As bookaholics, we all know that reading is never a one-sided activity. For every individual reader, reading comes with its own unique meaning based on why they are reading a book. Some of us may choose reading just as a hobby in our leisure, while some others may be more goal-oriented and read a book for their personal or social development, and aim to get as much out of a book as possible. For a reader, if he falls in our second category, it is crucial to ace some useful techniques and skills while leafing through the pages of their favorite books.
Personally, as an avid reader, I tend to be a serious reader, and most of the time, I read with a ‘grow’ mindset. With this growth mindset, my foremost goal is to grow and learn something new and valuable through whatever book I go through. Therefore, for this purpose, I often use some of the skills that I have acquired throughout my adventure-like reading journey. Of course, every reader has his or her own reading habit or taste, and different readers may develop their own skills, but the following are some tips for readers who want to transcend the words and reach to the depth and gist of books they read.
1. Knowledge About The Book And Its Author
Previous to reading any book, try to know about the book and, especially, its author as much as you can. Try to familiarize yourself with the author, his or her background, their areas of interest, the message they endeavor to give, their worldview about humans, society, and the world we live in. Is the writer a philosopher? Historian? Political analyst? Fiction writer? How can he or she help you better understand the subject that you share with them? These questions will help us become more goal-driven readers and curious about the subject that we pursue.
Next, go after the specific book of the author that you want to read. Aim to learn about the purpose that the writer seeks to get by writing that particular book. In which genre the book falls in? Is it a philosophical/historical fiction or nonfiction? What subject does the author focus on? Is he biased in it or not? Does the author have a good background in the subject he wants to discuss, and can he/she qualify to write on it? These all will lead to an organized reading mindset and get us the background information we need for understanding the book better and deeper.
There are many sources and sites where we can easily find out about any book and its author. A publisher’s magazine is often a great source to start with, but as always, the internet and online resources are the best. Find out a website that reviews books, or introduces a writer to its audience. Besides, check out our website where you can find reviews for dozens of books in many genres.
2. Taking Notes From The Book You Are Reading
Back in high school or college life, our study notes proved to be our best friends. Whether it was a science subject or social studies, we all used to create some short notes about the main concept or theory of every chapter and lesson. The whole book is never meant to be understood or remembered, neither you can do that. Instead, there are often some main, say theories, that a writer would propose to write about. In any book, those ‘mains’ are known as the gist of that book, and that is what you should be looking for. Suppose you are reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and want to understand his personality and ideology in depth. Building on the skills acquired from school days, as you go through the chapters of the book, try highlighting some important points out of every chapter, and later jot them down in some tiny pieces of paper, like a sticky note. Remember that taking notes doesn’t mean mere copy-pasting. For taking good notes, you have to pick the main point on which the whole chapter is based on and paraphrase it into your own words. Of course, as you practice this skill, you’ll get to know better what points are crucial."Remember that taking notes doesn't mean mere copy-pasting. For taking good notes, you have to pick the main point on which the whole chapter is based on and paraphrase it into your own words." Click To Tweet
3. Be Active While Reading
Being an “active reader” is one of the most crucial skills you, as a reader, will have to enhance. Having an open eye and an active mind is almost as important as reading itself. But what it means to be an “active reader”?
To understand this, recall a time when you were completely engrossed in a book while reading it; when you felt as if the author is talking to you alone, and whatever he/she pours down, comes before your eyes as if it’s a movie. And at the same time, you actively watch for every nuance point that is said to you. You process the information or knowledge you get and make it go through a trial and error to see if the stated statement is authentic. That’s perfectly what it means to read actively. Yes, you are not passive, and as you read, instead, you think with every word that comes under your view.
Finally, no reader learns exactly the same thing, to the same extent, when he/she reads a book. Everyone has a learning habit that’s the product of a whole lot of experience. So know your habit, learn from your experiences, and look at these tips as hints.