Reading is one of life’s great pleasures. This is probably something that you already know; that’s why you’re on this blog! But, is it true that there are right and wrong ways to do it? This probably isn’t so true when it comes to fiction, especially as fiction reading culminates in a very subjective experience. But when it comes to reading nonfiction, there’s certainly a strong argument to be made that there are good ways to read it and bad ways to read it.
How is this possible? Well, it’s worth remembering that nonfiction – aside from the likes of self-help books and autobiographies – exist in order to educate the reader. And there are ways of reading that will help you absorb and retain more information. Most people seem to forget the majority of what they read – which isn’t great if you’re reading non-fiction for a class, right?
We’re going to take a quick look at the best ways to read a nonfiction book!
Skimming: Some of you may be wondering why the heck “skimming” would be suggested! Isn’t that precisely what you’re supposed to avoid? Well, if you’re skimming the entire book instead of reading it properly, then yes. But if you skim a chapter of a book first, and then read it properly, then you’re giving your brain a head start with the information. Your brain will retain a lot of the basic information and themes from a quicker glance than you might expect.
Never Read Without a Pencil: Don’t be so particular about your books that you’re afraid to take notes in them! You should take the time to write notes about the material in the margin, as well as underline (or draw a line in the margins next to) sections that you feel are especially important. This can also help you take note of parts of the book that you want to investigate further, in case you initially find it a little confusing or even doubt the veracity of the claim.
Make an Effort to Memorize: In general, reading is fantastic for exercising your memory. That’s just one of the top 10 reasons why reading is important. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t actually put work into committing something that you read to memory. The simple fact that you’re reading isn’t going to mean that you’ll automatically remember it in the future! The best way to do this is to take what makes memory tick and apply that to reading. Psychologists believe that memory is built from three components: impression, association, and repetition. Apply these to your reading and see how it helps.
Recite or Read Out Loud: Finally, one of the best ways to recall what you’ve read is to speak that information. You could try introducing someone else to that information by telling them about what you’ve read in conversation. Just make sure that you’re with someone with an interest in the given subject! Something else that you can try is simply reading passages out loud. This may seem time-consuming, but it’s effective. You may even want to record yourself reading out loud and listen to the sound file repeatedly instead of listening to music during your reading break.
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