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Reading is a beautiful thing. It may enable your to travel in time, experience a wide range of emotions and escape reality. But books can also empower you. Whether it be documentaries, self-help or theoretical books, you can learn a lot, provided that you have the tools to retain the information you receive by reading them. So here are a few tips to start using straight away for an active reading, both for homework assignments and pleasure reading!
1.Don’t skip the foreword. If you’re reading a novel for your own pleasure during your spare time, you may skip it and get back to reading the preface after completing it, however, truth is that the foreword will always enlighten you and you can only benefit from it even though the title is not on your assignment paper. It may be an advantage later on with your future academic readings, although this doesn’t apply to all the literary genres. The key questions that the book raises are oftentimes listed in the preface and will help you gain knowledge about the context, thus improving your overall comprehension of the text.
2. Identify the key notions before you start reading. Having knowledge of those, ask yourself pre-reading questions and go back to them each time you finish a chapter. These could be basic or abstract questions. Keep track of your reading — what you learn as well as how you feel as regards to non-theoretical books (see no. 6).
3. Keep a dictionary by your side. If you’re reading in a foreign language, even if you master it, you may still find words that you’ve never heard of. On the other hand, esoteric
works you’re not well acquainted with may as well require a dictionary. If the length of the book is more than the average three hundred pages, chances are likely that you won’t pick up your dictionary as much as you would really need. In that case, make sure to look up for the words that you’re absolutely oblivious about.
4. Let your pencil become your best friend. Use it to underline what seems the most important to you, sentences you like or you think could be useful. Write the definitions that may be of use in the margins. Summarize concepts and ideas through key words. Use brackets and abbreviations. You may as well use highlighters for theoretical works or handbooks.
At the beginning, you may feel unfamiliar holding your pencil alongside your book but practice makes perfect. The novels you read for your own pleasure may not require notes (e.g. Nicholas Sparks’s romance novels), but if you’re interested in a wide range of literary genres, like me, you will find that you can learn so much with books even if you don’t pass tests. The act of underlining the text may help you read more carefully and retain the information you receive (and that even more if you have a strong visual memory).
N.B.: Never forget that books are sacred, so don’t scribble and damage their pages using felt-tipped pens heavily!
5. Make sheets (this mostly applies to academic readings). Divide them into chapters or themes. Copy down the most important information or list the quotes you previously underlined. Summarize chapters. Try to make it short so that it is easier to memorize.
6. Keep a reading notebook. You may write down your sheets for your homework assignment in it and compile them all together. You may also use a separate one for your independent reading recommended by your teachers but selected by yourself in order to interconnect them. Then, you may keep another notebook for your leisure reading listing the books you’ve reading in a randomly and less scholarly noting:
-at what point you were in life when you started reading it, from an emotional or mental point of view for instance
– why you picked it up, who recommended it to you
– how you felt halfway through the book
– your final reaction, whether your were disappointed or not, your personal summary including the emotions it gave you
– your favorite quotes
– the person you would recommend it to
and oher such things.
And don’t forget that…;