October 17, 2007


Posted in books, personal at 11:22 pm by jimazing

reader.png I did something different tonight. I photo-read The World Café, a book about creating environments where we can encourage and explore conversations that matter. My friend, John recommended it. When John tells me he thinks I’ll like a book, he’s usually right on target.

I like the idea of creating “café” environments where we invite a diverse mix of people, ask important questions, encourage everyone to share freely, “cross polinate” ideas, observe and look for the emerging ideas in-between the spoken thoughts. It reminds me of another book I read about a year ago, The Wisdom of Crowds , in which the underlying message is that all of us are smarter than any one of us. It is an idea that intrigues me and stirs me.

I find that most of the conversations I am a part of are about unimportant things and I do not feel compelled to jump in with my ideas. Sometimes I have the courage to inject some of my thoughts and try to steer the conversation into a dialog about things that matter. That opens the door to ridicule, bewilderment or silence. Every once in a while, it leads to a bigger conversation. One statement stirs another person to say something that stirs someone else and before you know it, we are talking about things that matter.

I started this entry with the intention of talking about photoreading, not the World Café. Disclaimer: I am not recommending any “PhotoReading” course. I have never taken any course or studied it formally to make such a recommendation. I just want to tell you about what I did tonight 🙂

I first ran across the idea of PhotoReading on another blog where a course was being offered at a substantial discount. I have read enough articles on this blog to have some respect for his integrity. While I do not always agree with the author, I feel sure that if he says he uses the system and likes it, he does. It was enough to pique my curiosity, which lead me to search the web about it. Of course the comments I found ranged from its being a waste of money to a life saver. I learned enough to decide that I didn’t need to spend $100 to find out more. I learned enough to try it all by myself. Here’s what I did:

  1. Sat up straight at the kitchen table with good light
  2. Looked over the book to see how it felt, type size and style, length of chapters etc.
  3. Looked closely over the table of contents to see how the book was laid out and what it covered
  4. Closed my eyes and breathed deeply for about a minute to help clear my mind
  5. Read the book by scanning each page. Took about 2-3 seconds per page, not worrying about getting all of the content
  6. Three or four times, I stopped for a break to stretch or go to the… well to take a break.
  7. After about two hours, I had read the book completely!

Thoughts about the experience:

  • The layout of the pages changed between 2 or 3 styles. Some pages were printed all the way across, while others were a narrower column with a wide margin. Some pages had lots of graphics and a few were laid out completely differently to put a lot of organized info on a page. The differences slowed me down.
  • I found that on the wider pages, my eyes were following a figure eight motion on each paragraph. On the narrower pages, I could simply scan them in a single, linear motion.
  • A few times, I read a page or two and realized that my mind had completely wandered to something else and I went back to re-read them. While this was mostly frustrating, more than once, my wandering mind was imagining applications for the information. That was neat.
  • Normally, this book would have taken me about a month to read. I wonder if I got as much out of the book reading it in one sitting as I would have reading it “normally”. My guess is that I got more out of it this way. When I read slowly getting every word, I don’t remember everything I read. I don’t remember every word now either, but I don’t think that is that the point.
  • The thoughts I shared at the beginning of this blog entry were from memory.  I don’t know how well I captured the whole book, but I do remember some of it 🙂
  • I could not have done this if there had been any distractions.
  • I really wanted to read this book, so that was a big motivator.

I said this was something new. It is actually my second photoreading session. I recently photoread, The Papa Prayer and then immediately re-read it “normally”. The second time through, I got more of the details. I wasn’t sure if it would feel like a second reading. It did.

Will I do it again? Definitely! Will I read every book like this? Probably not. I can’t imagine reading a novel this way.

What do you think? Have you ever tried anything like this? Would you? If you do, let me know what it was like for you. If you buy the program, I’d be interested in hearing about that too.

1 Comment »

  1. ded said,

    Never heard of the strategy. Interesting. One thing I did in the last couple of courses I have taken while working as a school teacher was to digest long articles and chapters of books by reading first and last sentences of paragraphs. Not photo-reading at all as described by you, but it substantially cut down on my time investment while allowing enough of a level of understanding to participate in class effectively.

    I really like the idea of all of us are smarter than one of us. I think a corollary is all of us Christians have a fuller view of Christ than one of us. For this reason I have routinely considered what Christians from perspectives other than mine have to say about Jesus.

    I even listen to voices from outside of Christianity. I don’t hear much about Jesus, but I get insight into how people think they are developed by their spiritual pursuit of God. For example, in Ithaca Frei and I found and indie movie theatre showing a film which was an American Buddhist priest teaching about life using cooking as a metaphor.
    We viewed it together at the theatre and enjoyed discussing it together.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: