4 Ways to Help You Get the Most out of the Books You Read

“There is a direct correlation between the books you read and the success you achieve.” David Cottrell

I firmly believe the books you read hold infinite wisdom. When we scurry through a book, we miss out on a world of knowledge and insight.

Books are filled with new thoughts and ideas and perspectives. They take us to places we’ve never been before and they teach us things we never knew.

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In my own personal opinion, if you’re not trying to get the most out of the books you read, you’re wasting your time (#ouch). I mean…think about it. SERIOUSLY. Why on earth would you spend two weeks or two months (or two years! #YouKnowWhoYouAre) reading a book if you’re not going to make the most of it?

That’s like inviting someone to go eat dinner with you and then sitting there on your phone the entire time.

P O I N T L E S S.

If you’re not a reader, that’s okay! But, I definitely encourage it because that’s how we learn…by reading (whether it be articles or blog posts or magazines or books or newspapers). One of my goals for 2018 is to read at least one book each week. Although I read a lot, I could always read more! This year, I hope to grab my book before grabbing my phone.

Anyway, as I was reading It’s Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke and highlighting, I started thinking about you and wanted to help you get the most out of the books you read!

This is how I personally benefit. You may get the most out of the books you read by taking a totally different approach and that’s okay! It’s all about doing what you’re most comfortable with and what fits your personality best!

The most important thing is that you invest in yourself and strive to stretch and grow! 

1. Highlight as you go.

I highlight the heck out of my own books. I don’t borrow books from people because I want and need to highlight.

Highlighting as I go helps me slow down and really zone in on what I’m reading. It helps me focus my attention on each individual sentence and it helps me see how each sentence relates to the whole. Do I sound super lame and corny?

So, grab a highlighter (I prefer yellow #MyFavoriteColor) and make note of seemingly important sentences/paragraphs that stand out to you and touch you so you can return to them time and again.

2. Review the highlights and then circle (or underline…if you’re brave and not OCD) the most meaningful parts from each highlighted section.

When I finish the book, I always go back through it and read everything I highlighted. Then, I circle what stands out to me even more. Does that make sense? I highlight what’s important and then circle what’s MOST important from that highlighted section.

This helps you get EVEN MORE out of the the books you read because you’re really narrowing down the sentences and statements that really struck a chord and resonated with you.

books you read

3. Write down those quotes.

This actually just changed recently. Here’s what I used to do and what I just started doing!

In the past, when I was finished circling, I would go back through and write down those circled quotes in my yellow (go figure) spiral. I’d write the title of the book and then list all of my favorite quotes, chapter by chapter. This way, I’d always have access to the quotes if I ever needed to pull from them or just needed inspiration.

Starting in 2018, I decided to take a new approach. In certain books, I highlight and circle a LOT.

Therefore, for obvious reasons, writing down the quotes can take a very, very long time (#SlowWriter). I decided to start typing up the quotes instead!


It’s the little things, people!!!!

4. Sticky note different subjects.

Again, I am constantly referring to books for my writing! To make things even easier to find, I turn a sticky note upside down and write different subjects on the end (so the non-sticky party is what peeps out the top of the book). If there’s a chapter or section about a specific topic (relationships, friendships, hardships, overcoming obstacles, faith, forgiveness, etc.) that I may need to reference, I tab it.

If I’m ever writing a blog post or just need information on a topic, I know how to easily find it!

The books you read can (and should!!!) profoundly impact your life. When you approach them with an open mind, they change your perception and help you see different situations and circumstances with new eyes. 

That’s why I decided to read at least one book each week in 2018!

Jon Gordon and Jefferson Bethke and Jon Acuff all did it and I felt inspired.

Again, it’s totally okay if you have a different system to go by. I’m just sharing my process in case you didn’t have one but wanted one! The most important thing is that you challenge yourself and allow yourself to begin each book with an open mind and give yourself permission to see things the way other people see them.

You can agree with them, or not!

Just make sure you’re getting the most out of the books you read!


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