How To Read A Book
Guidelines for Getting the Most out of Non-Fiction Reading
Author's Note: I wrote this article in hopes that others would not only read it, but pass it along. Please feel free to download it, change it, and distribute it in any way you see fit.
I have no attachment to authorship of this essay, and it may prove more effective if distributed unsigned. Obviously, however, I would prefer that you not publish it or distribute it under your own name.
How can you get the most out of a book when you are reading for information, rather than for pleasure?
It's always very satisfying to start at the beginning and read straight through to the end. If you don't read a novel this way, it's not very satisfying, since a basic principle of fiction is to hold the reader in suspense. In fact, your whole purpose in reading fiction is to follow the writer's lead, allowing him or her to spin a story bit by bit.
But many of the books you'll read during your college career -- and possibly in the rest of your life -- probably won't be novels. Instead, they'll be non-fiction: textbooks, manuals, histories, academic studies, and so on. The purpose of reading books like these is to gain information. Here, finding out what happens -- as quickly and easily as possible -- is your main goal. So unless you're stuck in prison with nothing else to do, NEVER read a non-fiction book from beginning to end.
Instead, when you're reading for information, you should ALWAYS jump ahead, skip around, and use every available strategy to anticipate, and then to discover, what the writer has to say. This is how you'll get the most out of a book in the least amount of time.
Here are some guidelines to help you do this effectively.
1) READ THE WHOLE BOOK.
Your goal should always be to get all the way through the assignment. It's much more important to have a general grasp of the arguments, evidence, and conclusions than to understand every detail. You probably...