Summary of Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy by Robert H Frank

Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy by Robert H Frank can be summarised that talent, hard work and skills are important but luck plays a huge role too. Interesting insights are that people who feel they’re lucky or have good fortune are more generous in charitable donations and being grateful makes people healthier, happier and more generous again. So start counting your blessings and good fortune. Can you think of a few examples of your good fortune or luck that you’ve experienced over the course of your life? Do it now and notice how you’ll feel.

Watch Robert H Frank summarising his book Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy

Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy by Robert H Frank

Also read: Summary of The Luck Factor by Dr Richard Wiseman and how to boost your luck with practical and scientific principles behind the luck factor

‘I increasingly suspect that the key to success isn’t talent, luck, nepotism or even showing up. It’s getting enough sleep.” Simon Kuper, FT

Top Study Skills, Tips and Techniques for Students to Pass Exams

Top Study Skills, Tips and Techniques for Students and to Pass Exams

• Study in 20 min sessions
• Have breaks
• Use all spd rdng techniques – investing 1-2 days for mastering speed reading and accelerated learning skill will be totally the best time spend (and you can use all your textbooks for learning speed reading)
• Drink water (eat well: omega 3, protein, etc) and look after yourself
• Sleep a lot (the more you learn to more you have to sleep because sleep is for consolidating your learning and boosting your memory – don’t compromise on sleep, you won’t perform well at the exams! It’s probably the second most important tip)
• Have study buddies as part of collaborative learning (plural – sometimes your study buddy might get ill, so have a few)
• Plan and prepare
Download everything
• Learn to manage stress (diet, exercise, meditation/mindfulness, tapping etc) and how to be in the top state for learning and exams – this might be the most important study tip! Stress is responsible for at least 80% problems during the exams.
• Use syntopic processing to work with several books or a different type of material at the same time
• Find your learning style – we all are different – experiment with what works for you

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Top Books on Branding, Naming, Design, Logo Design, Marketing, Creativity, Presentation skills and Entrepreneurship

Top books on branding, naming, design, logo design, marketing, creativity, presentation skills and entrepreneurship
(my absolute favourites in bold)


Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team by Alina Wheeleer
Good and practical approaches to branding as well as all key branding concepts. The one to start with, and probably the best intro book into branding.

Brand Hijack: Marketing without Marketing by Alex Wipperfurth 
Practical and less traditional – where branding is/was going.

Kellogg on Branding: The Marketing Faculty of the Kellogg School of Management by Philip Kotler 
More academic but still practical with good summaries of different well-tested branding processes – this one I would buy later if you still need more info on branding.

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Summary of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

Summary of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

Summary of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

200 years ago, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1797-1851). Shelley was 18 years old when she started writing the story and the first edition was published anonymously in London on 1 January 1818, when she was 20. Her name then appeared on the second edition which published in 1823.

Summary of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

Type of work Conceptual horror novel (plot: overcoming the monster which is one of top six or seven universal plots in novels)
Setting Switzerland; late 1700s
Principal characters
Robert Walton, an explorer attempting to sail to the North Pole
Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a “monster”
Clerval, Frankenstein’s friend
The Monster, Frankenstein’s angry, frustrated, and lonely creation 

Story overview
His ship surrounded by ice, Robert Walton watched with his crew as a huge, misshapen “traveller” on a dog sled disappeared across the ice. The next morning, as the fog lifted and the ice broke up, they found another man, nearly frozen, on a slab of floating ice. By giving him hot soup and rubbing his body with brandy, the crew restored him to health. A few days later he was able to speak.

This stranger, Victor Frankenstein, seemed upset to hear that an earlier sled had been sighted. Then he began to tell his story:

Victor had been born the only child of a good Genevese family. During a journey with her husband abroad, his mother found a peasant and his wife with five hungry babies. All were dark-complexioned, save one, a very fair little girl. His mother decided at that moment to adopt the child.

Victor and his adopted sister, Elizabeth, came to love one another, though they were very dissimilar in character. Elizabeth “busied herself with following the aerial creations of poets,” while, for Victor, “it was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn…the physical secrets of the world.”

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Why deep sleep is the most important aspect for learning, memory, speed reading and success

Why deep sleep is the most important aspect for learning, memory, speed reading and success.

We spend a lot of time in our bedrooms or sleeping
On average, a person sleeps for about 8 hours a day, which means that one sleeps for one-third of one’s life. 

Sleep is recognised as the most important aspect of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health
There are tons of research on the importance of sleep for our health, wellness, relationships, learning and memory, as well as performance and success at work.

How a nap can boost your brain power
‘I’ll sleep on it’, common sense suggests, and now researchers discovered that this old adage really works. In a study at the University of Bristol, 16 participants were presented with a word recognition test on a computer screen. A word was shown at the subliminal level, beneath consciousness awareness for the human mind to register – just 50 milliseconds, followed by a second word that flashed up very quickly. Some groups of words were associated. The control group then had a 90-minute nap before they all repeated the assignment. The researchers used EEG equipment to measure the changes in participants’ brain activity throughout the study and found that the task was processed much more quickly in participants who had a nap. Significant results were found in the instances where the words were associated. The study suggests that information taken in during wakefulness is processed in some deeper, qualitative way during sleep. Researcher Dr Liz Coulthard says that the findings showed our minds are capable of working on cues presented ‘beneath our conscious awareness’.

Watch these eight videos below about the importance of sleep for health, learning, memory, speed reading, decision-making and success.

