While learning the broad strokes of a specific subject may be in your modus operandi if you’re reading books purely through a hobby or interest point of view, the devil will often be in the details if understanding said subject is imperative to your job or school work.
With that being said, here are several tips that you can use to skip the stories and get straight to the hard lessons that are often the crux of any book:
Background knowledge of the whole book will help filter any non important information, and will even help determine if the book has information that you are seeking out. Several online book stores often leave the option of leaving a review, so be sure to get a wide variety of opinions, reading both the good reviews and bad reviews before making a decision to purchase the book.
Ruin the ending and find out the theme of the book. This can be found through either the table of contents, the notary side of the book, or by finding a “Cliff Notes” variation of the book. By doing this you can avoid any stories and get straight to the lessons and bulletpoints that will help you understand whole concepts better.
Like training for a sport, practicing technique is useful, even in regards to reading. “The real idea behind speed reading is that you know how and when to speed up and when to slow down. With a few basic techniques you can get a sizable increase on your maximum speed,” says speed reader and productivity hacker Scott H Young.
If you’re reading about themes that are a bit beyond your current knowledge level, read the sources that the book cites. If there is no citation, Google the terms or phrases that are unfamiliar to you.
Learn everything about the subject, not just from a book’s point of view. There will be subject experts that write hundreds of pages within [multiple] books that may take hours to read, but at the same time there may be audio that the same expert was interviewed in that covers the main topics within a half hour podcast.
If you’re truly dedicated to reading a book, you’ll have to make time for reading, not just have it as an afterthought on your bedside counter. Find time during your day such as that 10-15 minute wait at the dentist, that train commute (e-books on your phone make it easier to carry your books with you), or other noticeable gaps of time where you find yourself with a larger than average break in time.