As someone who writes a lot and about everything, I am well aware – not every book is produced to shed light. Some books are deliberately written to bring darkness.
The problem is that distinguishing the first from the second before you’ve read both is quite difficult. The modern book-publishing industry masterfully masks watery and “inflated” books: a spectacular cover, a bright title, positive reviews etc…
You buy another bestseller, and by about page 50 you realize that this is a hollow book. It is not only a pity for the money and time wasted – it is a pity for the missed opportunities. It is especially frustrating when you are trying to find in a book the information needed to develop a project, a business, to achieve a goal.
How to evaluate the content of a book before you start reading it?
I have my own methodology by which I choose books to read.
Let’s consider this option – a book is purchased in a new area for the reader. In this case, the reader must without extra costs (time, nerves, money to buy) quickly enter the new topic and as quickly as possible to apply the acquired knowledge in practice.
And here is the first fork.
There are simple cases where a person already addresses the field he or she needs and can ask the right question to the search engine. Let me explain this point to you with a few examples:
|How to distinguish the second declension?||I made this query into a search engine to retrieve the rule in my memory, and to explain it to my daughter. And there are complicated cases: you need to learn more complex knowledge-skills-skills: for example, to enter the space of terms and concepts of a new field.|
That is, in this case it is not even clear how to properly formulate a question and get an exhaustive practical answer to it. In order to ask qualifying questions in professional language, you need, first of all, to familiarize yourself with the thesaurus.
|How to calculate VAT correctly?||This query is not correct because it requires a number of clarifying specific terms. For example: “How to calculate VAT when conducting currency transactions?”. It is also worth clarifying that the words VAT, currency transactions refer to the accountants’ thesaurus. To correctly form queries, you need to master the thesaurus.|
|How to make money online?||The question is not correct – too general. You need to concentrate the query more.|
|How to make money on the Internet on one-page texts?||This is a more specific request, for which the search engine gives more specific and highly specialized information. As a rule, after entering such a query, we see more specialized sites and good quality content written by expert authors. Such content is ready to be worked with it.|
What is enriching thesaurus?
If you have no idea about the subject yet, you unfortunately cannot evaluate the book when you buy it. Of course, you can ask for advice from a more advanced colleague, but here again appear a terminological barrier. Therefore, in order to adequately perceive the advice of the bookstore manager, it is desirable to enrich your thesaurus and own it at least to a minimum extent.
Here are a few examples to clarify:
|Textbook for a technical school or university.||Textbooks take you down a long-established path and introduce concepts in a systematic way.|
|Reading books as recommended by a specialist. Reading books by classics in the field.||The terminology becomes clearer and clearer with repeated reading of several books. The practitioners’ books are richly illustrated with examples from life, making it easier to grasp the material.|
|Attendance at the introductory course. Personal meeting with an expert consultant.||Allows you to get to know a possible counselor, enter a space of new terms, and get answers to the questions asked.|
|Dictionary or encyclopedia.||Allows you to decipher the speech of a specialist.|
1. Find an expert to recommend the right book
Ask the question on specialized Internet forums – what textbooks (books) will they recommend? It is best to contact those who do not make recommendations for monetary gain.
Sometimes, a librarian can help. However, you need to be very clear about your request:
- Textbook for the exam;
- Doing practical work;
- To teach a course or to speak at a conference.
2. Grab several books on the topic you want by different authors
New terms and concepts will “clump” when first read, and will not be perceived adequately. On the one hand, the space of terms must be perceived as a whole, and on the other hand, the terms are introduced sequentially. Therefore, with each new reading of the material, the terms will become more and more familiar.
On the other hand, it is difficult for the average person to force himself to read the same material several times, so it is advisable to read books by different authors for variety. Also, by reading books by different authors, the reader looks at the subject from different angles, which is also useful for a beginner.
