An Overlooked Reading Hack

I enjoy reading nonfiction books. Books that recount historical events or people’s lives and books that enhance my understanding of complex subjects are my favorites. I’ve come to appreciate these books for more than just their content. Well-written nonfiction books can be great jumping-off points.

Most well-written nonfiction books take a long time to create. The authors spend lots of time researching their topic. They read and talk to people to make sure their facts and understanding are sound. The amount of information found and consumed during their research can be staggering. Identifying and accessing this information by applying their investigative skills can consume a material amount of time and energy.

What most people don’t realize is that authors often share their research process in their books. They cite the sources of facts and important concepts throughout the text. But more importantly, they often have a notes section at the end of the book that lists all the articles, books, interviews, etc. they researched and used in the writing of the book.

The notes section of a great book can be an overlooked gold mine. It gives me a list of additional vetted sources of knowledge about a topic I’m interested in. The author’s countless hours of research are summed up in one easy-to-read list. I’ve used the notes sections of books many times to find other wonderful writings and people I otherwise would have never known about.

When I finish reading a good book, I make a point of reviewing the notes section for golden nuggets and bread crumbs.