Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Reading: 5 Practical Skills

As a voracious reader it never occurred to me that a guideline to reading would be necessary. Even when there was that great series of ads about reading that featured tips about reading, I read someone's guidelines about skimming (maybe it was Bill Cosby?) and already was way ahead of them on the technique.

However, for those to whom reading doesn't come quite as easily, there now is a very handy guide from Nick Senger at Literary Compass called ROMAN Reading: 5 Practical Skills for Transforming Your Life through Literature. This is a free e-book that can be downloaded as a pdf. It is simply but attractively formatted and has some very good ideas to improve reading habits. (Ok, I will probably never do the outlining idea, but it is an idea worth knowing about should one be doing a more serious study of a book than I tend toward).

He also has set up a blog devoted to ROMAN Reading that is worth checking out.

Here is a bit of one of the tips ... and yes, I already did everything in here but I had to figure it out for myself. You have this handy guide to help you along.
Here are five ways to improve marking in books:
  1. Use a pen, not a highlighter. You can't write words or sentences with a highlighter, they're too thick. As I mentioned in ROMAN Reading, my preferred pen is the green Sanford Uniball with the microfine point.
  2. Use the white spaces. Those empty spaces on the title pages and at the beginning and end of chapters are perfect for recording notes, outlines, summaries and various thoughts about what you're reading.
  3. Use symbols and shortcuts. Try using an exclamation mark (!), asterisk (*) or question mark (?) in the margin to save time.
  4. Mark entire paragraphs with brackets. If you want to mark an entire paragraph, don't underline the whole thing, just draw a bracket or a set of vertical lines along the side. That way you can still circle certain words or phrases within the paragraph.
  5. Don't overmark! One reason to mark a book is to be able to find things again. If the entire book ends up being green, you've defeated the purpose.

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