For an example: I had the task of learning accounting. I bought ten books and read them. After reading the first book, I didn’t understand the terms at all, but with each new book, the terms became more and more familiar. I “finished” the questions I was interested in with the help of a practicing accountant. For the questions I asked, the practitioner referred me to the law on VAT (Value Added Tax).
3. Choose one of the books to read a textbook for universities
To practice the thesaurus and to enter the space of terms, one of the books on the topic should be a college textbook in the chosen field. Involuntarily or on purpose, each new author introduces his own terminology, which occupies the memory cells of the reader, and he becomes deaf to the perception of generally accepted terms.
As an example: NLP authors repeat the phrase “the map is not the territory” by Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Alfred Korzybski. A reader familiar with the philosophical literature of higher education will translate this phrase into a more familiar one: “Reflection of reality is not reality”. It is good if one first gets acquainted with a philosophy textbook, and only then with NLP literature, because in the textbook the concepts are systematized with more accuracy and much more time is spent on their formulation by methodologists.
4. Rank the authors on a scale of expertise
The next step in choosing literature to read is to find those authors who do not bring anything new or useful to the field they are covering. To do this, decide how to sort the books so that it is clear which of the authors borrowed thoughts from others.
Nowadays, books are often written to make money, make the author’s PR, sell their services better, etc. Therefore, in every fashionable niche (for example: personnel management; making money on the Internet, etc.) a lot of authors are thrown in, who rewrite, paraphrase, twist what the pioneers did. For example, a lot of new TIPS (Theories of Inventive Problem Solving) “experts” explain what was previously done by Altshuller.
Remember that the author of a book may only understand a small area of knowledge, and most of the book is typed for volume (publishers accept books of a certain length).
5. Look for personal examples of authors in books
The value of the author can be determined by his own examples given in the book. Agree that the author, unless, of course, he writes a reference book, should give examples from his own practice, and not only copied from the Internet and other people’s books, especially – without correct references… The richer the author’s practice, the more practical examples there must be.
Here is an example: In almost every book about TIPS you can find an example of an icebreaker going through ice fields like a knife through butter.In almost every book about marketing you can find an example of how Coca Cola flew through Diet Cola.
If there are no personal examples in the book, it means that the author does not understand the subject. If the examples are “hackneyed” and circulate from book to book without reference to primary sources, the author has plagiarized (perhaps unknowingly).
Frankly speaking, I have forbidden to buy practical books (this does not apply to textbooks), where the authors do not provide their personal examples. After reading such books there is a heavy feeling – as though you have read everything, and everything is important, but, poor thing, it is not clear what you should do right now… Better let the book be devoted to one question, but after it will be clear that the author is not a windbag, and his recommendations in certain circumstances can be taken as an example.
6. Look for differences in coverage of the same problem in different authors
From the school drawing course we know that it is impossible to understand from a single projection how a three-dimensional part looks like. For this reason, parts are described by different projections (front view, side view, top view).
It’s the same with reading books. The essence lies in the similarities and differences in the approaches of different authors. When reading books by different authors on the same topic, look for the answer to the question – what are the differences in the authors’ approaches. These differences will show the author’s specialization or outright “bloopers” and incompetence.
Unfortunately, this recommendation can only be fulfilled by reading the book, or at least part of it. At the stage of selecting a book in a store, unfortunately, it is difficult to answer these questions.
7. Look for authors who organize feedback
Choose books whose authors have organized feedback: running a website/blog/e-mailing list where they answer their readers’ questions accurately, participating in professional conferences.
Authors who are passionate about their project are interested in new questions because it helps them work. Explore the author’s Web site to see if the questions you are interested in are already addressed there.
- Try to choose your books more carefully. Don’t read garbage, books with loud titles, compilers, pop;
- Set your goals correctly. This will allow you to cut off any unnecessary things;
- Try to read primary sources and classics;
- Seek to communicate with successful people in your field. Ask them questions: they can provide direct access to knowledge.