The benefits of deep sleep and how to get more of it
There’s nothing quite like a good night’s sleep. What if technology could help us get more out of it? Dan Gartenberg is working on tech that stimulates deep sleep, the most regenerative stage which (among other wonderful things) might help us consolidate our memories and form our personalities. Find out more about how playing sounds that mirror brain waves during this stage might lead to deeper sleep — and its potential benefits on our health, memory and ability to learn.

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Sleep – The Ultimate Key to Optimum Performance, Learning, Memory, Health and more… Summary of Why We Sleep, The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker

Why We Sleep, The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker Summary

orWhy We Sleep, The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker

Sleep is the best medicine
It looks like sleep is the panacea that can solve most of your problems. Health-wise, sleep will protect you from flu and infections, heart disease, mental health problems, dementia, and accidents among other things as well as help you lose weight and make you look younger (beauty sleep). Sleep will boost your overall performance and make you more productive, creative and socially adept. When learning is concerned, sleep will boost your memory. One of the key functions of sleep is to process and consolidate your memory.

“Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer.”

Interestingly enough, the 108th Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for 2017, has been awarded to a trio of American scientists, Jeffrey C Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W Young, for their discoveries on the molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythms – in other words, the 24-hour body biological clock, that helps to regulate sleep patterns, feeding behaviour, hormone release and blood pressure. Their discoveries have explained, “how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronised with the Earth’s revolutions.”

“Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day. Sleep is the best medicine.” Professor Matthew Walker


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Top 100+ Books on Prosperity and Wealth Creation

Prosperity booklist 

Prosperity, money and wealth creation or financial freedom – mean different things to different people. Whatever it means to you and if you want to have more of it, there is plenty of advice from people who have mastered the art of wealth creation. And what’s the best, easiest and cheapest way to learn how to do it – speed read their books or at least read the summaries of the books which counts as speed reading (we’ve summarised some of them for you). In an interview with Bill Gates, he was asked, “If you could have one superpower what would it be?” He responded with, “The ability to read super fast.”

Getting the information on how to become financially free or independent is the first step. Applying the principles of wealth creation is another. There are a few important aspects that people who have mastered the art of prosperity have in common: values (top prosperity tip: make sure that money/prosperity/wealth is one of your top values in life), beliefs, mindsets, thinking about money and prosperity as well as actual skills of investing, creating and managing wealth. And there is luck which most wealthy people value as well. You need a variety of books to cover these essential aspects to give you a solid foundation for your prosperity and financial freedom. Best of luck 🙂

Our personal choice for the top 8 books on prosperity, wealth creation and financial freedom

  1. Richard Wiseman The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind (2004) – Read the summary
  2. 50 Prosperity Classics (summarised below)
  3. Anthony Robbins Unshakeable: Your Guide to Financial Freedom
  4. Paul McKenna I can make you rich (2007)
  5. Deepak Chopra Creating Affluence (1998)
  6. Shakti Gawain Creating True Prosperity (1997)
  7. Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer Creating Money: Attracting Abundance (2008)
  8. Anthony Robbins book Money: Master the Game – 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom (2014) – Read the summary

Top speed reading tip for prosperity
Download (prime yourself with) the top books on prosperity into your (unconscious/non-conscious) mind with intention of getting results – it’s called the direct/implicit learning technique.

From: 50 Prosperity Classics by Tom Butler-Bowdon

Master the inner game/mindset of wealth and abundance with books such as

James Allen The Path of Prosperity (1905) In short: You will only become truly prosperous when you have disciplined your mind. Paradoxically, wealth (and happiness) comes most easily to those who forget themselves in their service to others.
Genevieve Behrend Your Invisible Power (1921)
Rhonda Byrne The Secret (2006)
T. Harv Eker Secrets of the Millionaire Mind (2005)
Charles Fillmore Prosperity (1936)
Esther Hicks & Jerry Hicks Ask and It Is Given (2004)
Napoleon Hill The Master-Key to Riches (1965)
Catherine Ponder Open Your Mind to Prosperity (1971)
John Randolph Price The Abundance Book (1987)
Sanaya Roman & Duane Packer Creating Money (1988) 
In short: If you know the universe to be an abundant place, you won’t fear not having the resources to pursue your purpose or mission in life.
Marsha Sinetar Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow (1987)
Max Weber The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904–5)

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The Future of your Profession is at Stake

No profession can survive or outperform AI
Whatever your profession is – teaching, engineering, medicine, law, etc – it may not be safe – it can be automated, done by an algorithm, robots or computers much better in the future. Dr Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (a must speed-read) explains how revolutions in technology and society will transform not only our bodies and minds but also our work. If you’re a student, watch Harari’s talk which charts what might happen to your chosen profession in not distant future.

In the age of automation and AI, two most important skills are how to adapt and learning to learn (and speed reading), as you don’t know if your job/a portfolio career/vocation is going to be made redundant next year.

Most doctors will be out of work
Yuval Noah Harari gives a very good example of how most doctors will be out of work in the future because AI will do their jobs much better ie will diagnose illnesses better and offer better treatments and cures – cheaper, with 24/7 access anywhere in the world. There are companies who will build a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and you breath into it.

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Lighting for reading

Lighting is important for reading. And it can also be fun.

The late Zaha Hadid who was crowed as the Queen of Curves for her amazing, curvilinear designs, designed these simple and yet powerful book-shaped lamps for a shopping mall in Seoul. I want one.

