[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”565px” height=”” background_color=”#dedede” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]This is a guest post from Brad Andres. Brad writes thoughts, questions, comments, and explanations on God, Bible, and Life. His passion is to help people understand the Bible and maximize their God-given potential for life. For more of his writings, check out his blog. Follow him on Twitter. Find him on Facebook. Circle him on Google+.
Recently, Adam talked about viewing reading as a learning tool, not as a chore – I couldn’t agree more. He gave us some great tips explaining How To Read More Books This Year.
Sometimes reading can seem like a huge task, but I think most of us have heard “Leaders are Readers” at some point in our lives. If leaders love reading, then where does this passion come from? Why would you want to read more books this year?
The first book I read cover to cover was Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I wanted to be a ladies man (to find my wife of course). My mentor, tactfully guiding me after I committed my life to Christ, recommended for me to check the book out. I read it, applied the information, and became a ladies man (to my wife anyway). Then boom – I fell in love with reading. I couldn’t be stopped. Learning all this awesome stuff and seeing my life increase was exhilarating – it kinda became an addiction.
Then the problem came – TIME. I had grown to become a decent reader. After all, the more you practice reading, the better you’ll get at it. However, there were not enough hours in a day to read everything I wanted to learn.
In all of my reading, I had remembered reading about a book called How To Read A Book. It caught my attention because I loved reading and it seemed weird there was a book called How To Read A Book. After all, I was already reading – I had no trouble understanding “The cat jumped off the roof,” or any other sentence I came across.
Well, How To Read A Book isn’t about basic reading; it’s about understanding. This book was so jammed packed with awesome stuff – I can’t even begin to get into the details about it. So, here is a summary of some tips and important ideas from the book to help you in your reading endeavors.
Four levels of reading:
- Elementary reading – This is the basic level. You’re looking to recognize words. It’s your “cat jumped off the roof” type stuff.
- Inspectional reading – This is the level characterized by time. You’re speed reading (sort of). It’s where you systematically skim the surface searching for solutions (I hope you enjoyed that sentence, if so tweet that).
- Analytical reading – This is the deepest level. You’re focused on grasping the books message and making it part of you. It’s where you think and ponder and question, all to reach a real understanding of the book and it’s message.
- Synoptical reading – This is the literary rock star level. You’re reading multiple books on different topics. It’s where you take a shared theme between all your readings and analyze it. Note: You attempt this type of reading more than you think. If you read the Bible and wish to explain the concept of love, then you’re engaged in Synoptical reading.
Not all books are worth reading – at least on the deeper levels.
There is no shortage of books out there – so you’ll want to have some Inspectional Reading skills to determine if you should invest the time to read a book at the Analytical level. So quickly skim over these various points. Look for things that spark you’re interest, and look for things you don’t have a working knowledge about already.
- Title Page & Preface
- Table of Contents – See if the book flows in a direction you want to explore
- Index – Look at the topics covered and see if they are what you’re looking to learn
- Pivotal Chapters – Find the chapters that look important to the book as a whole and read the opening / closing paragraphs
- Dip in & out – Check a few pages and check out the conclusion
If after this you’re still intrigued – read the book. If you have discovered that you already understand most of the main messages, then you’ve just saved yourself some valuable time.
Conquer the book like a champ
To be a champ, you’ve got to be active! No champ ever trains by being passive, hoping things come to him in good will. You’ve got to become an active, demanding reader to benefit from books. Here’s how:
Ask Questions – This helps you think through the book and process information. Here’s some example questions to ask yourself: What is the whole book about? What are the main ideas, and how are they being stated? Is this book true, in whole or in part? What is the significance of the information?
Take Notes – Record the following: Immediate thoughts, “Aha” moments, Things that don’t make sense, Reasons the author said this or that.
Highlight – Moving while your reading keeps you alert and focused. It also helps you stay awake. Highlighting also makes for an excellent review tool.
Paraphrase – If you can’t rephrase it – You don’t understand it. Summarize every important point in a sentence or two. Take the main ideas which your gaining from the book and make your own outline. Once you do this – You’ve gotten the book.
Start being selective about which books you read at the deepest levels. Practice reading actively, and you’ll be a champ in no time!
Do you have any additional suggestions on how to increase your reading skills? You can leave your comment below.