I write on the Quora platform in order to become a better writer. The jury is still out as to whether my experiment is working. One post resulted in more than 10 thousand eyeballs viewing my answer to the question about the difference between intensive (deep) and extensive reading.
Intensive or Deep Reading
Reading deeply is more than reading slowly and taking notes. It’s reading that leads to more reviewing more articles, books, or interviews on the same topic. When I read Gladwell, I read his footnotes and endnotes—that’s an example of deep reading.
In 2017, I read what is now one of my favorite business books, American Icon. Most of the book centers around the CEO, Alan Mulally and how he made Ford relevant again along with his management team.
I read it once and listened to it twice. I followed that up by reading about Mulally’s management process called Working Together which is also the title of the book. Mullaly wrote the forward to it.
I wound up reading several books on organizational health that the Lewis book referenced. I then read The Whiz Kids to learn what working together was not like. That’s deep reading or reading intensively.
If you are following footnote breadcrumbs, I guarantee that you are reading deeply or intensively.
Reading Extensively or Widely
When I think of reading widely or extensively, I think of Vanna White and Pat Sajak who are the faces of Wheel of Fortune. Spin the wheel where instead of money, you’ll find a book title. Spin again, and you get another title.
Economics, sociology, pulp fiction, biographies, religion, philosophy. That’s reading widely or extensively.
Just an observation. I fear that most business leaders read far too narrowly. For those that do read, it’s business book after business book. It’s like they are always looking for that one business idea that’s tucked away just for them to find.
Reading widely should be a requirement for every business leader.
A Time for All Seasons
One reading style or strategy is not better than the other. I tend to binge-read on topics I love. So I need to improve on the breadth of my reading content.
Those reading widely will sometimes need or want to slow down to read deeply on a topic they enjoy. The same holds true for those reading deeply—we need to start smelling the roses more so by reading on different subjects.
Incidentally, the Raptitude blogger says we should go deeper and not wider.
More than 50,000 readers of that article appear to agree, do you?