How do I become a more effective reader?
We all want to be more effective readers, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. There is much more to reading a book than opening the first page and closing the last. Fiction books offer us the chance to pause our own reality and take a step into someone else’s. Non-fiction books provide us with limitless learning and opportunities for growth. Whether you like sci-fi fantasy or prefer to read up on the history of Peru, there are some simple steps you can take to become a more effective reader.
These five simple habits will help you get into a reading routine and make the most of your time spent reading. Implementing just a few of these habits can make a big difference in your reading productivity.
Read with a purpose to become an effective reader
One of the best ways to become a more effective reader is to read with a purpose. That doesn’t mean you can only read non-fiction books, even fiction books can be read with a purpose in mind. For example, you might want to pay attention to the author’s use of language or the way the book makes you feel. Maybe you want to gain a deeper understanding of a certain concept within the book that the author frequently refers to.
Set out your intentions before you even open the book. “I want to explore how the author builds character personality” or “I want to learn more about the author’s person beliefs”. Whatever your purpose may be, make sure that it is something specific so that you can keep track of your progress along the way.
Take notes and highlight as you read
As you’re reading, take notes in the margins or highlight passages that stand out to you. Doing so will help you keep track of your thoughts and observations as you read. This will make it easier for you to refer back to later on. Additionally, taking notes can also help improve your comprehension and retention of the material.
Of course, you don’t want your notes and highlights to get in the way of your enjoyment of the book. So only mark down what is truly important or interesting to you. There’s no need to annotate every single page. Using coloured page tabs can also help you locate specific notes easier. You could even try drawing your notes instead of writing. Sound crazy? Maybe not, this research study suggests that drawing is better than writing for memory retention!
Asking questions is another great way to become a more effective reader. If something doesn’t make sense or you want to know more about a particular concept, character, or plot point, make a note of this as you’re reading.
You can jot down your questions in the margins as you read and come back to them when you have finished the book. Once you’ve compiled your list of questions, see if you can answer them easily or not. If you’re stuck, flick back through the book and re-read the notes. Once you’ve reminded yourself of the answer, write it down to solidify your learning.
Set time aside for reading
The fourth habit to become a more effective reader is to set aside time specifically for reading. It’s important to find a time that works for you—a time when you can focus and not be interrupted. For some people, that might mean getting up an hour early in the morning before everyone else wakes up. For others, it might mean reading on their lunch break or right before they go to bed at night.
Set yourself up for success and make it easier to adopt these habits. Find what works for you and stick with it. You might also want to consider setting a weekly or monthly reading goal so that you have something specific to strive for.
Write a summary about what you have read
Everyone has read a book for school and then had to write a summary of what they read. This can often be seen as tedious and time-consuming, however, there are reasons why writing a summary can be effective in solidifying what you have learnt.
When we read, our brains are constantly trying to make sense of the information and store it in our memory. By writing a summary, we are essentially distilling the key points of the book into a short paragraph. This forces us to look critically at what we have read and reflect on what we have learnt. When we read our summary it helps us to remember the key points of the book better than if we had just relied on our memory.
Are you ready to become a more effective reader?
Becoming an effective reader is a process that takes time and practice, but it’s worth the effort. By adopting these 5 simple habits, you can start to read books with more understanding and appreciation for the story being told. What are some of your favorite reading tips?