now what? And that's just it, isn't it? Reading a book from cover to cover takes time, rather a lot of time, actually. And time? Well...uh... the trouble with time is that there's only so many hours in each day. Besides work, you also like to go out to play you favourite sport, go to meet-ups, maybe go out to dinner with friends, or go to that concert you've been wanting to go to for ages. Oh, or to just spend an evening binging Netflix snuggled up against your significant other, that would also be nice, wouldn't it? So it can be really annoying when you, having made the effort and having struggled to get to that last page, are left with this feeling of: 'Mweh, is that it? I could have done something better with my time.'
How do you decide which books worth your time? As the saying goes: you can't judge a book by its cover. What can you do? I just happen to have THE solution: Xtrem Reading.
Get comfy and I'll explain it to you: Xtrem Reading is a lot like speed dating but for books. By joining forces with someone else you'll be able to not just read ONE but TWO books in just ONE hour. Impossible? No, trust me, it works! Of course, it's not possible to read two books from cover to cover in one hour but by working together you can really get a good idea whether a
book is worth your time and effort. And that is something, isn't it? How does it work? Easy. You both select a book. Set an alarm for 15 - 25 minutes and use that time to have a good browse through your book. Read the summary, have a look at the way it's been structured, read those bits that interest you, and take notes. When the alarm goes off, exchange books and do the same thing over again. When you've 'read' both books, take five minutes per book to discuss your opinions. Rate each book from 1 - 5 on how easy the book was to read and on how much you'd recommend it to others.
By using this method, you'll have been able to get a pretty good idea of the subject and will have obtained quite a lot of information already. As a result, you can consider less interesting or relevant books as having been read and cross them off your list. Those books that are interesting but just not that accessible? Just browse them through a bit more when you have the time and simply read those parts that interest you. Et voila! Off the list! And those books you'd definitely recommend and were easy to read? Those are the books that you get comfy with on the sofa or in the bus, you'll have reached that final page before you now it.
Roots in X-treme Programming
Do you know what makes Xtrem Reading extra special? The idea behind Xtrem Reading actually comes from software development techniques such as Xtreme programming and pair programming. You're not jusgt sitting there reading on your own but together with someone else. And by reading with someone else, you not only learn from the book but also from each other. Because you will most likely have read different bits, and you will probably have formed very different opinions about the exact same book. Providing you with additional insights that you may well have overlooked. Oh, and you get to know about a book that probably wasn't on your list, and now you know if it that was an omission that should be rectified immediately.... or not, of course. All within an hour! How cool is that?
I can hear you thinking: where on earth am I going to find a partner? My significant other works in a different sector and, to be honest, has other interests. The same goes for most of my friends and it's not like my local library is into this sort of thing, now is it?
Well, at work, of course! There's a big chance that your colleagues pretty much have the same list books they'd like read some time in the near future and they definitely face the same time restraints you do. Another bonus: you'll be sharing information and experiences which are relevant for both your jobs. Which will only make working together that much easier.
Go for it!
So, if you're smart, this is your chance to not only get a grip on that pesky reading list but also the perfect opportunity to score serious cookie points at work by organising a Xtrem Reading session. Yes, it does mean biting the bullet and coming up with a good proposal to win over your boss and your colleagues and yes, organising a first session can be a bit daunting. But that shouldn't stop you. I'm sure that there are plenty of people at work who'd be willing to join, once you've made the effort to organise a session. And it is not as if you have to persuade everyone, now is it? All you need to start with, is one colleague who's interested and more will surely follow.
Credits where credits are due:
XTREM Reading was invented by Cédric Tamavond and Yoan Thirion of Agile Partner and they have created a website bursting with information and handy materials to help you organise your own XTREM Reading session.
If you're really smart, you'll convince your boss to hire me to make your Xtrem Reading session a raving success! ;) I've done over a dozen Xtrem reading sessions already, so drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org