Zaha Hadid - books lamps Seoul 2

Zaha Hadid – reading lamps Seoul

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Summary of DRACULA by Bram Stoker

Summary of DRACULA by Bram Stoker 

DRACULA by Bram Stoker (1847-1912) published on 26 May 1897 (120 years ago)

Type of work Horror novel
Setting Eastern Europe and England; late 1890s
Principal characters
Lucy Westenra, a young upper-class woman
Mina Murray, Lucy’s friend
Jonathon Harker, a lawyer, and Mina’s fiancé
Arthur Holmwood, the only son of Lord Godalming and heir to that title
John Seward, a doctor and insane-asylum keeper
Quincey Morris, an American friend of both Arthur and Dr Seward
Dr Van Helsing, a Dutch doctor and Dr Seward’s former professor
Count Dracula, a Transylvanian noble

Story Overview
Though the Eastern European countryside was lush and verdant, lawyer Jonathon Harker felt uneasy. As he traveled to resolve a problem with a client’s estate, he had met with several warnings to, frankly, stay away from his destination: the castle of Count Dracula, a Transylvanian noble. Others had even gone so far as to slip him a clove of garlic or small crucifix – talismans, they said, to ward off evil.

Jonathon himself had dismissed these admonitions as nothing more than rampant superstition. But as he neared the castle, the sky let loose a torrential downpour. The Count’s gaunt coachman appeared and offered Jonathon a ride to the castle. He accepted gratefully, but the warnings echoed in his mind as the coach was followed closely by an eerie blue flame – and a pack of howling wolves.

Summary of Dracula

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SUMMARY of Teach Like Finland: 33 Simple Strategies for Joyful Classrooms by Timothy D. Walker

SUMMARY of Teach Like Finland: 33 Simple Strategies for Joyful Classrooms by Timothy D. Walker

Some books are so well written and clear that you can get the gist from just the TOC (table of content). If you need to know more – why  Finland’s school children are some of the smartest in the world? – get the book.

Finland is one of the happiest countries in the world with excellent state education and free universities. Also, Finland has been voted the third most innovative country in the world with a lifestyle that breeds creativity and innovation.

For starters: no homework, no exams. no shoes in class.

1 Well-being
Schedule brain breaks (Let kids disconnect from their work)
Learn on the move (Students should stand up or walk round in class)
Recharge after school (Keep homework to a minimum)
Simplify the space
Breathe fresh air (Open windows, let in natural light)
Get into the wild (Connect with nature, go outside)
Keep the peace

+ Keep speed reading

The top collections of summaries

Research suggests that reading summaries is a valid way of getting quality information and people who read summaries not only get more out of books but also remember the information for longer.

The best collection of summaries

Passing Time in the Loo volume 1, 2, 3 – each volume contains 150 summaries  which is an amazing deal for £5.87 or FREE on Amazon Kindle Prime

Book Summaries: Passing Time in the Loo - 150 summaries of classincs

Book Summaries: Passing Time in the Loo – 150 summaries of classincs


Passing Time in the Loo Vol 1

contains summaries of more than 200 books, including

Novels and plays, old and new, eg A Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne), A Farewell to the Arms (Ernest Hemingway), For Whom the Bell Tolls (Ernest Hemingway), Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy), Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck), The Faerie Queene (Edmund Spenser), Beowulf, Prometheus Bound (Aeschylus), Tales of King Arthur (Thomas Mallory), El Cid, A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens), The Lady of the Lake (Sir Walter Scott), The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck), The Travels of Marco Polo, The Last of the Mohicans (James Fenimore Cooper), The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Samuel Taylor Coleridge), Moby Dick (Herman Melville), The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway), Don Quixote de la Mancha (Miguel de Cervantes), Peer Gynt (Henrik Ibsen), Great Expectations (Charles Dickens), Silas Marner (George Eliot), Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), Far from the Madding Crowd (Thomas Hardy), Little Women (Louisa May Alcott), Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), The Maltese Falcon (Dashiell Hammett), Call of the Wild (Jack London), The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald), King Solomon’s Mines (Sir Henry Rider Haggard), Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde), Frankenstein (Mary Shelly), The Time Machine (H.G.Wells), The Turn of the Screw (Henry James), The Fall of the House of Usher (Edgar Allan Poe), The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck), To Kill a Mockingbird (Nelle Harper Lee), Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriett Beecher Stowe), Candide (Voltaire), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (Mark Twain), 1984 (George Orwell), I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou), One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez), Lord of the Flies (William Golding), Henderson the Rain King (Saul Bellow), Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison), The Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan), The Shell Seekers (Rosamunde Pilcher), The Sound of Waves (Yukio Mishima), Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (Anne Taylor), The Courtship of Miles Standish (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde), Our Town (Thornton Wilder), Death of a Salesman (Arthur Miller) … and plays by William Shakespeare, including Hamlet, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, As You Like It, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing … and many more

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Das Kapital by Karl Marx (1818-1883) – Summary

Das Kapital by Karl Marx (1818-1883) – Summary 

Summary of Das Kapital by Karl Marx

Summary of Das Kapital by Karl Marx

2017 and Das Kapital is in vogue again, as modern Marxists try to keep the revolution permanent. Since the financial crash, people’s thinking has changed and they are trying to understand if the capitalist system is going to destroy itself. Former Greek financial minister Yanis Yaroufakis, has described himself as an ‘erratic Marxist’ and Jeremy Corbyn described Karl Marx as a ‘great economist’ and even the shadow chancellor John McDonnell suggested that there was ‘a lot to learn’ from Marx’s most famous work, Das Kapital. Read this short summary of this classic to join the conversation…

Summary of Das Kapital by Karl Marx
In the mid-19th century when Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital – an exhaustive work of more than a thousand pages – factory conditions were often intolerable, wages were at best barely adequate, and there were few groups or governments who advocated reform. Therefore, Marx took it upon himself to define “Capitalism,” explain and condemn Capitalist methods, predict the inevitable doom of the system, and issue the rallying cry “Workers of the world, unite!”

