a. Read the topics in the table of contents. If you look at several physics books you'll notice that many are laid out the same way. For example, in both Physics 121 and in Physics 210 your book will have chapters on motion, work and energy, heat and thermodynamics, vibrations and waves, sound, electricity and magnetism, optics etc. TIP: So if you have difficulty with a concept in Physics 210, why not review it in a Physics 121 book?
b. Read the preface. It will give you an overview of the author's intentions, emphasis and arrangement of the book. For example, here are quotes from a preface written by author W. Thomas Griffith: "An unusual feature of this book ... is the carefully worded conceptual questions at the end of each chapter... Many of these have been classroom-tested on quizzes..."
"Another unusual feature of this book is that each chapter begins with an illustration from everyday experience that motivates the introduction of the relevant physical concepts."
"Each chapter also include an 'Everyday Phenomenon' box that analyzes some common phenomena in more detail."
c. Skim through the book. Notice the chapter objectives, the chapter outline,
highlighted boxes, tables, illustrations, graphs, diagrams, terminology,
summary statements and practice exercises.