The Art of Thin-Slicing: Maximising Getting Knowledge and Wisdom in Minimal Words or Chunks of Info

In the age of information overload, our ability to quickly and effectively extract valuable insights is more crucial than ever. One concept that beautifully captures this skill is “thin-slicing,” a term popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Blink.’ Thin-slicing refers to the art of obtaining as much information as possible with minimal input, and it’s a strategy that can revolutionise the way we read books and approach various aspects of life.

Thin-Slicing and Books
When we pick up a book to gain factual information, our goal should be to minimise the time and effort required to extract the key insights. This is where thin-slicing comes into play. Instead of diving headfirst into every word, we should start by previewing the book. Much like slicing a cake vertically to get a taste without consuming the entire thing, previewing allows us to grasp the essence of a book quickly.

Imagine you’re cutting a cake to discover its flavour. Naturally, you’d opt for a thin, vertical slice. In the same way, when we thin-slice a book, we’re effectively cutting through layers of information to get to the core. This approach not only saves time but also enhances our comprehension.

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Summary of FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury

by Ray Bradbury, Simon & Schuster, New York, N.Y., 1967

Summary of FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury

Summary of FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury

Type of work Science fiction
Setting A city in the future
Principal characters
Guy Montag, a book-burning “fireman”
Mildred, his wife
Captain Beatty, Montag’s supervisor
Faber, an old man – an advocate of books

Story Overview
Returning home from work early one morning, Guy Montag saw a young woman walking toward him. Drawing nearer, he realized that it was his new teenage neighbor, Clarisse, so he stopped and introduced himself. Catching the scent of kerosene on him, she said, “And you must be – the fireman.” Something in her voice troubled Montag. But fireman was a perfectly good profession; both his father and grandfather had been firemen. After all, burning forbidden books and the homes of those who harbored them was a civic service.

Welcome to the age of techno-censorship.

“Is it true,” Clarisse asked, “that long ago firemen put fires out instead of going to start them?” No, Guy answered. Then she stared at the “451” stitched on his char-colored sleeve. 451: the temperature at which books burn.

Clarisse was a strange girl, Guy decided. She admitted to rarely watching the 3-D television “parlor walls.” And she asked unexpected questions. “Are you happy?” she shot at Guy as he turned to take his leave.

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Timeline of Key Developments in Speed Reading and Future Predictions

1879: William James publishes “The Principles of Psychology,” introducing the concept of rapid reading and the importance of efficient eye movements.

1898: Émile Coué popularizes the use of self-hypnosis and suggestion for improving reading speed and comprehension.

1950s: Evelyn Wood develops the Wood Method, emphasizing the elimination of subvocalization (pronouncing words internally while reading) to increase reading speed.

1960s: Walter B. Pitkin introduces the concept of “mental reading” and advocates for skimming and scanning techniques to enhance reading speed.

1971: Dr. Paul G. Pimsleur publishes “The Pimsleur Language Aptitude Battery,” highlighting the correlation between reading speed and comprehension.

1978: Tony Buzan introduces the concept of Mind Mapping, a visual learning technique that promotes faster reading and information absorption.

1980s: PhotoReading, a method developed by Paul R. Scheele, combines relaxation techniques and visual perception to increase reading speed and memory retention.

1992: Howard Berg sets the Guinness World Record as the fastest reader, with a reported reading speed of over 25,000 words per minute.

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Shortcuts to Spd Rdng (Speed reading) at NLP conference 2023

We’re presenting at the NLP conference: Saturday, 20 May 2023, 15:30-17:00, ONLINE




Not enough time to get through all the NLP books? Or any books?

‘Shortcuts to speed reading’ gives you techniques and strategies to read much faster, and more importantly process loads more relevant information.

During the presentation we’ll guide you through how to double or triple your reading rate, and how to take the relevant information from at least four NLP (or other) books in the time it would currently take you to read one.

Learning outcomes…

Double or triple your reading rate, and how to take the relevant information from at least four NLP (or other) books in the time it would currently take you to read one.

Book NLP conference: Saturday, 20 May 2023, 15:30-17:00, ONLINE

Summary of Psycho-cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, MD, Simon and Schuster, 1960

Psycho-cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, MD, Simon and Schuster, 1960

Doctor Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon, noticed that most of his patients who underwent surgery to correct a major defect experienced an accompanying rise in self-esteem. However, in some cases the patient continued to have feelings of inferiority. This phenomenon led Maltz to conclude that changed physical image was not the only key to the changes he saw in personality. He felt the need to treat the whole patient rather than just the defective part that required his surgical skills.

While struggling with these ideas, Dr Maltz became interested in cybernetics. Cybernetics is based on “teleology” – the study of purpose or design – and deals with the goal-striving behavior of mechanical systems. Cybernetics attempts to explain the necessary steps of mechanical processes; to find mechanical analogies that can also be applied to humans. Scientific evidence shows that the brain and nervous system operate harmoniously in a purposeful manner, much like the components of a complex machine. Of course, man is not a machine – but he has and uses the ultimate machine: his brain.

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Summary of Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Summary of Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Summaries of William Shakespeare

Summaries of William Shakespeare

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Tragic fatalistic drama

11th century Scotland

 A noble Scottish chieftain
Lady Macbeth His wife
Banquo Macbeth’s warrior-friend
Fleance Banquo’s son
Duncan King of Scotland, a gentle and perfect ruler
Macduff A rebel lord
Three Witches 

On a stormy night, Scottish armies managed to suppress a rebellion, largely through the valor of two noblemen, Macbeth and Banquo. They also had frustrated a Viking invasion that had received assistance from a prominent Scotsman, the Thane of Cawdor. When news of these two events reached Duncan, King of Scotland, he was delighted with Macbeth’s performance, but insisted that Cawdor’s treason warranted his death. Accordingly, the king declared that Cawdor be executed and that Macbeth be named in his stead, Thane of Cawdor.

Meanwhile, Macbeth and Banquo, on their way home from war, happened upon a trio of witches – hags stirring a blackened caldron and heralding Macbeth’s arrival: “Double, Double, toil and trouble.” The witches astonished the pair by prophesying that Macbeth would become first, the new Thane of Cawdor, and then, King of Scotland; and that Banquo would become the father of kings. Then the dark hags vanished, leaving Banquo and Macbeth to speculate over these strange prophecies.

“Double, Double,
toil and trouble.”

No sooner had the witches departed than two of the king’s messengers arrived with news that Macbeth had indeed been named to replace the deposed Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth was amazed to see the first of the witches’ prophecies so quickly fulfilled, and began to believe in the ultimate fulfillment of the second. If he could be Thane of Cawdor, perhaps he could rule all of Scotland as well. This innocent belief quickly expanded into a deep-seated ambition, which began to taint Macbeth’s mind with dark thoughts: Would the prophecy fulfill itself, or would he have to take action to usurp the throne? Since Duncan was king, would not one of his two sons follow him in ruling Scotland? All this time, Banquo resisted any thoughts of hastening the witches’ prophecy that his children would be kings, but could sense the unrest stirring inside the soul of his fellow officer.

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Does the bionic reading app work? Speed reading apps – do they work?

Does the bionic reading app really help with reading?

Is there an effective speed reading app out there? 

We have not yet found an app that we can recommend to help speed up reading. The most important thing is getting what you need from a text – and understanding it. The apps we’ve found so far are mechanistic and work with words rather than meaning and comprehension. We’ve discussed speed reading apps before and fonts that might help you read faster. Hopefully, in the future, AI will be able to analyse text and help you focus on meaningful keywords and keyphrases that could potentially help with faster and more effective reading, with increased comprehension.

Bionic reading app

Does the bionic reading app work?