When Marx simply describes what he sees, his analyses and criticisms appear most lucid. In contrast, his theories become confusing as he attempts to prove even the vaguest point using mathematics. He felt that these elaborate equations and proofs were necessary because his book does not purport to be merely a moral prescription for society’s ills, but a scientific description of the unavoidable course of history. It is, of course, actually not only a “prescription” but a passionate exhortation.

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Summary of Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

Summary of Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

Get the message / summary of the book from popular highlights
One simple way of getting a quick summary of any ebook is to read the popular highlights on Kindle. Read all the popular highlights below and decide for yourself if that’s enough to get the message of the book and navigate yourself to a greater expertise. Crowd wisdom rocks.

10,000-hour rule
10,000-hour rule was the original Ericsson’s research on expert violinists which was popularised by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. In short, if you practice for 10,000 hours (about 3 hours a day for 10 years), you will become a world leading expert.

Three types of practice: naive, purposeful, deliberate
According to Ericsson there are three types of practice: naive (generic, with mindless repetition), purposeful ( well-defined, with specific goals) and deliberate (pushes you out of your comfort zone and involves feedback and focus). The key to expertise is deliberate practice: “Deliberate practice is purposeful practice that knows where it is going and how to get there.”

Popular highlights from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
“Purposeful practice requires getting out of one’s comfort zone. This is perhaps the most important part of purposeful practice.” 559 popular highlights (the number of popular highlights at the time of writing this blog summary)

“The right sort of practice carried out over a sufficient period of time leads to improvement. Nothing else.” 1616 popular highlights

“Purposeful practice is all about putting a bunch of baby steps together to reach a longer-term goal.” 1864 popular highlights

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Download books into your non-conscious mind – Speed Reading Technique 28

Speed reading technique 28  – Download books into your non-conscious mind

Download or photoreading books

Download or photoread books

Download the book into your non-conscious mind by looking quickly at each double page without making any conscious effort to see or understand the text. Trust that the information has gone into your non-conscious mind. Use the other conscious spd rdng techniques as before and gradually notice how much more information you know as the downloaded knowledge comes to conscious awareness. 

“We have 300 million pattern recognisers in the neocortex.” Ray Kurzweil, Futurist

This is the easiest technique in the book to do – and possibly the hardest to understand. It is different from all the other techniques and strategies in that you rely on your non-conscious mind. You do not consciously have to ‘read’ anything.

The purpose of downloading is to expose your non-conscious mind to all the information in the book so that it can go directly into your long-term memory. It ‘primes’ your brain with the information in the text.

‘Priming’ refers to the passive, subtle, and unobtrusive activation of relevant mental representations by external, environmental stimuli. Priming research has shown that the mere, passive perception of environmental events, inputs and cues directly trigger higher mental processes in the absence of any involvement by conscious, intentional processes.

Over 200 studies have shown such priming effects on impression formation as well as on social behaviour. An extraordinarily wide range of behaviours can be affected by subtle environmental stimuli, such as walking  speed, speech volume, academic performance, economic decisions.”  John Bargh, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science, Yale University

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Rapid reading: speed reading technique 24. Rapid reading from cover to cover.

Rapid reading: speed reading technique 14. Rapid reading from cover to cover.

Look quickly (2-10 seconds per page) at every page, searching for ‘hot spots’ of key information. Do this after a work session to collect any final bits of information.

Reading from cover to cover means going quickly through the book sequentially looking at every page for key information. This is what most people think speed reading is (whereas it is just as valid to go backwards and forwards through the book or only go to specific sections to look for relevant information.)

HOW TO rapid read

Look quickly through the book, looking consciously at every page (2-10 seconds per page). Use the speed-reading patterns (speed reading technique 15) to look for hot spots (speed reading technique11) of key information. Any time you find key information you can slow down and read around it (dip) until you have grasped the point, and then resume rapid reading.

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Post-truth: the word of the year 2016

‘Post-truth’ is the word of the year 2016

Oxford Dictionaries states that post-truth might have been first used in 1992, but the frequency of its usage increased by 2,000% in 2016 compared with last year!

The definition as an adjective relates to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals.

Other shortlisted words included: Adulting, Alt-right, Brexiteer, Chatbot,Coulrophobia, Glass cliff, Hygge, Latinx and Woke.

Read more about the word of the year 2016: post-truth

Summary of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Dr Yuval Noah Harari

Summary of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Dr Yuval Noah Harari
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Dr Yuval Noah Harari is a must-read for anyone who is interested in the future. To sum up, the key message of the book is that AI (Artifical Intelligence) can take over most of the work done by humans. AI probably will replace people and they will become ‘a massive new class of economically useless people.’ Algorithms will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years. People to come will need to learn skills how to re-invent themselves very quickly. In education, at the moment, there is too much emphasis on optimisation and performance (which is all good for now) but not enough on exploration and future positioning and that’s where the future jobs/careers/vocations will be.

Watch a summary
Watch Yuval Noah Harari, who is a historian, talk about his new book (and you may not need to speed read it). The book has 460 pages and according to Amazon, it will take you 8 hours and 50 minutes to read it. The video is only 1 hour and 30 minutes. His previous book Sapiens was a huge bestseller which propelled Harari to a massive fame as a historian and thinker.

