Leadership and Formation #26: Too Little Time to Read

Leadership and Formation #26: Too Little Time to Read

stick_figure_run_clock_400_clr_7435.pngIn the last post I introduced you reading on the run; continuum reading concepts.  Not every word of every book or article requires reading.  What you read and how much you read depends on the material being read.  As J. Robert Clinton declared, “One can read different books (articles) differently and obtain useful information without having to read every word of every book (article)….Continuum reading concepts teach one how to pick and choose which words, paragraphs, pages, chapters and sections are to be read, and how to read them for information without having to read every word.”

Six reading intensities were identified in the last post, the first two of which were explained in greater detail – scanning, ransacking (see the previous post for more detailed information on these first two levels), browsing, pre-reading, in-depth reading, and studying.  Let’s pick up where we left off again in the words of the original author.

Browse Reading

Browsing id dipping into certain portions of a book to study in detail some discussion of a topic in its contextual treatment.  Having scanned a book you may decide that you are relatively familiar with the material and want to explore in some detail a given topic of interest.  Detailed reading of an extended portion (or portions) of a book is what is meant by browsing.  Often you will discover browsing material when ransacking for a new idea (concept, strategy, process, principle, methodology, etc.)

Three Results

When browsing prepare evaluation type questions on a limited portion of the book you are reading organized around the concept, strategy, process, principle, methodology, etc. you are seeking to explore.  The following questions are helpful to browsing…

  • What did the author actually say on the subject of interest?  Resist initially to read into what the author is saying.
  • How well did the author say it (what definitions, examples, figures of speech, cogency of argument, substantiation) was employed?
  • What did the author leave unsaid?  What lingering questions remain in the mind of the reader that should have been addressed?
  • How does what is said by the author compare to what you have read or learned elsewhere? How does the material differ or contrast with what has been said elsewhere?
  • How useful is the information?  What new insights are gained?  What new perspective has been achieved?  How will what has been learned be operationalized?


Pre-reading a book is a special kind of survey of a book which involves drawing implications from various portions of the book as to the thematic and structural intent of the book.  Pre-reading a book indicates a serious intent to understand an entire book.  When you pre-read a book, you are seeking to find out the overall thematic content of the book and to see how the author is structuring the material to develop the thematic intent.

Structural intent refers to a recognition of how the author uses each portion of the book to contribute to the subject or major ideas of the book.

Thematic intent refers to a single statement that weaves together the main subject of the book and each major idea developed throughout the book.

You pre-read a book when in your scanning, ransacking, and browsing you determine that the book is well written and has developed an important topic in and organized manner.  In pre-reading a book, you will be doing your best to identify a single statement of what the author is saying without reading the entire book.  It is a special kind of survey which requires careful thinking and extrapolation based on a limited amount of information.

The skills to do this are developed only with practice.  After you have pre-read several books and then have followed with reading (the entire book) and discovered how well your pre-reading agrees or disagrees with your reading, you will develop skill and confidence in your ability to pre-read.

Four Results

When you have pre-read a book you will have tentative statements describing…

  • The kind of book being pre-read.
  • The author’s intent and methodology.
  • The author’s thesis which involves the major subject and supporting major ideas.
  • The intent of each major section (or minor where necessary) and how they contribute to the thesis statement.

The last two levels (in-depth reading and studying) will be covered in the next post.


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