Our recent find app for reading Bionic Reading (developed by Swiss typographic designer Renato Casutt) helps you focus on the beginnings of words with the aim of speeding up you’re reading. It’s true that as soon as you’ve understood the word you can move on quickly. With novels, for example, I usually recognise the characters by the first letter of their name, so it’s really annoying when two names start with the same letter, or worse when two characters have the same name (although that happens more in real life than in fiction). But as soon as you’ve understood where a phrase or sentence is going, move on. More importantly, when you’ve understood where a paragraph or page is heading, move on too.
     If you really don’t know how to focus on the first letters of a word, then sign up for the free trial of this app or try the bionic reading text convertor. The app has some limited settings that allow for some options such as increasing and decreasing the number of the first letters, fonts and layout settings. The option to decrease the number of bolded letters is useful because you can eliminate less necessary grammar words such as ‘a’. And as soon as you’ve got the benefit of that skill, move on to many other small skills which can help you.

Research on the bionic reading app

According to a Guardian article, “Casutt says he has overseen a study involving 12 readers who were asked to read a text in bionic and ordinary text like what you’re reading now. Casutt concedes that the results from his tests are not clear but claims most subjects reported that bionic had a positive effect on reading (whereas a minority reported feeling “disturbed”).

Limitations of the bionic reading app

The app highlights/bolds the letters of all words, not just the meaningful ones which makes the app not that useful from the speed reading mindset. Without using this app, start focusing on the words that carry most of the meaning (nouns and verbs) and ignoring most of the smaller grammatical words, such as ‘a, the, is’, etc (while still being aware of words such as ’not’ which completely change the meaning).
     For example, “The man was standing on the corner of the street.” is how your mind and eyes need to speed read text focusing on important keywords, nouns and verbs such as ‘man’, ‘standing’, ‘corner’, ‘street’ in this sentence. The bionic reading app would make you focus like this: The man was standing on the corner of the street.” The little grammar words (the, was, on the, of, the), which your eyes will notice, are not essential to the understanding of this sentence ie “The man was standing on the corner of the street.” because your mind will get the meaning from just: man – standing – corner – street.

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Summary of How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

Summary of How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

Summary of How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

Summary of How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

“How to Read a Book” by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren is a classic guide on the art of reading. It not only explains why reading is important but also provides techniques for deriving the most value from the written word.

1. The levels of reading
• Elementary Reading: Basic ability to read the written word, typically taught in elementary schools.
• Inspectional Reading: Skimming or superficial reading. The aim is to get the most out of a book within a limited time frame.
• Analytical Reading: A more thorough and systematic way of reading. The goal is to truly understand the content, arguments, and structure of the book.
• Syntopical Reading: Reading multiple books on the same topic and comparing them. This is the most complex reading level, requiring the reader to construct an analysis that might not be present in any of the books. We call it syntopic processing

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Home Schooling – making texts fun with speed reading

The brain learns more easily when it’s having fun. So if you’ve got ‘texts for comprehension’ or texts which give you information about a subject, there are numerous things you can do in a home-schooling environment other than ‘read the text and answer the questions’.* The following work for all texts and all ages. Start by photocopying the text – and making sure you keep the original for checking.

Speed reading for kids

Speed reading for kids

Chop it up
Chop the text into chunks (cutting between lines of text) for children to put in the right order. They have to understand the content in order to make sense of it, and also understand a bit about how sentences are constructed. The more pieces, the more difficult the task. So if the text is worth more than a glance, start with fewer pieces, then cut those in half – and then in half again, until it’s every line (or until it stops being fun).

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The Booksellers movie directed by D.W. Young

Antiquarian booksellers are part scholar, part detective and part businessperson, and their personalities and knowledge are as broad as the material they handle. They also play an underappreciated yet essential role in preserving history. THE BOOKSELLERS takes viewers inside their small but fascinating world, populated by an assortment of obsessives, intellects, eccentrics and dreamers.

Watch The Booksellers movie at home

My favourite bookshops

Children’s reading and how to teach a child to read faster and speed reading

Children’s reading and how to teach a child to read faster and speed reading

We are frequently asked the questions: ‘Do the spd rdng techniques apply to children? And ‘At what age should they start?’ The answers depend on the mental rather than chronological age of each child, but generally we recommend the following.

Start spd rdng techniques aged 15+ The spd rdng system explained in this book is designed for adults. We recommend that young people start using the techniques after they’ve had some experience of reading conventionally and when they need to be more efficient. This is probably aged about 15+, at a time when they need to read more for self-directed study rather than (or as well as) for pleasure.

Speed reading for kids

Speed reading for kids

Aged 5-15 Read a lot, for pleasure. Before that the age of 15, there is much to be gained from reading more slowly – you build up vocabulary, learn how sentences are structured, understand how stories develop. So the best thing children can do is to read as much as possible – of anything which interests them. It doesn’t matter whether that’s stories, football, factual information or comics. The parents’ main job is to offer them books by authors they might not otherwise come across by themselves. But the worst thing you can do is turn children off reading by making it a boring chore. Foster a love of reading in any way you can – read yourself (this is especially important for boys: they need to see men – their father or other relatives – getting pleasure from reading), talk about books you’ve read, and keep books available for them to ‘discover’ by themselves.

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Advanced NLP Meta-programs to model and decode Jan Cisek’s super-duper speed reading strategies, techniques and skills. Part 2.

Some time ago (2009), Tom O’Connor (of NLP TIMES) did an NLP meta-program modelling on my speed reading strategies. You can read it here: NLP Meta-Programs and Speed Reading / Spd Rdng Part 1

Obviously, I’ve been fine-tuning my speed reading skills to a much higher level since then. Hence this blog where we’re going to crack it for you so you don’t have to. This time, Tom asked me a few, high voltage questions to get his speed reading skills to my super-duper speed reading level.

Firstly, if you’re new to speed reading, since 2009, I’ve probably speed read at least 12 000 books and texts. I’m not saying that to impress you (not at all) – but to impress upon you – that you can too with some basic speed reading skills, strategies and skills (that you can learn from our speed reading books and speed reading courses). It might seem a lot – 1000+ books/year (not for me), if you’re an average reader (who reads less than 55 books/year ie one book/week, which should be the minimum – you should aim at, at least 1 book/day in 20-minute speed reading session = 365 books/year). Actually, research suggests that in the UK, only 41% of the population reads more than 15 books/year.

Here are the general principles to Tom’s NLP modelling questions… (all his questions are at the end of the blog with my specific answers)

Top super-duper speed reading tips (mostly for factual books)

• Read more – anything

And most people do read more now, without realising it – any reading counts, even signs, cornflake packaging and restaurants’ menus. The more you read, the bigger your schema (your total knowledge, wisdom, etc) in your mind/brain. For the record, I don’t read lots of novels – probably half a dozen/year. I used to though, and I highly recommend reading novels, ‘slowly’ for pleasure and fun or to kill time, which research confirms will help you build your emotional intelligence, resilience and survival skills. Books are tools of recognition – a way of recognising where you are as a human being. The word ‘reading’ is an interesting one – you read to understand the text and you’re doing ‘reading’ on the text ie through your own interpretive modes of perception. Read more is speed reading technique #36 in our Spd Rdng System.

Also, recognise that you already have some speed reading skills such as speed-reading newspapers, using a dictionary and searching the Internet.

Speed read hundreds of books a year

Speed read hundreds of books a year

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Speed Reading for Study: Speed reading techniques tips and strategies for studying fast and passing exams

Speed Reading for Study

Speed Reading for Study – Get it on Kindle NOW

The term ‘Speed Reading’ means ‘reading fast’, and it can encompass various techniques people use in order to read faster than traditional slow reading. We (Susan and Jan) have developed a system which includes many additional strategies and techniques, specifically for focusing on getting the information you need from a text. Often the person who knows all the shortcuts will reach the destination before the person who has the fastest car. We call our system SpdRdng, and that’s what we’re sharing with you in this book. For ease of reading, however, we refer to ‘speed reading’ throughout.

This book gives you lots of speed reading techniques, strategies, and tips, and shows you how to use them individually – and in combination – for stress-free, successful studies. If you follow the instructions, you should at least double your reading speed and be getting 10 times more information from your reading, thereby saving lots of time which you can use for relaxing, or for working more to get higher grades. The speed reading techniques will help you remember more too – so you’ll be learning quickly and easily.