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The Divided Brain – Asymmetry of the Brain and Human Meaning & Why Are We so Unhappy? – by Dr Iain McGilchrist

The Divided Brain – Asymmetry of the Brain and Human Meaning & Why Are We so Unhappy? – by Dr Iain McGilchrist, the author of The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World and The Divided Brain and the Search for Meaning – Why Are We so Unhappy? (only £0.99 – but is very short too and it kind of answers the question: why are we so unhappy? Spoiler: because we use our left brain too much – kind of…)

Left brain vs right brain in speed reading
McGilchrist findings and all the research he sites confirm what we’ve been advocating for the last 18 years. When using speed reading, you need to get the big picture, overview and context first and then look at the details (in a similar way as you’d read a newspaper – that’s why newspapers are written like that, otherwise nobody would read them if what you get is only details). The key speed reading techniques for overview are the overview, downloading, rapid reading and summaries. Top speed reading techniques for getting details are the purpose, underlining and search.

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Toby L’Estrange speed reading review of Harry Potter the Cursed Child

Toby L’Estrange speed reading review of Harry Potter the Cursed Child

10-year-old speed-reader Toby L’Estrange’s review of The Cursed Child

Speed reader Toby L’Estrange

Speed reader Toby L’Estrange

“Phew. Just finished speed reading the new Harry Potter book. My score on a scale of 1-10? I think it’s a 6. My favourite is still Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – it had lots of fun challenges and you got the best glimpse of Hogwarts).This one’s a bit different from all the others.

Firstly it’s the script for a play, so it’s quite different from reading a novel. The whole story is told through what the characters say to each other – plus some stage directions. But once you get over that, you read it just the same as the others – except the play is in two parts, so the book is too.

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How to speed read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (or anything else)

How to speed read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (or anything else)

How to speed read Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildToby L’Estrange is the 10-year-old Spd Rdr in the newspapers who was asked by Amazon to read the new Harry Potter book on their new Kindle device. Toby was taught speed reading by his Grandma – Susan Norman – one of the authors of Spd Rdng: The Speed Reading Bible. 

WATCH TOBY L’Estrange talking about speed reading the new Harry Potter and the Cursed Child below

Toby will download ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ as soon as possible after midnight very first thing on Sunday 31 July (Harry Potter’s birthday!) and as soon as he’s read it will put up a review on Amazon. At 1000 words per minute it should take him about two hours. 

You too can learn how to speed read Harry Potter…

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Summary of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Summary Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
(from Passing Time in the Loo: Volume 1 – Summaries of All-Time Great Books)

Rome & JulietType of work Romantic tragedy
Setting Verona, Italy; 15th century
Principal characters
Romeo, son of the house of Montague
Juliet, daughter of the Capulet household
Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin
Mercutio, Romeo’s friend
Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin
Lady Montague, the clan’s matriarch
Lady Capulet, Juliet’s mother
Juliet’s ribald nurse
Friar Lawrence, a Franciscan Monk

Story overview
For a very long time the Capulets and the Montagues had been feuding. Harsh words often led to violence between the two houses, who were sworn as deadly enemies. Prince Escalus of Verona happened upon one such bloody brawl and angrily pronounced, “If ever you disturb our streets again, your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.”

Shortly after this, Romeo and his cousin Benvolio met on the street, and Romeo sadly confessed his unrequited love for an aloof and indifferent young woman. “[Give] liberty unto thine eyes; Examine other beauties,” was Benvolio’s curative. But Romeo was unmoved: “Thou canst not teach me to forget.”

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How to speed read the Chilcot report

How to speed read the Chilcot report

The full Chilcot report consists of 12 volumes and contains 2.6 million words. Thank God, a 150-page (Chilcote report 2016) executive summary is being published as well and that’s where I would start to get an overview of the whole document.
Once I’ve got the big picture and overview of the whole document and how it’s structured (hopefully it’s well laid out with good TOC/table of content and index, etc) I would ask myself some basic question such as: What specifically do I want to know? and What will I do with this information?

2.6m words

It’s about 4.5 times bigger than War and Peace (587,00 words) and about three times bigger than the Bible (775,00 words) and the complete works of Shakespeare (885,000 words).

Speed reading of the Chilcot Report 2016

Speed reading of the Chilcot Report 2016

Speed reading is information extraction so there is no point of reading the Chilcot report, from cover to cover – just for the sake of it. It would take a long, long time. Just think, if an average, educated person reads about 240wpm (word per minute) – it would take about 180 hours to read it from cover to cover (that is about seven full 24-hour days of non-stop traditional reading).

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Set High Expectations and Push yourself Beyond your Comfort Zone – Speed Reading Technique #34

Set High Expectations and Push yourself Beyond your Comfort Zone – Speed Reading Technique #34

Expectations (what you want) usually exceed your actual results – which tends to lead people to reduce their expectations. But then results go down again – until you’re back to old, slow traditional reading habits. Increase your expectations, set tighter time limits, strive for more, read faster – and see your results improve.

A woman went up to Gary Player, the golfer, after he’d just played a particularly difficult shot very successfully. “You were lucky there,” she said. Gary Player looked at her thoughtfully and replied, “You know, it’s a funny thing. I find that the more I practise, the luckier I get.”

"If you never push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you will never improve."

“If you never push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you will never improve.”

As you put the techniques in this book into practice, make sure you raise your expectations about what you can achieve in a limited amount of time. If you have already experienced how much you can achieve in a 20-minute session (speed reading technique >18) working with a book or in a 75-minute syntopic processing session (speed reading technique >22) working with several books, you will also have noticed how much more you achieve in the last third of the time compared to the first two-thirds.

