I have followed Josh Kaufman since reading The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business, one of the best books on business that I’ve ever read. I was really excited to pick this book up at first, but after glancing through the table of contents and flipping through the chapters, I was pretty sure it was not going to be my favorite book on learning. The problem, in my mind, was that the bulk of the book was simply anecdotal, and the meat of the book was thin – really only two chapters at the beginning. I also recently picked up two excellent books on learning, The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life and Mastery, and did not see how this could compare.
Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised after reading it. The 10 Principles of Rapid Skill Acquisition and the 10 Principles of Effective Learning may be short chapters and seem simple, but they contain valuable advice. They will help you sort through what you should be learning and how to pick it up quickly. I thought that this would be the most interesting part of the book, but it turns out the case studies included were much more rewarding. My two favorites:
Programming: This is easily the most technical chapter and the hardest to understand, but also the most inspiring. Seeing something as daunting as learning a computer language from scratch broken down so quickly was pretty amazing. I added learning Ruby to my list.
Ukelele: Learning to play a ukelele in 10 days . . . pretty amazing case study. This has gone onto my list as well, though I’m not sold on a ukelele over a guitar.
The case studies will help you craft and break down your own learning projects. They are great, and will be immensely helpful for me as I choose what and how to study. If you are really interested in learning skills quickly, I would advise picking up The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life and using the DiSSS CaFE learning method in conjunction with The First 20 Hours. Using the techniques and seeing the examples from both books will help you start learning on your own very quickly. Honestly, it would be hard to invest your $40 on two better books . . . if you want to learn, start here. Highly Recommended.
The First 20 Hours: How To Learn Anything . . . Fast available on amazon