You’ll learn the techniques more quickly if you try them out as soon as possible – with either digital or paper texts. We show you immediately how to apply them to study more effectively (because the techniques work) and more efficiently (so you save time).

We’d like you to put our first tip into practice right away. The tip is:
Overview before detail – see the big picture

Speed Reading for Study: Speed reading techniques tips and strategies for studying fast and passing exams is available on Kindle


Great study guide for students and anyone who needs to pass exams, etc
I am a student mentor and I’ve used successfully the workbook The Speed Reading Bible by the same authors. Speed Reading for Study is a shorter ebook and therefore quicker to use. It took me less than 15 minutes to go through this ebook and get lots of very useful and practical tips for studying faster, writing essays, preparing for lectures, background reading and preparing for exams and passing them successfully. (actually, you can get through this ebook in 5 minutes just by reading the top tips). The syntopic processing technique for gathering info for essays is just brilliant. Highly recommended and very good value for money.” Bozena Latek,  Five star review from Amazon Kindle

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Self-help Books. How to Be fine: What We Learned from Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books by Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer

How to Be fine- What We Learned from Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books

How to Be fine- What We Learned from Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books

How many self-help books have you read? How much of their advice have you actually put into practice? Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer have just saved us the price of at least 50 self-help books by publishing their own book How to Be fine: What We Learned from Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books (pub William Morrow).

We recommend that wherever possible you read summaries to get a good overview of what the text or subject is about. So we were attracted by what is effectively a summary.

And here’s a summary of their summary:

  • ignore the books that tell you to want the life the author has – it’s about them, not you
  • ignore books that make you feel bad or implies you’re to blame
  • ignore books that give you ‘the secret to being happy all the time’ – life is way more complex and interesting than a single emotion
  • be open to finding out new things about yourself – lots of books can be helpful, even if not in the way the author planned
  • you are the judge of what’s best for you – choose the books you want to read

Our message about self-help books is that previewing a book (flicking through it for 2-5 minutes to find out what it’s about) can make sure you choose the right book according to those (or your own) criteria (and that it could also have given you the summary above). Once you’ve found the right book then the best way of getting the information is to give yourself 20 minutes to find and write down 6 things from the book you will actually put into practice.

Self-help is much easier and more effective if you speed read with a clear purpose.

Font for people with dyslexia. Font for dyslexics. EasyReading Font.

EasyReading Font

EasyReading Font

EasyReading font, designed by Federico Alfonsetti, from Turin, is the font explicitly “dedicated” to dyslexic readers. Independent scientific researches confirmed positive results. 10% of the population has some form of dyslexia which can affect their ability to decipher written information. My guess is, if EasyReading font helps people with dyslexia then it might be good for the rest of the population.

Other font designers tired to help people make reading easy on the eye. For example, on Kindle, you can choose OpenDyslexic font to speed read your ebooks. My criticism of OpenDyslexic font is that they got the bold emphasis on the bottom part of the font wrong since we know that the upper parts of the font have more visual cues, so the bolding would work better on the upper part of the font for legibility and readability.

The results, which appear significant from both the statistical as well as clinical point of view, allow us to affirm that EasyReading can be considered a valid compensatory tool for readers with dyslexia and a facilitating font for all categories of readers”. The research was published in the scientific journal “Dyslexia. Italian Journal of clinical and applied research” (no. 2/2013), Published by Centro Studi Erickson, Trento

Try EasyReading font (free to download for personal use)

Summary of Radical Uncertainty: Decision-making for an Unknowable Future by John Kay and Marvin King

Summary of Radical Uncertainty- Decision-making for an Unknowable Future by John Kay and Marvin King

Summary of Radical Uncertainty- Decision-making for an Unknowable Future by John Kay and Marvin King

Times of radical uncertainty require a book
From John Kay (an economic professor) and Marvin King (the governor of the Bank of England), the authors of the classic handbook, The British Tax System comes an interesting and timely book with useful reminders mostly about the financial domain which can be generalised to other domains. If you might get overwhelmed by the page count (544 pages = 10 hours and 53 minutes of non-speed-reading reading) I’ve boiled it down for you to this short and practical summary on how to make decisions (their simple strategy might surprise you so if you’re already a speed reader, you know where to start getting the key message of this summary ie at the end).

What is radical uncertainty?
Firstly, what’s ‘radical uncertainty’? The authors make a distinction between ‘reservable uncertainty’ and ‘radical uncertainty’. For ‘reservable uncertainty’ there is usually a simple solution that exists somewhere ie you can look it up. For example, if you’re uncertain what’s the capital of Estonia, you can check it easily. Or you can use known probability distribution outcome for the spin of a roulette wheel.

For ‘radical uncertainty’ there is no way of resolving the problem. In short, there, the correct answer is ‘don’t know’. There are many aspects of ‘radical uncertainty’ such as vagueness, ambiguity, ignorance, obscurity, ill-defined issues and most of all the lack of information. It’s classical, “unknown unknowns” coined by Donald Rumsfeld, the United States Secretary of Defense who famously said, “there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

Another example of radical uncertainty is ‘black swans’ coined by Nicholas Taleb in his book with the same title.

“We see, but through a glass, darkly.”
Basically, what they mean by the above statement is that forecasting is difficult, even with all the available knowledge of probabilistic reasoning because of the state of being uncertain which is “not able to be relied on, not known or definite” (the Oxford Dictionary definition). When it comes to decision-making strategies, there is no general theory on how to do it best. The existing literature on decision-making frames it in terms of a puzzle-solving which is fine for puzzle-type decisions but when it comes to mystery-type questions there is little research. They suggest that a good place to start for mystery-type decisions is creativity which is inseparable from uncertainty. Examples of that approach include Sumerians who invented the wheel, Einstein who imagined riding on a beam of light, Steve Jobs thinking differently, Frank Knight and John Maynard Keynes emphasising the significance of radical uncertainty in the financial domain.

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Bill Gates ‘speed’ reading strategies. How Bill Gates reads 50 books/year.

Bill Gates reads about 50 books a year, which comes to about one book a week. That makes him a very good reader compared to other readers (but not speed readers). People in the UK read an average of 10 books/year (with women reading about 12 books/year, and men reading an average of 8 books/year).

With spd rdng you can easily speed read a book a day which will amount to 365 books a year – and will make you a good speed reader.

Watch Bill Gates talking about his four (speed) reading strategies. Most of his reading tips are good and speed reading-compliant.

#1 Take notes in the margins 
Top speed readers work actively with books or texts by taking notes, highlighting and making mindmaps or rhizomaps (spd rdng technique #17). If it’s not your book, post-it notes where invented for this reason.

#2 Don’t start what you can’t finish
This one is not exactly a good reading or speed reading strategy. It sounds (I hope I’m not right) like ‘all-or-nothing’ perfectionist mindset, where if he can’t dedicate enough time to make it perfect, he’s not interested. Top speed readers follow 80/20, Pareto principle (spd rdng technique #5). If you can extract 80% of good quality info from 20% of keywords, you don’t have to read everything and definitely you don’t have to finish a book that is not good. And of course, preview books for about 2-5 minutes (spd rdng technique #2) before you commit to working with them (I think, that’s what Bill Gates had in mind). Speed reading is like eating. Sometimes, it’s like having a snack, sometimes like a meal and sometimes like a banquet. And sometimes it’s like eating a slice of cake (thin-slicing principle/technique).

#2 Paper books vs ebooks
It’s up to you and whatever preferences you have. There are pros and cons for paperbacks and ebooks (read about digital speed reading techniques). Three advantages of ebooks are: 1) search function, 2) popular highlights which give you good overviews and key insights and 3) portability – as a speed reader you don’t want to carry 5-10 books per train journey.