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Summary of Does your Family Make You Smarter?: Nature, Nurture, and Human Autonomy by James R. Flynn

Summary of Does your Family Make You Smarter?: Nature, Nurture, and Human Autonomy by James R. Flynn 

Summary of Does your Family Make You Smarter?by James Flynn

Summary of Does your Family Make You Smarter?by James Flynn

James R Flynn in his book ‘Does your Family Make You Smarter?: Nature, Nurture, and Human Autonomy’ states that “Intelligence has always been thought to be static. However, the new evidence shows that this is wrong. The brain seems to be rather like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets. That means you can upgrade your own intelligence all through life.” And your environment, especially your family plays a big part in it. This summarises the whole premise of the book, ie you can improve yourself and your IQ, and the surrounding environment has a significant effect on your intelligence.

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Speed Reading Technique 10 – Take your awareness to your concentration point

Speed Reading Technique 10 – Take your awareness to your concentration point

SUMMARY: Focus on a point about 15 cms above and slightly behind the top of your head (your concentration point) – take a deep breath in and relax your eyes as you breathe out. Then start reading.

Many people can increase their reading speed simply by taking their attention to the concentration point about 15 cms above and slightly behind the top of the head. Many notice a different quality to their reading, saying the text is ‘clearer’ and ‘easier to understand’. Their ability to concentrate is also enhanced.

… before and after doing this technique to see the difference it makes to you – see QUICK TEST

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Pbook Comeback – Paper books are making a comeback

Pbook Comeback – Paper books are making a comeback
For the first time since the advent of ebooks, we’re beginning to see the comeback of ‘pbooks’ (as published/paper books are coming to be known in the industry).  The CEO of Waterstones admitted that the chain came within hours of collapse and that their 11th hour turnaround was as a result of a renewed focus on the retail experience, rather than just selling books. In addition local managers throughout the country have been released from following a ‘company line’ and given autonomy to buy stock relevant to their local market and display it as they see fit.
The ebook revolution has also forced publishers to completely rethink their products and there is now much greater emphasis on design and publishing books that you want to hold and enjoy, so that they genuinely compete with ‘soulless’ ebooks.
Check out the full report by accessing ‘What Britain Buys’ with Mary Portas, 9pm Monday 9 May, Channel 4

Summaries of Shakespeare’s works

Passing Time in the Loo: Shakespeare - Summaries of Shakespeare's Greatest Sonnets and Plays (Comedies, Tragedies, Histories) (Passing Time in the Loo: ... Glimpse Of His World And Greatest Plays)

Passing Time in the Loo: Shakespeare – Summaries of Shakespeare’s Greatest Sonnets and Plays (Comedies, Tragedies, Histories) (Passing Time in the Loo: … Glimpse Of His World And Greatest Plays)

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” said William Shakespeare himself. So read summaries of all his works in this compact volume:

Passing Time in the Loo: Shakespeare – Summaries of Shakespeare’s Greatest Sonnets and Plays (Comedies, Tragedies, Histories) (Passing Time in the Loo: … Glimpse Of His World And Greatest Plays)

Read Summary of Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Summary of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Spd Rdng = State + Purpose + Download + pReview + Detail + Notes + Gist

Spd Rdng = State + Purpose + Download + pReview + Detail + Notes + Gist


• Get in a good state for reading. Take a deep breath. Smile and open your peripheral vision – so you can take in more information at one time
Change your mindset from reading to information gathering. Don’t worry about how many books you’ve read (you can do the 5-minute preview) – just look for information you need now (eg to prepare for a lecture or seminar, or to write an essay).
• Speed up your brain and eyes. Sit back from the text and look through it much faster than you can consciously comprehend – follow your finger with your eyes. After a few pages when you begin to see words and phrases, you are ready to start reading ‘at your best comprehension speed’. 

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Rhizomapping, Rhizomaps, Rhizomatic Learning, Mindmapping – New ways to take and make notes and learn more effectively with mindmapping and rhizomapping – Speed reading tip 17: Take notes with mindmaps and rhizomaps

Rhizomapping, Rhizomaps, Rhizomatic Learning – New ways to take and make notes and learn more effectively with mindmapping and rhizomapping – Speed reading tip 17:  Take notes with mindmaps and rhizomaps

Speed reading technique 17:  Take notes with mindmaps and rhizomaps

Summary Taking notes is the first step to fixing information in your memory. Mindmaps and rhizomaps are more memorable and lead to greater creativity than linear notes. If you’re away from your desk, then write notes (on post-its) in your book.

A tried and tested way of helping you remember what you read is to take notes. It engages your mind which makes it easier to take in information – you have to think critically to decide which notes to write. Noting which ideas are important to you helps fix them in your brain – and therefore helps you remember them. Also the physical act of writing itself helps form memories, since it brings into play additional parts of the brain and helps embody the information.

Difference between Mindmaps & Rhizomaps

Difference between Mindmaps & Rhizomaps

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Get in a good state for reading and learning – Speed Reading Technique #14  

Get in a good state for reading and learning – Speed Reading Technique #14  

Micro-summary: Having a relaxed, alert, questioning, purposeful mind is the ideal state for reading if you want to understand and remember information. Many of the other spd rdng techniques are also designed to get your mind and body in an optimal state for reading.

