The key to becoming a better reader is by becoming an “active” reader. Adler states that in order to be an “active” reader, you need to consistently ask 4 questions and use these 7 techniques while reading. In addition, there’s a systematic way to go through the book. The 4 questions you should consistently ask to keep yourself engaged are:
1) What is the book about as a whole?
2) What is being said in detail, and how?
3) Is the book true, in whole or part?
4) What of it?
The 7 techniques to help you stay engaged while reading are:
1) underline the major points
2) use vertical lines at the margin for long passages
3) star or asterisk at the margin for the most important points
4) use numbers in the margin to indicate a sequence of points made by the author
5) use other page numbers in the margin to refer back to relevant points
6) circle key words or phrases
7) write in the margin to record questions
The last point in particular is key. In a speed reading course that I had taken, the instructor said that in order to get more out of the book, you need to ask the right questions. By asking, your mind will be focused on searching for them and thus will be able to extract more than had you not asked. Also, when it comes to marking up the book, don’t be afraid to do so. There’s nothing sacred about books; there’s no rule that you can’t mark them up.
Lastly, prior to actually reading a book, give it a good skim through the jacket, to find out more about the credibility of the author(s), the table of contents, and the chapter that intrigues you the most as this will allow you to decide whether or not the book deserves more of your time.
By Ryan Lee
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