#4 Block out an hour
Top speed readers actually work in 20-minutes work sessions (spd rdng technique #18). Most adults can focus easily for 20-minutes and having frequent breaks (spd rdng technique #27) boosts dopamine levels which are important for memory, motivation and concentration as well as success. Parkinson’s law states work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” so setting timeframes and sticking to them (spd rdng technique #23) is highly productive.

Sun Tzu on Speed Reading (the author of The Art of War)

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War has been adapted to many disciplines, apart of military strategy, obviously such as business, management, politics, marketing, logistics planning, strategy, sport, negotiations and conflict resolution, problem-solving and so on and this classic still inspires people with its timeless wisdom.

The Art of War is a classic text attributed to the Chinese general Sun Tzu, who lived about 2,500 years ago.

If war, fighting or military strategy is not your value or metaphor for strategy, reframe it as the art of speed reading or a strategy for solving problems. Replace ‘war’ as the stand-in noun for ….  (For the record, I’m against war and war machine).

A good example of how to read this classic is: The Art of War Visualized: The Sun Tzu Classic in Charts and Graph by Jessica Hagy

Let’s see how we can read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War for speed reading purposes.

“Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted.”
Speed reading: preview books – spend time looking over the book/text to get a general idea of the text; speed read reviews and look for summaries. Do you focus on details before you’ve understood the big picture?

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
Speed reading: use thin-slicing principle – speed read books so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the information overload

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Speed reading: read more, learn more, know more and you can speed read hundreds of books every year

“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”
Speed reading: even the worst book can teach you something, for example, how to choose a better book next time and avoid ‘bad’ books

“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”
Speed reading: use summaries to get through books with easy and speed. According to research, people who read summaries remember more for longer. Summaries are a valid way to get overviews and details.

“To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.”
Speed reading: use downloading/photoreading technique to download books into your ‘non-conscious’ mind and prime yourself with the info

Summary of The Rules of Contagion: Why Things Spread – and Why They Stop by Adam Kucharski

Summary of The Rules of Contagion Why Things Spread - and Why They Stop by Adam Kucharski

Summary of The Rules of Contagion Why Things Spread – and Why They Stop by Adam Kucharski

A timely study on how contagions spread in the world
A timely book on why things, including viruses, spread in the world and how to stop them. Although Adam Kucharski, a mathematician and an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, doesn’t address specifically the coronavirus COVID-19, you’ll learn how to think about pandemics and spread of diseases. And if you’re worried about what modern life has in stock for you, including the coronavirus COVID-19, this books has lots of insights and answers. In short, the book explains how things including ideas, diseases, viral news, folks stories, financial crises, loneliness, crime, obesity, social media and misinformation spread in the world.

The spread of things is influenced by four factors such as
or DOTS for short, says Kucharski. These factors affect the reproduction number or R and allow us to calculate how fast a disease or other things could spread and be stopped from spreading. Reducing one or all four factors will reduce the spread of a virus, for example. So quarantine and self-isolation work because they reduce the ‘opportunities’ factor. But with social media or viral marketing/content or desire to “own the internet” (the title of one of the chapters), you want to push the R factors, not reduce them. Please like this blog via twitter and Facebook below.

What about the coronavirus COVID-19?
The book was written before the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 but published at the critical time (he cracks masterfully chance, risk, decision-making, luck and gambling or watch Adam’s talk below) when we need to know as much as possible how to deal with possible pandemics. In an interview for The Sunday Times paper, he suggests a few things that might minimise your exposure to the virus. Think twice before visiting A&E because “the transmission data shows similarities with the Sars epidemic: there were a lot of super-spreading events around healthcare and hospitals, and we’re seeing that the Covid-19 too. We’re also seeing early indications of a lot of transmission in household settings and gatherings. We’ve found nine or 10 examples, barbecue and that kind of thing, where a large proportion of people there get infected.” In the book, he quotes that on average in the UK, people have five contacts a day (but in Italy, the number is 10/day), so perhaps go for elbow-bumps instead of handshakes and keep buttoned-up British reserve to save us.

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Summary of Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty

Summary of Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty

Summary of Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty

Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty is going to be published in March 2020 (it was published in French in September 2019) but you can get a good overview and summary of the main points by watching Thomas Piketty’s talk about it at LSE in London in February 2020 (he studied at LSE). Speed reading tip: whenever a book is not published yet, search online for talks or video presentations of that book.

Thomas Piketty, the ‘rock star’ of economics, suggests that Capital and Ideology is much better than his previous bestselling book (2.5 million copies) Capital in the Twenty-First Century and it offers lessons from the history as the struggle of ideologies and the quest of justice in inequality. In his previous book, he suggests a historical mechanism of why inequality increases over time: R>G ie return is greater than growth, therefore wealth grows faster than income resulting in more inequality. In Capital and Ideology, he argues that inequality is a moral and illegitimate issue and asks if inequality isn’t justified, why not change it. “Every human society must justify its inequalities; unless reasons for them are found, the whole political and social edifice stands in danger of collapse.” he writes and continues “A just society organises socioeconomic relations, property rights and the distribution of income and wealth in such a way as to allow its least advantaged members to enjoy the highest possible life conditions”.

From our accelerated learning perspective, the most interesting aspect is his take on education which is key for any national growth. We believe that speed reading is everyone’s right but unfortunately it is not taught at schools at an early age. Piketty suggests that societal inequality stems from lack of education or highly unequal access to education. Educational equality is the biggest factor in economic development, more than property rights, etc he suggests in Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty. (Unfortunately, Thomas Piketty ‘predicts’ that there will be more inequality post-Brexit in the UK.)

The book has four parts. Part One: Inequality Regimes in History, Part Two: Slave and Colonial Societies, Part Three: The Great Transformation of the Twentieth Century, and Part Four: Rethinking the Dimensions of Political Conflict

See the pdf of the slides from Thomas Piketty LSE talk (short version)  and long version

Thomas Piketty talks about Capital and Ideology at LSE in London in February 2020

Capital and Ideology

We are now LIVE with LSE alumnus Professor Thomas Piketty and LSE Director Minouche Shafik discussing his new book ‘Capital and Ideology’.

Posted by The London School of Economics and Political Science – LSE on Thursday, February 6, 2020


Summary of A World Without Work: Technology, Automation and How We Should Respond by Daniel Susskind

How To Thrive in a World Without Work | with Daniel Susskind

Summary of How To Thrive in a World Without Work | with Daniel Susskind

336 pages and Kindle suggests that it would take you 6 hours and 43 minutes to read it in a traditional way (or 20 minutes if you speed read it). Don’t have 7 hours – just watch this 60-minute talk by Daniel Susskind summarising his book A World Without Work: Technology, Automation and How We Should Respond.

If you’re worried that you’ll be out of work in the near future – relax – it might take some time to be free of work (at best, a decade or so at least). But it’s certain that a world without work is already approaching, gradually (you’ll be pleased to know), whether you like it or nor, or understand it or not. Automation, AI, quantum computing and master algorithms will make all work obsolete in the future.

The new AI machines no longer need to reason like us or be modelled on human behaviour in order to outperform us. Already, AI is better at diagnosing illnesses, drafting legal contracts, writing PhDs, navigation and driving cars, etc. For example, AI can spot loopholes in contracts in just 26 seconds and with 94% accuracy compared to humans who take 93 minutes with 85% accuracy. There goes the whole profession. So if you’ve got a meaningful job/career/vocation – enjoy it while it lasts.