Get into a good state for reading

Get into a good state for reading and get engaged in it

The optimal state for understanding and taking in information is to be alert, relaxed, positive, purposeful and questioning and many of the techniques in our 200-page speed reading book are about getting into a good state for reading: Continue reading

War and Peace – Book & Plot Summary – Read in 5 minutes

If you’re watching BBC One drama War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and want to get a quick overview or summary of the plot (to enjoy it more as research suggests), here it is 587,287 words of the book summarised in just 1,945 words (which is 0.33% of the total book which means you can read this summary in about 5-10 minutes as opposed to an average of 32 hours for the whole book):

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by Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)

Type of work Epic and romantic Russian novel
Setting Russia; the Napoleonic Era
Principal characters
Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, a cynical, intellectual soldier-prince
Pierre Bezuhov, a sensitive nobleman and seeker of truth
Natasha Rostov, Pierre’s beautiful and well-to-do lover
Nikolay Rostov, a soldier, Natasha’s older brother
Sonya, a relative of the Rostovs who falls in love with Nikolay
Anatole Kuragin, a womanizing, high-ranking officer

Tolstoy’s purpose in writing his 1600-page War and Peace was to present a historical account of the French invasion of Russia and also to provide himself a forum for his own intellectual and spiritual insights and theories. He accomplishes this through the characters’ searches for identity as well as in the volume’s two extensive epilogues. 

Tolstoy fought in the Crimean War, adding to the realism of his accounts of the Napoleonic struggle. Soon after, he experienced a religious conversion, gave up all his material wealth, and lived out his remaining days in the simple life of a peasant.

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The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts by Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind – Summary of the book

The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts by Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind – Summary of the book in video format

If speed reading there are many ways to get the information in – usually from books but videos and audio presentations are valid ways of getting useful information (TED is a good example). If you don’t want to read the book (Kindle suggests that most non-speed readers will take 7 hours and 14 minutes to read this 362-page book) The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts by Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind watch this presentation (1 hour and 28 minutes – so you’re saving almost 6 hours) for Oxford Martin School and the University of Oxford where they explain the key concepts behind their book.
One-line summary: whatever your profession is – it may not be safe – it can be automated, done by an algorithm or computers much better in the near future. Read about How computers are writing books, articles and PhDs

Get the overview before the details (with timelines) – Speed Reading Technique number 25

Get the overview before the details – with timelines – Speed Reading Technique number 25

Timeline A Visual History of Our WorldWhen learning a new subject, make sure you understand the overview, the big picture, before you look at the details. Since most books are written sequentially (ie detail following detail), this usually means starting by previewing and looking at chapter and section headings and first and last chapters for a general understanding. Syntopic processing is excellent for getting an overview of a new subject.

This technique is the key to getting a good purpose (spd rdng tech 4) and can make the difference between success and failure when putting other techniques into practice. When you are learning something new, the brain learns most easily if it starts by getting an overall picture of what the subject is about before you go into detail.

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Books that changed my life and inspired me (Jan Cisek)

Why I read, speed read and spd rdng?

Many successful people are avid readers and speed readers such as Bill Gates who releases an annual list of his favourite books every year or  Barack Obama who said that reading helped him survive his two terms as President.

Over the years many books and authors have inspired me and changed the course of my life (thousands and thousands of books – I’ve lost count). I read for knowledge and wisdom as well as for pleasure (I am a bookaholic). The key difference between knowledge and wisdom is that wisdom has better longevity and is possibly timeless as opposed to knowledge which as has an expiration date or if you like, it’s updated all the time. ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ (prevention is better than cure) was relevant 100 years ago and probably will be relevant 100 years from now. On the other hand, human understanding that the Earth was flat didn’t last long. Also, as an expert in some fields, I read for difference and new information, since difference gives me new learning, as opposed to reading for sameness which only increases my understanding and confirms what I already know. Some books have transformed my life to a new level and some books only clarified my existing life and made it better. We need both: understanding (repetition, sameness) and learning (difference, new). For example, Zen transformed my life because as a child and teenager I had no idea about such a domain and it expanded and increased my consciousness and my freedom as well as boosted my creativity. Books by Gilles Deleuze have transformed my life by making me a better thinker. On the other hand, books by Yuval Noah Harari clarified and confirmed my existing understanding – in a better, more concise way. (When I just mention authors, I’ve read all their books and books about their books as well – I did mention I’m a bookaholic, right?)

My timeless books list

I’m speed reading some of these timeless (for me) books, from time to time – not all the way through, just thin-slicing some of them again.

Fairy Tales by Grimm Brothers and any other fairy tales (when I was a child)

Sherlock Holmes (When I was a child 8-11, Sherlock was my mentor and teacher training me in deductive thinking. Mastermind by Maria Konnikova is the book about that kind of thinking if you want to think like Sherlock Holmes which I highly recommend.)

Teoria i metodyka ćwiczeń relaksowo-koncentracyjnych / Theory and Methodology of Relaxation-concentration Exercises compilation by Wiesław Romanowski (this was my first book on personal development I read when I was about 11 and it’s about the importance of relaxation as a way of dealing with stress and about meditation, autogenic training and Zen)

“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”
J.K. Rowling

Cybernetyka i charakter (Cybernetics and Character) by Prof Marian Mazur (This book I read several times when I was 14 and didn’t understand it, because I haven’t developed my mathematical intelligence enough but when I picked this book again when I was 15, I got it immediately. It’s about systems thinking and neurofeedback and presents a cybernetic theory of human character. The key argument is that our ‘character’ (not to be confused with the psychological term ‘personality’ relating to symptoms of human behaviour, not its source) cannot be changed by compulsion or persuasion or even self-persuasion. Therefore, in order to establish conformity between one’s character and one’s situation the only possibility (according to cybernetics) is to change the situation or environment, not the character, which is now been confirmed by genetics. Prof Mazur was nominated for the Nobel prize for his work and that’s why I got interested in this discipline at that young age.)

Poe, Musil, Kafka (from the age of 12 to 15 I was reading lots of literature by Franz Kafka, Robert Musil, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and similar)

Huna by Max Freedom Long (At 14 I was reading everything that was mind-expanding, extraordinary and about unlimited human potential. Huna was very trendy at that time in Poland.)

