Pre-reading a book

Looking at a map before wandering into a new place helps you get around faster. Besides, you will also know which parts of the city are worth visiting, which ones you can stroll past and which ones you can avoid.

Pre-reading a non-fiction book is analogous to reading a map. It helps us decide

  • Whether the book is worth picking up
  • Which parts of the book you can skim through
  • Which parts you can read in detail (chew and digest in Francis Bacon’s immortal words)

Here are a few things you can do in order to pre-read a book

  • Study the table of contents (especially the most descriptive ones)
  • Read the preface
  • Skim through the epilogue – most writers summarize their findings there
  • Examine the index to find out the topics covered in the book
  • Dip in and out of chapters that are crucial to the book’s central argument
  • Listen to an interview about the book with the book’s author

Pre-reading a book should not take more than a few minutes – one hour at the most. But it sets you up for reading the book faster and getting the most out of it.

Inspiration: How to Read a Book

A more detailed read on the topic

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