Key ideas:
• In times of radical uncertainty – flexibility and career adaptation are key.
• You have to evolve and educate yourself. You won’t be able to leave education – ever (learn how to learn and speed reading now). It’s not only what and how you learn but also, when. Skills to compete and build things (systems and machines) will be in high demand.
• Technology will surpass humans with AI, patterns recognition, etc.
• In the world without work, work as the source of money and meaning will have to be redefined. If you define yourself by what you do – stop. What you do is NOT who you are.
• It’s going to be more about leisure, not about the world with less work since most people won’t be working. Leisure (virtual or onsite) is going to be the biggest business.
• It will be a better world, more prosperous thanks to technology with the increasing capacity of machines to do amazing things, such as write beautiful music or poetry or design wonderful buildings (which AI already can perform). And it will be a world with more complex challenges such as the distribution of wealth, meaning without work, inequality, basic income (universal or conditional), social-political power, etc, as well as surveillance and privacy issues.
• When? To quote William Gibson (who coined the term ‘cyberspace’), “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”

Watch (How To Academy) Daniel Susskind talk about his book A World Without Work: Technology, Automation and How We Should Respond

Get the ebook A World Without Work: Technology, Automation and How We Should Respond by Daniel Susskind

A World Without Work: Technology, Automation and How We Should Respond by Daniel Susskind is a natural continuation of his previous book The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts by Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind which suggests the same idea ie whatever your profession is – it is not safe – because it will be automated, done by an algorithm, AI or computers much better in the near future.

Why Women Read Fiction: The Stories of Our Lives by Helen Taylor. Questionnaire about Women’s Fiction Reading

Summary of Why Women Read Fiction The Stories of Our Lives by Helen Taylor

Summary of Why Women Read Fiction The Stories of Our Lives by Helen Taylor

Why Women Read Fiction: The Stories of Our Lives by Helen Taylor is available on Kindle

Women are not only great readers, speed readers but also keener buyers of fiction – accounting for 80% of sales of fiction in the UK, US and Canadian. Surveys show that more women than men are literary festivalgoers, library members, audiobook readers, literary bloggers and members of literary societies and evening reading classes. And women teach children to read, both at school and at home and women who set up book clubs. In our speed reading courses though, on average, the ratio is about 50-50.

“When women stop reading, the novel will be dead.” said Ian McEwan when in 2005, he conducted an experiment in parks where he handed out books to strangers. Men rejected them while women gratefully accepted the novels.

“Questionnaire about Women’s Fiction Reading” at the end of the book offers useful insights about your reading preferences, habits and why you read and how.

1. When did you learn to read, who taught you, and what is your earliest memory of reading?
2. Do you recall the children’s books you read, and which remain in your heart?
3. Were you encouraged or taught to read by parents, siblings, teachers, friends? Was your earliest reading teacher male or female?
4. Have your parents, partner(s), children, and friends encouraged and supported your reading habit? Has it sometimes been a secret or illicit pleasure?
5. Did/do you read religious/sacred texts, e.g. the Koran, the Bible? How important are these to you?
6. Do you read poetry, and if so which poets and poems are most special to you?
7. Have you read all your life, or have you had periods when you read little or nothing (perhaps in hard or challenging times)—or just newspapers, comics, magazines, etc.?
8. How has your education formed and influenced your reading—at school, further education college, evening class, university, etc.?
9. Did you read ‘set books’ at school and/or college and do you recall and cherish (or now hate) them? Please give examples.
10. Do you read every day, and if so at what time? Do you read at bedtime, and is that choice of reading matter different from other times of day?
11. Do you buy fiction regularly? At a bookshop or online?

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Summary of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Summary of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Summary of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

A very tiny book written by Charlotte Bronte at the age of 14, a miniature work, called The Young Men’s Magazine, is returning to the UK after being bought by the Bronte Society at auction in Paris. Experts at her museum suggest this section of the story is “a clear precursor” of a famous scene between Bertha and Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre, which Charlotte would publish 17 years later. A part of the Young Men’s Magazine paints a picture of a murderer driven to insanity after being haunted by his victim’s ghost and how “an immense fire” burning in his head causes the bed curtains to catch fire.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855)

Type of work Psychological romance
Setting Northern England; 1800s
Principal characters
Jane Eyre, an orphan girl
Mrs Reed, Jane’s aunt, and mistress of Gateshead Hall
Edward Rochester, once-handsome owner of Thornfield Manor
St John Rivers, a young clergyman

Story overview
Orphaned at birth, Jane Eyre was left to live at Gateshead Hall Manor with her aunt-in-law, Mrs Reed. Jane remained at the estate for ten years, subjected to hard work, mistreatment and fixed hatred.

After a difficult childhood, the shy, petite Jane was sent to Lowood School, a semi-charitable institution for girls. She excelled at Lowood and over the years advanced from pupil to teacher. Then she left Lowood to become the governess of a little girl, Adele, the ward of one Mr Edward Rochester, the stern, middle-aged master of Thornfield Manor.

At Thornfield, Jane was comfortable with life – what with the grand old house, its well-stocked and silent library, her private room, the garden with its many chestnut, oak and thorn trees, it was a veritable palace. Mr Rochester was a princely and heroic master, and, despite his ireful frown and brusque, moody manner, Jane felt at ease in his presence. Rochester confided that Adele was not his own child but the daughter of a Parisian dancer who had deserted her in his care. Still, even with this forthright confession, Jane sensed that there was something Rochester was hiding.

Off and on, Jane heard bizarre, mysterious sounds at Thornfield. She finally discovered that Rochester kept a strange tenant on the third floor of the mansion. This hermit-like woman, once employed by Rochester – or so he said – often laughed maniacally in the night. And other disturbances soon followed.

One evening, after the household had gone to sleep, Jane was roused by the smell of smoke – to find Mr Rochester’s bed on fire. Only with a great deal of exertion did she manage to extinguish the flames and revive her employer.

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Micro Summary of Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

Micro Summary of Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Micro Summary of Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

At first, it looks like Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell lacks a single zeitgeist-defining idea but nevertheless the key discussion is about communications and interactions among strangers at the individual, collective and ideological levels. “Any element which disrupts the equilibrium between two strangers, whether it is alcohol or power or place, become problematic. The book is really about those disruptive influences,” says Malcolm Gladwell.

The underlining concept is taken from Timothy Levine, the US academic who specialises in deception – the truth default theory. Levine suggests that our fundamental instinct to any new information is to believe it because we simply couldn’t function without the default to the truth (belief comes easily; doubt takes effort and time). No communication can proceed without the default to truth. On the other hand, the well-known phenomenon is that far from defaulting to the truth, we tend to believe only the information that fits our preconceived unconscious biases.

Self-help tip from the book: don’t judge people too early; delay your conclusions about other people, especially strangers who can be most likely untypical in their behaviour and difficult to read.

In sum, it looks like people aren’t totally transparent to us. Liars seem honest, spies seem loyal and nervous people can look guilty. Face reading doesn’t seem to be a reliable tool for reading people, as Hamlet put it: one may smile and smile and be a villain: “There is no art / To find the mind’s construction in the face.” This psychological phenomenon is called ‘the illusion of asymmetric insight’ where we tend to consider ourselves opaque to others while thinking that other people are easy to read. The book reminds us that strangers are not easy to read.

BIBLIA SZYBKIEGO CZYTANIA – Szybkie Czytanie – 37 Technik, Wskazówek, Strategii Ultra Szybkiego Czytania (Polish Edition)

Spd Rdng – The Speed Reading Bible translated into Polish now

BIBLIA SZYBKIEGO CZYTANIA – Szybkie Czytanie ¬– 37 Technik, Wskazówek, Strategii Ultra Szybkiego Czytania

BIBLIA SZYBKIEGO CZYTANIA – Szybkie Czytanie ¬– 37 Technik, Wskazówek, Strategii Ultra Szybkiego Czytania

BIBLIA SZYBKIEGO CZYTANIA: niesamowicie łatwa umiejętność szybkiego czytania z potwierdzonym rezultatem do natychmiastowego zastosowania do jakichkolwiek materiałów pisanych (książek, raportów, czasopism, pism fachowych, podręczników, poczty elektronicznej itp.), co pozwoli Ci czytać szybciej i efektywniej bez względu na to, kim jesteś: profesjonalistą, przedsiębiorcą, studentem, nauczycielem, czy osobą zainteresowaną swoim rozwojem intelektualnym w jakiejkolwiek dziedzinie (wliczając biznes, medycynę, prawo, IT, języki). Biblia jednocześnie uczy cię, jak używać skuteczniej narządu wzroku, pamiętać więcej, wykorzystywać lepiej swoją inteligencję minimalnym kosztem, skupiać się na celu, znajdować gorące punkty informacji, a przede wszystkim zastosować zdobytą wiedzę w praktyce, co sprawi, że w rezultacie zaoszczędzisz czas i pieniądze, a także odniesiesz sukces w biznesie i w życiu.

