I find it irresistible to keep purchasing cheap programming and technical e-books in fields such as Drupal, PHP, etc., and also compulsively download free material made available such as those from Microsoft's developer blog...

The main problem with the large library I've developed is that there are many chapters (especially the first few) in these books packed with information I already know, but with helpful tidbits hidden in between. The logical step would be to skip those chapters and read the ones I don't seem to know anything about, but I'm afraid I may lose out on really important information this way. But naturally it is tedious to have to read about variables, functions and objects all over again when you are trying to know more about the Registry pattern, for example.

It's hard to research on the net for this, because my question itself seems vague and difficult to formulate into a single search query. I need people-advice - what do you do in this situation?

  • The text is vague, but I hope I communicated my problem. Sorry if the question is too subjective, and I would understand if it was closed...
    – Aditya M P
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 12:07
  • 1
    The question is slightly unclear - do you mean "how to pick out all the information in a book that you didn't know before and skip what you already know", or "how to find information about something specific, like the Registry pattern"? Those are rather different questions.
    – weronika
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 23:58
  • Yes! Thanks for paraphrasing my question: the first option you presented is what I am after... "how to pick out all the information in a book that you didn't know before and skip what you already know". Like any developer with even mediocre experience, I have gotten quite good at extracting specific info from the web or a book (it's mostly the web) - but I know what I want in this case...
    – Aditya M P
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 0:06
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    Sadly I'm not sure there's a good solution to this problem. But I'd love to see one if there is!
    – weronika
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 0:21

2 Answers 2


There are several options:

  1. Buy books for advanced readers: If you think you are already too experienced to read about variables, basic types etc again and again, go on to the next step and buy a book which is written for more experienced people

  2. Read through the chapters: If you are scared to miss something... simply read everything. This way you will also rebuild your old knowledge by repetition. Naturally you can only skim the text when you are proficient in the topics talked about in the chapter, but make sure you read the summary at the end of every chapter most authors provide

  3. Skip to next chapter: If you think you know about the topic in one chapter simply skip it. Good authors will use the things explained in earlier chapters again anyway, so you could check if you missed something


I was in your situation some years ago, I couldn't stop buying books to read several times the same concept. I ended up paying more attention to what title to choose: several big editors have books from novice to professional, others suggest a learning path.


Better yet, give up on paper and consider other media. If the problem is finding new topics and arguments, a paper book is not the right way to solve it.

For example:




The first is an ebook library with all you need, and the second a very good video training suite (more focused on .NET)

  • I am not against paper, I love paper books :) Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 12:35

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