Do You Make the Most of the Books You Read?



I was reading The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness.

It’s a new interpretation on Epictetus’ original work by Sharon Lebell.

The following point about The Right Way to Read Books caught my attention:

“Don’t just say you have read books.  Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person.  Books are the training weights of the mind.  They are very helpful but it would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents.”

It reminds me of a what a friend told me long ago:

“The difference between you today and you a year from now are the books you read.”

The Birth of “Book Nuggets”

It also reminded me that part of the reason why I started Sources of Insight long ago, was to share the insights and actions from the world’s best books in the form of what I affectionately call “book nuggets.”’

It’s like sharing the needles from among the world’s haystacks.

I found myself constantly mentioning books to friends, colleagues, and the people I mentor that they hadn’t read yet.  So I thought I would give them a jumpstart.  I figured if I shared the “ah-has” from books that I found to be the most useful, insightful, and actionable, it would give them a better reason to read those books that I knew would help them in some way, shape, or form.  And, I also thought it would also be helpful of me to turn more insight into action, and share how I actually use the books I read in the work that I do.

Trial by Fire is One Way to Learn What Works

Given that I’m in the business of business transformation and I do everything from lead project teams from around the world to drive change in complex organizational settings, I get a lot of chances to apply and practice everything I learn under extreme conditions.  You might say that I get to live “trial by fire” and I often get pushed into the deep end of the pool to see if I can swim.  So, in many ways, I use books more than to just throw things up against the wall to see what sticks.

Books are my survival guides.  And, they help me go from surviving to thriving.

In a their own special way, books help me flourish.  It’s like the world’s best mentors at my fingertips.

Turning Insight into Action

Of course, the challenge then is finding the right books and consuming them at a reasonable rate, and turning the information into actionable insights.

One of the things that’s helped me get more out of every book I read is asking a simple question:

How can I use this?

In fact, one of the best ways I’ve found to make the most of any book I read is to challenge myself with the following simple question:

What are 3 takeaways I can use from this book?

You actually ask those questions in just about any scenario where you need to turn insight into action, including this post.

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Image by Christain Liechiti.


  1. I stumbled on to your blog a few weeks ago and it is terrific! Thanks for sharing your many helpful insights!

    In relation to this post I read somewhere:

    ‘Why do houses over $500,000 all have libraries?’


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