This is my personal bookshelf, some of reads I’m currently going or have gone through. These are also the books I have or want to have in paper format. Maybe you can find a new interesting book for your self, or even give me a recommendation for another must have-book I should add to my shelf. I write down notes for books I read.

Book categorization

I categorize my books into three main sections: fiction, nonfiction and technical. There are 3 kinds of non-fiction book: △ narrative, ○ tree, and ◻ branch.

Narrative books are books that tell a story. Examples include biographies, memoirs, and histories.

Tree books are books that lay out a framework of ideas. A good example is Daniel Kahneman's Thinking: Fast and Slow, which lays out his life's work — the entirety of behavioral economics — in a single book.

Branch books are the most common type of book you'll find in the non-fiction section. These are books that consist of a single idea. The rest of the book is then padded out with examples, extrapolations, and implications of that single idea. Example: you can hang up pretty much any book by psychologist Dan Ariely on the tree of ideas developed in Daniel Kahneman's Thinking: Fast and Slow.

There's implication here: you can skim branch books. You shouldn't skim narratives and tree books. With tree books in particular, I find that slowing down to reflect on each chapter to be incredibly rewarding, so long as the tree book is a good one. But branch books: man. It's absolutely possible to skim branch books while still maintaining an optimal amount of learning:

  • Check out the author’s bio online to get a sense of the person’s bias and perspective.
  • Read the title, subtitle, front flap, table of contents. Figure out the big-picture argument of the book, and how that argument is laid out.
  • Read the introduction and conclusion word for word to figure out where the author starts from and where he eventually gets to.
  • Read/skim each chapter: Read the title, the first few paragraphs or the first few pages of the chapter to figure out how the author is using the chapter and where it fits into the argument of the whole book. Then skim through headings and subheadings to get an idea of the flow. Read the first sentence and last sentence of each paragraph. Once you get an argument, feel free to move on to the next argument, skipping over the many repeated case studies or examples.
  • End with the table of contents again, looking through, and summarizing each.