Dostepna na Kindle – BIBLIA SZYBKIEGO CZYTANIA – Szybkie Czytanie – 37 Technik, Wskazówek, Strategii Ultra Szybkiego Czytania

Czytaj BIBLIA SZYBKIEGO CZYTANIA – Szybkie Czytanie – 37 Technik, Wskazówek, Strategii Ultra Szybkiego Czytania

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How to Speed Read 365 books a year (in your spare time)

The average adult in the UK will get through 11 books a year (696 over a lifetime) suggests a poll (OnePoll for eBay UK). But why not 365 books a year. It’s only one book a day. It sounds a lot of books, doesn’t it? Not really, if you apply speed reading techniques. Here’s how to get through 365 books a year – starting from super easy and quick speed reading techniques to more advanced ones.

Warren Buffett was asked about his secret to success. Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said, Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will…

speed reading 365 books:year

speed reading 365 books/year

Easy and fast speed reading techniques
1) Read summaries of the books. Yes, it’s a valid way of getting through books. According to research, people who read summaries remember more for longer. Summaries are a valid way to get overviews and specific details. Most people who read a book from cover to cover, forget 90% after two days! Forgetting rate is huge is you don’t use speed reading techniques. Reading summaries you’ll remember more and for longer. It takes usually a few minutes to read a summary of a book or less than 10 seconds if you’re reading only micro-summaries. Check for collections of summaries here

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Spd Rdng – De Snellees Bijbel Snelleesboek met 37 Technieken, Tips en Strategieën voor Ultrasnel Lezen (Snellezen, Studievaardigheden, Geheugen en Versneld Leren)

Spd Rdng – The Speed Reading Bible translated into Dutch now

Spd Rdng – De Snellees Bijbel

De Snellees Bijbel Snelleesboek met 37 Technieken, Tips en Strategieën voor Ultrasnel Lezen (Snellezen, Studievaardigheden, Geheugen en Versneld Leren)

Dé Bijbel voor snellezen: eenvoudige snelleesvaardigheden met bewezen resultaten die je direct kunt toepassen op elk leesmateriaal (boeken, rapporten, tijdschriften, handleidingen, leerboeken, tekstboeken, online teksten, e-boeken, enz.) zodat je meer, sneller en effectiever kunt lezen, of je nu een professional, een ondernemer, een student of leraar, of gewoon geïnteresseerd bent in jouw eigen leren en persoonlijke ontwikkeling, in elk onderwerp (inclusief zaken, geneeskunde, de wet, IT, acteren en talen), door jou onder andere te laten zien hoe je jouw ogen efficiënter kunt gebruiken, meer kunt onthouden, toegang hebt tot jouw leerintelligentie, betekenis kunt ontlenen aan een minimum aan input, zich op jouw doel kunt focussen, de hotspots van de informatie die je nodig hebt kunt vinden en het allemaal in de praktijk kunt brengen, met als resultaat dat je tijd vrijmaakt en geld bespaart naarmate je succesvoller word in het bedrijfsleven en in het leven algemeen.

Spd Rdng – De Snellees Bijbel Snelleesboek met 37 Technieken, Tips en Strategieën voor Ultrasnel Lezen (Snellezen, Studievaardigheden, Geheugen en Versneld Leren) is available on Kindle now

Read the sample of Spd Rdng – De Snellees Bijbel Snelleesboek met 37 Technieken, Tips en Strategieën voor Ultrasnel Lezen (Snellezen, Studievaardigheden, Geheugen en Versneld Leren) now

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Top Books on Problems Solving, Creativity, Innovation, Design and Decision Making

Finding the right books for getting skills for problem-solving, innovation, creativity, design and decision making can be a daunting task – in the sea of books on these topics. Over the years speed readers coming to my speed reading course have brought hundreds of books that they’ve picked from bookshops and libraries. Here’s a selection of the top books that I and they found useful. The good thing about speed reading is that you can decide very quickly how useful the book is – just by looking at the cover, title, subtitle, TOC (table of contents), index, design of the book and layout as well as just by reading a bit of text to get the style and the depth of the information (this technique for choosing the best books is called ‘Preview‘).

Top books for problems solving and innovation

Become an Inventor- Idea-Generating and Problem-Solving Techniques with Element of TRIZ, SIT, SCAMPER, and More Kindle Edition by Adam Brostow

Become an Inventor- Idea-Generating and Problem-Solving Techniques with Element of TRIZ, SIT, SCAMPER, and More Kindle Edition by Adam Brostow

TRIZ (the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) is a systemic approach for understanding and solving problems and is based on 40 principles of innovation. Most books on TRIZ are good and cover the same 40 principles. Start with
Become an Inventor: Idea-Generating and Problem-Solving Techniques with Element of TRIZ, SIT, SCAMPER, and More Kindle Edition by Adam Brostow

40 TRIZ principles are Segmentation, Taking out, Local quality, Asymmetry, Merging, Universality, ‘Nested doll’, Anti-weight, Preliminary anti-action, Preliminary action, Beforehand cushioning, Equipotentiality, ‘The other way around’, Spheroidality, Dynamics, Partial or excessive actions, Another dimension, Mechanical vibration, Periodic action, Continuity of useful action, Skipping, ‘Blessing in disguise’, Feedback, ‘Intermediary’, Self-service, Copying, Cheap short-living, Mechanics substitution, Pneumatics and hydraulics, Flexible shells and thin films, Porous materials, Colour changes, Homogeneity, Discarding and recovering, Parameter changes, Phase transitions, Thermal expansion, Strong oxidants, Inert atmosphere, Composite material

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Micro-Summary of Out of Our Minds: What We Think and How We Came to Think It by Felipe Fernández-Armesto in ONE WORD

The complete history of human imagination and the book (Out of Our Minds: What We Think and How We Came to Think It by Felipe Fernández-Armesto) summarised in ONE WORD

Summary of Out of Our Minds- What We Think and How We Came to Think It by Felipe Fernández-Armesto

Summary of Out of Our Minds- What We Think and How We Came to Think It by Felipe Fernández-Armesto

The acclaimed historian, Felipe Fernández-Armesto, takes us on a journey through the history of the human imagination, from the dawn of civilization to the advent of social media in his new book Summary of Out of Our Minds: What We Think and How We Came to Think It 

To imagine – to see that which is not there – is the startling ability that has fuelled human development and innovation through the centuries. As a species, we stand alone in our remarkable capacity to refashion the world after the pictures in our minds.

Traversing the realms of science, politics, religion, culture, philosophy and history, Felipe Fernández-Armesto in his latest book, Out of Our Minds: What We Think and How We Came to Think It reveals the thrilling and disquieting tales of our imaginative leaps – from the first Homo sapiens to the pioneers of the digital age. Through ground-breaking insights into cognitive science, he explores how and why we have ideas in the first place, providing a tantalising glimpse into who we are and what we might yet accomplish.

So the micro-summary of  Out of Our Minds: What We Think and How We Came to Think It by Felipe Fernández-Armesto in ONE WORD… is divergence (with an additional word to give a complete picture – keep speed reading…). It takes a genius to capture the history of humanity and where we are going with just one word+. This is the ultimate thin-slicing.

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Summary of 1984 by George Orwell

1984 by George Orwell Summary

1984 by George Orwell Summary

1984 by George Orwell (1903-1950)

Micro-summary: Nineteen Eighty-Four is George Orwell’s’ terrific and terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is a slave to a tyrannical regime under a constant lockdown.

