Let’s take a break from the video games for a while and talk about books, specifically the process of reading them. It’s said that reading is one of the most effective habits, not only for success but also for enrichment of one’s life. For those who are already into reading as a beneficial activity, they may have trouble with making the habit stick. Major parts of that problem are not being able to finish reading fast enough and being unable to retain most of what was read. If you have that and want to deal with it, please read on.
Showing people how to read well is different from convincing them to read; they tackle different questions. This is for those who already read and want to get more out of it. If you don’t think you have a reason to read, then you may want to give it a try (not to mention that I’d want you to actually read more of my stuff on this website).
People learn to read as early as pre-school, but reading books outside for a school paper may seem unusual for many. The sentence “I hate reading” was common in MySpace pages, and it’s still a red flag in the Facebook age. Perhaps a bit of guidance is needed to make reading a bit more engaging.
NOTE: These are only suggestions from myself and the following sources. If you already have a way of reading that you use, then go with it by all means.
Everyone is different, so you always have to go with the process that works best for you. Still, feel free to look into these anyway. Perhaps they can help you further improve your reading experience.
The “Proper” Basics of Reading Books
Pardon me for using the word “proper”; there’s no real “correct” way of reading, but there are more effective ways. For the purposes of this post, we’re talking about reading as a means to gathering information and learning new things from books and other reading materials. (Reading can be a pleasurable activity, but let’s leave that part out for now.)
These suggested fundamentals are from The Art of Manliness, which is a cool website on anything related to its name. You may also want to look into this article on reading and retaining for a more comprehensive guide.
Let’s look into what makes reading a chore, the 4 types of reading, and a look into two of them — inspectional and analytical reading. There are also links to references that may help you learn more about it.
I know, reading to learn about reading may seem ridiculous for some. But then again, I think you’re not one of those people if you already got this far in this blog post.
What we’re most familiar with is elementary reading, which is what we’re taught as children. There’s also syntopical reading, which is for writers and teachers. I can recommend that one too since it helps you learn how to organize ideas and information, which is a crucial skill to have for writers.
Of course, we’re talking about non-fiction here; fiction is mostly for leisure and are read at a more relaxed pace. But if it’s something like a Charles Duhigg’s Power of Habit or a Robert Greene book, then you may have to get into this kind of reading.
One of the reasons why reading may be hard to get into is that it takes time to finish books. That’s where speed reading comes in, and many people who owe their success to reading have this skill.
Again from The Art of Manliness, here’s their post on how to speed read like Theodore Roosevelt. The legendary US president was perhaps the epitome of a complete man who was not at all lacking in intellect.
Great men like him usually are to be voracious readers, yet presidential duties could get in the way of quality reading time. That’s when speed reading comes in, letting one absorb books like how predators go through a fresh kill.
My take on speed reading is that it’s optional at best. If you’re capable of processing paragraphs at a glance, then that’s good for you. You can save time while going through tons of material, which is both a convenience and a useful skill for boosting your effectiveness. But you can’t force it since it takes practice and not a basic necessity.
A Better Way to Read Books
The YouTube channel FightMediocrity features animated book reviews that are definitely worth watching. This isn’t the definite be-all-end-all solution to being able to read book after book like an intellectual beast, but it can get you there if it works for you.
The method centers around listening to the audiobook at a faster speed. As the video states:
- Obtain both the book and the audiobook.
- Set playback of audiobook to 2x speed.
- Listen to audiobook while following the book.
- Finish the book more quickly with better retention.
(It’s alright to have only the audiobook.)
I’ve been trying it out recently. It takes a bit of getting used to and getting both the book and the audiobook takes more time and money. But if you’re willing to do it, then you may find it to be an effective technique.
If you’re one of those who thinks that ebooks or audiobooks are not the same as old-fashioned books and using them doesn’t count as reading, please go away. You suck.
My Preferred Ways of Reading
Writing (more or less) for a living means there’s a lot of reading to be done, so I constantly read, whether it’s an online article or a book. Due to the need for (self-imposed) devotion to this process, I can’t have only one way of reading all this material.
Most of the time, I skim as if I’m proofreading. Outside work, I listen to audiobooks while commuting, I read ebooks on my phone, and re-read articles whenever I’m bored. But when there’s a book I really have to get into, I do it with a notepad nearby to jot down notes.
I list important stuff after each chapter and do my best to go through as many pages as I can. It’s a bit slower, but I would have notes to refer to once I’m done. Sometimes, I also get synopses and cliff notes online, but I only look for them after having read most of the book.
Of course, I don’t do it too often; I only do it for books whose substance I really want to absorb. Whenever I encounter such a book, I have to set aside time spread out over a week to get through it. Buying the book with my own money is also a motivating factor — I paid for it, so I better fucking read it.