Introduction to Zen Buddhism by DT Suzuki (when I was 17, this book enlightened me to spirituality beyond Catholic religion)
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Talk about what you read – to remember – Spd Rdng Technique number 19

Talk about what you read – to remember – Spd Rdng Technique number 19

Summary: Talking about what you read helps crystallise your understandings in your mind – which is the first step to remembering. Do it twice:
1) as you read, summarise the information to yourself – it keeps you actively engaged.
2) after reading, tell someone what you’ve read – it helps you understand and remember it better.

Talk to somebody to remember Spd Rdng 19

Talk to somebody to remember

 Although reading is traditionally viewed as a passive activity, it is important to engage with the material if you want to learn and remember things from it. Verbalising is an important part of clarifying, consolidating and retaining information you read.

Research is now backing up what we’ve been teaching for over 14 years
Canadian researchers (Alexis Lafleur and Victor Boucher)suggest that those who talk to themselves or others may have better memories than those who don’t. So if you want to remember something talk to yourself our loud or share it with others. Professor Victor Boucher of the University of Montreal in Quebec states that by increasing the number of aspects to the information (i.e. the effort of talking and moving lips) we make it more memorable. This links to the speed reading technique number 16 (remember by doing something) which states that the more things you do to remember information the more likely you will recall it later. The research paper (The ecology of self-monitoring effects on memory of verbal productions: Does speaking to someone make a difference?) published in the Journal of Consciousness and Cognition states: “The simple fact of articulating without making a sound creates a sensorimotor link that increases our ability to remember, but if it is related to the functionality of speech, we remember even more. The added effect of talking to someone shows that in addition to the sensorimotor aspects related to verbal expression, the brain refers to the multisensory information associated with the communication episode.”

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Summary of The Brand Flip: Why customers now run companies and how to profit from it by Marty Neumeier

Summary of The Brand Flip: Why customers now run companies and how to profit from it by Marty Neumeier

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Branding is evolving. Marty Neumeier’s new book (and previous ones) is a good testament of that. Marty starts with acknowledging (like all good writers) the function of any factual book – that is to communicate ideas in the most profound, efficient and direct way. To read The Brand Flip, using traditional reading methods, will take you about two hours to get the key messages. Unless you start at the end and read the key messages first – which is always a good idea to prime and give your mind a big picture – you can finish it in about 20 minutes. Read those key messages below. I do recommend going through the whole book though. If you’re new to branding, you’ll get a good understanding of how branding evolved over the last century and what branding is and isn’t. There are practical branding tips – for example, how much your logo is worth (a price of a good car – but you need to decide what kind of car). If you think branding doesn’t apply to your life, think again. We are all personal brands now and social media platforms are our market places.

“Any effort to get customers is marketing. Any effort to KEEP THEM is branding.”

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Top 10 Most Read Books in The World

Top 10 most read books in the world

Top 10 most read books in the world

Top 10 Most Read Books in The World are: The Holy Bible, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, Harry Potter, The Lord of The Rings, The Alchemist, The Da Vinci Code, The Night Saga, Gone with the Wind, Think and Grow Rich, and The Diary of Anne Frank (according to writer James Chapman who created a list of the most read books in the world based on the number of copies each book sold over the last 50 years.). Read about more top bestsellers

Top 10 Most Read Books in The World
1) The Bible – 3.9 Billion Copies
2) Quotations from the Works of Mao Tse-tung – 820 Million Copies
3) Harry Potter – 400 Million Copies
4) Lord of the Rings – 103 Million Copies
5) The Alchemist – 65 Million Copies
6) The Da Vinci Code – 57 Million Copies
7) Twilight – The Saga – 43 Million Copies
8) Gone With the Wind – 33 Million Copies
9) Think and Grow Rich – 30 Million Copies
10) Diary of Anne Frank – 27 Million Copies

Learn how to speed read so you can read all the books you want to read in half of the time or less.

Spd Rdng – The Speed Reading Bible – Speed Reading Techniques, Tips & Strategies For Ultra Fast Reading
by Susan Norman and Jan Cisek available as an ebook on Amazon Kindle  £6.99

Summary of Spd Rdng – The Speed Reading Bible on Amazon Kindle £1.99

Paperback version of Spd Rdng – The Speed Reading Bible is also available.

Direct, implicit learning

Download several books containing strategies for a physical skill you wish to acquire (eg improve golf swing) or information for a specific purpose (eg quiz night). Continue with your normal activities (playing golf, taking part in the quiz) and notice improvements.

“When you sell a man a book you don’t sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life.” Christopher Morley, Writer

Direct learning means downloading books to gain specific skills or results without doing anything to bring the information to conscious awareness. It relies on the power of the non-conscious mind to recognise and implement the information or skill you need without the intervention of the conscious mind. Savant syndrome is a good example of how some individuals use direct learning.

HOW TO do it

  • Identify the skill you want to improve. Set that as your purpose, eg “To have a strong tennis backhand.” “To make better decisions at work.”
  • Close your eyes and visualise yourself with the desired outcome (this helps clarify your purpose – and means you’ll know when you’ve achieved it).
  • Preview several books and find the two or three that are most likely to teach you the skill – make sure they give practical instructions and not just theoretical information.
  • Download all the books. (The immediate feeling is that you don’t consciously know anything from the books.)
  • Put the skill into practice without thinking about it, ie carry on with your normal activities involving the skill (play tennis, take part in quizzes)
  • Over time notice improvements

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