“More relevant to today than almost any other book that you can think of.” Jo Brand, an English comedian, writer, presenter and actress

“Right up there among my favourite books … I read it again and again.” Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale

Published 70 years ago, this seminal classic has every generation captivated, especially in the times of any political, social and global turmoil. Big Brother’s long shadows and the vital defence of truth as well as newspeak, doublethink and thought police – refresh your memory of the past and future with the summary of 1984 by George Orwell. Nineteen Eighty-Four popularised the adjective ‘Orwellian’, connoting things such as official government deception and propaganda, secret surveillance, censorship, lockdown or soft martial law, wartime mythology and nostalgia, fact-free leadership, harmful narratives, myths and frames of social control, creative reading and misreadings, repurposing forces of repression for apparent liberation, hijacking and politicising any crisis and manipulation of statistics by a totalitarian or authoritarian state.

Type of work Futuristic, cautionary novel
Setting London, in the mythical country of Oceania; 1984 (in the future)
Principal characters Winston Smith, a rebel against society, Julia, his lover, Mr Charrington, an elderly antique shop owner, O’Brien, the only member of the Inner Party Winston trusts

Story overview
As Winston Smith entered his apartment building, he passed a familiar poster. “It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.” Then Winston opened the door to his flat to be greeted by a voice on his “telescreen” – a device he could dim, but never shut off completely. Telescreens broadcasted government propaganda and served as the eyes and ears of the Thought Police, who scrutinized everyone for any possible deviation from acceptable thought or action.

In the flat was a tiny alcove just out of sight from the telescreen’s vision. Winston sat down to write in his diary, an act that was not officially illegal, “but if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death. …” While he sat writing, a recent memory stirred in his mind; that day’s “Two Minutes Hate,” a government-sponsored work break in which every worker at the Ministry of Truth was required to participate, had consisted of an interlude when everyone raged and screamed as the telescreen alternately flashed images of enemy Eurasian soldiers and Golstein, an abhorred traitor. That morning, Winston had noticed a “bold-looking girl of about twenty-six” who worked in the Fiction Department. This particular girl – wearing the bright scarlet sash of the official anti-sex league – gave him “the impression of being more dangerous than most,” and Winston had the unnerving feeling that she was watching him.

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Summary of the Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME by Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

Summary of the Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo Victor Hugo

Summary of the Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo Victor Hugo

Type of work Gothic Romance
Setting Paris, France; 1842
Principal characters
16-year-old gypsy girl
Pierre Gringoire, a poet and writer
Claude Frollo, an archdeacon who desires Esmerelda for his own
Phoebus, captain of the guard, loved by Esmeralda

Story Overview
It was the Festival of Fools day in Paris. A boisterous crowd had gathered to witness the performance of a play written by poet Pierre Gringoire – and to choose the Prince of Fools, the title bestowed on the ugliest person in all Paris. Several acts into the play, however, the Parisians grew restless and demanded that the “Prince of Fools” be elected immediately.

To Gringoire’s consternation, the crowd turned its attention from his production to the contestAfter several hideous contestants had shown their faces, one particularly grotesque figure appeared before the judges. His huge head was “covered with red bristles [and] between his shoulders rose an enormous hump.” This candidate had a forked chin and lip from which protruded a tusk, and one eye was covered by a wart. In spite of his deformities, he was surprisingly strong and agile. This hideous creature was unanimously acclaimed Prince of Fools.

“It’s Quasimodo,” the crowd roared, “the bell ringer of Notre Dame.” Placing a jester’s hat on his head, a miter in his hand, and a robe on his rounded back, they paraded him through the streets of the city, singing and playing instruments. Quasimodo was overcome; this was the first time he had ever felt “the gratification of self-love.” Deaf from long years of ringing Notre Dame’s massive bells, he grinned in dignified muteness at the spectacle around him.

The procession paused when the crowd reached a spot where a trained goat danced gracefully to the enchanting sounds of a beautiful young gypsy girl’s tambourine. The girl was named Esmerelda. Suddenly, the Archdeacon Claude Frollo barged through the crowd, snatched the scepter from Quasimodo’s hand, and ripped off the hat and robe. The gathering stood aghast at the Archdeacon’s harsh treatment – yet they knew Quasimodo would submit himself to the master who, many years earlier, had taken in a deformed, unwanted baby left in the foundling box at the gates of the cathedral.

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Summary of Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz

Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz is a 1966 advertising classic and since it’s out of print, the price for this very detailed marketing manual is quite steep, starting from $125 upwards.

Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz

Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz

“The greatest mistake marketers make is trying to create demand.” writes Eugene M. Schwartz
One of the core messages of the book is to capture the attention of the existing audience that is already interested in your product or service. So the market research is key. So not much point wasting time to convince people who don’t want your product/service. Position your product/service to sell it only to those who do want it already.

A scattergun approach is a common mistake of general advertising where advertisers try to appeal and resonate with a broad audience, “so that we get the most interest.” Market research should be focused on understanding and articulating the audience’s “hopes, dreams, fears and desires,” which are emotional hot buttons responsible for purchasing decisions instead of guessing about them all. So exploiting and channelling people’s needs and desires is the purpose of marketing according to Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz.

The key message of the book is contained in this quote:
“Let’s get to the heart of the matter. The power, the force, the overwhelming urge to own that makes advertising work, comes from the market itself, and not from the copy. Copy cannot create desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exists in the hearts of millions of people, and focus those already existing desires onto a particular product. This is the copy writer’s task: not to create this mass desire – but to channel and direct it. Actually, it would be impossible for any one advertiser to spend enough money to actually create this mass desire. He can only exploit it. And he dies when he tried to run against it.”
Eugene M. Schwartz in Breakthrough Advertising

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Our Favourite Bookshops in London and the World

Although I (Jan) purchase most of my books as ebooks, I still visit bookshops and buy p-books (paper books) from time to time. My favourite bookshop in London is Waterstones in Piccadilly which is the biggest bookshop in Europe. It has a restaurant on the fifth floor with a great view of London.

Waterstones bookshop in Piccadilly, London W1J 9HD

Waterstones bookshop in Piccadilly, London W1J 9HD

Over the years of travelling, I also visited many bookshops all over the world and these are my favourites.

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How to Speed Read Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, 14 November 2018

How to speed read Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, 14 November 2018

Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, published on 14 November 2018 has 106, 836 words, 585 pages (PDF, 1.37MB) so it shouldn’t be difficult to just read it in a traditional way and easy to speed read it, compared to speed reading the full Chilcot report which consists of 12 volumes and contains 2.6 million words.

106, 836 words only

To put it context, it’s about six times smaller than War and Peace (587,00 words) and about seven times smaller than the Bible (775,00 words) and the complete works of Shakespeare (885,000 words) but it’s much more complex than any of these books.

Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, 14 November 2018

Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, 14 November 2018

Speed reading is information extraction so there is no point of reading Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, from cover to cover – just for the sake of it because it’s a historic document. Even though it wouldn’t take a long time. If an average, educated person reads about 240-300wpm (word per minute) – it would take about 10 hours to read it from cover to cover with the regular, traditional, slow reading. If you’re a lawyer, barrister or solicitor and you read this kind of documents on regular bases every day – it would take you about 2-3 hours of very detailed speed reading. On average, each page has about 150-300 words so one minute per page is a very conservative estimate for just regular reading this whole document. 600 pages = 0.5 min/page = 5 hours of speed reading and 2-3 hours of super-duper speed reading.

Reading for the message

Just reading or speed reading this document is one thing but understanding the implications and legal ramifications is a completely another matter and only lawyers and experts will be able to unravel it all.

+ Keep speed reading

Brain Gym and Fizzical Challenges

Brain Gym

Any physical challenges similar to those below (rubbing your tummy while patting your head, etc) help wake you up by stimulating both hemispheres of the brain, but certain bilateral exercises, known as Brain Gym, have additional positive effects (by working on the body’s energy system). The ultimate bilateral brain gym exercise is juggling which helps with speed reading.

During breaks, challenge yourself by trying (and perfecting) one or more of the following Brain Gym fun exercises

Breaks are a very important part of speed reading and any learning. They help to relax, refocus and boost dopamine levels which is important for motivation and focus. Resting and exercising your eyes is also important for optimum speed reading.

Moving alphabet

Read the alphabet aloud as written on the chart. As you do so, raise your Right hand if the letter below is R, raise your Left hand if the letter below is L, and raise both hands Together if the letter below is T.

It’s harder than it looks, but if you can do it easily, then read the alphabet backwards – or read up and down the columns – or additionally lift your opposite knee (ie R = raise your right hand and left knee, L = raise your left hand and right knee, T = raise both hands and both legs/jump).

Brain Gym: moving alphabet

Brain Gym: moving alphabet

Cross crawl

Lift your left leg and touch your left knee with your right hand (arm crosses the body). Then lift your right leg and touch your right knee with your left hand. Keep going, touching alternate knees – as slowly as possible. (A more energetic variation is to touch elbows to the opposite knee.)

Cook’s hook ups

Put both hands out in front of you, backs of your hands together, thumbs facing down. Place one hand over the other so palms are facing, then interlace your fingers. Swivel your interlocked hands together towards you, and bring them up under your chin. Cross one leg over the other. Relax shoulders, tummy and face. Put the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and take several deep breaths. This is a particularly calming and focusing exercise to end with before going back to work.


Reseach suggests that juggling is one of the best (fun) ways to boost your brain power and learning. Learn more about the power of juggling and what it can do for your brain and learning

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Summary of The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World Kindle Edition by David Eagleman, Anthony Brandt

How the mind makes new ideas: Bending, breaking, blending

The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World Kindle Edition by David Eagleman, Anthony Brandt

The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World Kindle Edition
by David Eagleman, Anthony Brandt

David Eagleman: So what humans do that is special is we absorb all of these ideas, all these inputs, and we smoosh them up in various ways and come up with new things.

And so there are essentially three main ways that the brain does this, and we’ve summarized this as bending, breaking and blending.

So let’s start with bending. So bending is where you take something and you change it, you make it smaller, you make it bigger, you change something about it. When you look at statues across human culture you find that people bend the human form any which way, making it taller or skinnier or emphasizing certain portions over the other. They do that with all animal paintings and sculptures and so on.

You can bend lots of aspects of things. So the artist JR made a statue of the high jumper Mohammad Idris for the Olympics and he put that super huge and had him jumping over a building. And you have other sculptures that make extremely tiny little figurines.

And one of the arguments we make is that the exact same thing that’s happening in art, the same cognitive processes are happening in the sciences also.

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Summary of  THE MASTER ALGORITHM – How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos

THE MASTER ALGORITHM – How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos

THE MASTER ALGORITHM – How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos

Micro-summary: the ultimate master algorithm is an algorithm (or machine learning algorithm) that can learn anything (in minutes or seconds) given enough data, especially non-linear models or phenomenon. 

Everyone a coder
Currently, machine learning algorithms do two things: one, where they improve the existing processes in order to do them more accurately and faster and two, where machine learning can do entirely new things that never have been done before. For example, if you give a computer enough date about a particular health condition, it will learn in less than a minute how to diagnose a patient for that condition much better than any top doctor can do. In the future machine learning algorithms will be embedded in everything from day one, in the same way as your subconscious mind with its neural network, which works in a similar way, learns all the time. At the moment, in order to programme a computer, you need to know how to code or be a computer scientist. In the near future, anyone will be able to programme a computer without any knowledge of coding – because the machine learning is learning the natural language and will be able to understand your English or whatever language you choose to speak. You’ll just need to explain in plain English what you want your computer to do.

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Build your neuroplasticity with juggling and boost your speed reading

Build your neuroplasticity with juggling and boost your speed reading

Juggling builds neuroplasticity

A study on structural neuroplasticity suggests that adults who juggled three balls for three months (15-30min/day) increased gray matter (GM) in the mid-temporal area and left posterior intraparietal sulcus. 3 months of little or no juggling and the grey matter decreased and approached baseline values (Cassandra Sampaio-Baptista, et al, 2014; download the pdf of the paper). Juggling is a workout for your brain – a kind of brain gym.

Juggling helps with reading

Learning to track objects with your eyes improves your reading and ultimately speed reading. Juggling improves hand-eye coordination (so it’s useful for super-duper reading), peripheral vision (for the optimum state for speed reading) and a host of other motor skills and reflexes (Rosenberger, 2011).

Juggling is a bilateral exercise: brain gym

Juggling is a bilateral exercise like brain gym exercises which are good for waking up the brain, focusing and dopamine stimulation which is responsible for motivation.

Juggling builds multiple intelligences and self-esteem

Juggling exercises multiple intelligences and uses both sides of the brain. While you’re learning to juggle, you’re using the left side of the brain. When you’re juggling you’re using the right side and after a while, both sides of the brain are active. Kid’s self-esteem gets a boost from learning a new skill while they’re having fun.

It is also a good physical exercise – which this video suggests.

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Summary of 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

Summary of 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

Summary of 21 Lessons for 21 Century by Yuval Noah Harari

Summary of 21 Lessons for 21 Century by Yuval Noah Harari

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari – the third book by the acclaimed author of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow and Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. This time he focuses on the present time and the problems and issues we’re facing (terrorism, fake news and immigration) and offers some solutions. 21 chapters/lessons are organised into five categories/parts: Part I: The Technological Challenge, Part I: The Political Challenge, Part III: Despair and Hope, Part IV: Truth and, finally and Part V: Resilience — and has tips on how to navigate the future we face – with the power of clarity. Some critics may argue that we’ve heard all this before but hopefully this time we’ll listen to the present-day voice of Cassandra. 

368 pages and Kindle typical time of non-speed reading of it is 7 hours and 6 minutes but with this in-depth summary, you’ll be up to speed on it in minutes (especially if you just read the micro-summary of this summary at the end of the blog or watch Harari talk about his new book).

On your future career prospect: soon you might not have one

“No remaining human job will ever be safe from the threat of future automation.” Critics or sceptics will say to this, that there has always been a talk of amazing futuristic innovations that haven’t really actualised yet. Say that to all candle makers who missed the memo that electricity was going to disrupt their business. The revolution of automation and AI will make humans redundant from all sorts of fields from truck-drivers to lawyers to accountants to teachers and so on.

“Once AI makes better decisions than us about careers and perhaps even relationships, our concept of humanity and of life will have to change.”

On future education: change is the only constant and learning to learn is the top skill to master

“The now century-old model of production-line school education is bankrupt.” AI the ultimate master machine learning algorithm will be able to do everything. Forget teaching kids programming, the best skill you can teach them is reinvention. “So what else should we be teaching? Many pedagogical experts argue that school should be switched to teaching ‘the four Cs’ – critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.” And how to deal with constant change in the constantly changing world. “To survive and flourish in such a world, you will need a lot of mental flexibility and a great reserves of emotional balance.”

“In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power.”
Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

This chapter on education is most interesting to me because of my interest in accelerated learning and education. In it, Harari charts the past and future of the education and what we should be doing now to ensure that the quality of education, information and knowledge is enhanced as opposed to degraded. The advice he gives to a 15-year old is: “don’t rely on the adults too much. Most of them mean well, but they just don’t understand the world.” What should you rely on then? Technology? Not really. Biotechnology, machine learning and algorithms? No. Should you rely on yourself then? If you know yourself, maybe – by most people don’t know themselves and are products of external influences because we’re living in the era of hacking humans. “To succeed in such a daunting task, you need to work hard on getting to know your operating system better.” But hurry, because your competition (Google, Amazon, Coca-cola, Facebook, Baidu, Netflix, Match or eHarmony, governments, religions, etc) is racing to hack you first.

Learning to learn or self-learning is the most important skill you’ll be relying on in order to reinvent yourself and face uncertainty and unknown leading to 2040.
Speed reading is a part of the accelerated learning methodology. Speed reading courses for kids as young as nine are available.

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