Reading is the same as performing art. It involves using your brain to its imaginative extreme. The way we read books varies from person to person. In fact, the quality that we get from reading depends on how we read the book.
Some hustle through their busy schedules and find the time to read the book. Some might even go through a reader’s block, preventing them from reading anything at all. Yet, after all these struggles, I have heard people say how difficult it is for them to retain the memory of what they have read. Or, how reading has become a desperate attempt without being fruitful and insightful as it used to be.
It may sound odd to teach a person how to read a book more effectively but it’s not that odd to let someone know how they can make their reading process a wholesome one. Here are some tips to reinstall the lost spirit:
Are we actually reading?
Imagine that you are reading a book and two pages into the book you realize that you were reading involuntarily and that you registered nothing in your brain. Then you re-read the same pages but still manage to register nothing. Frustration builds up and you give up the book entirely. But here is the good news. There is a scientific reason behind this frustration.
We consume instant information on the internet. This means we tend to develop a habit of expecting the same from our books. Our behaviours are manifestations of our online habits. For example, doom scrolling or scrolling through the feed is a common habit and guess what, we subconsciously do this offline as well. Most of us are unknowingly skimming through the book without reading it actively.
Books require patience and a considerable amount of concentration to fully grasp the content. The habit of skimming, however, prevents us from missing out on the details. According to BBC, the increase in screen reading and the decrease in the physical use of books are the main causes of this habit. The possible solution to overcome this habit is to adapt yourself to both books and E-books by reading a fair amount of both.
Also Read: Books on Magical Realism by Malayali Authors
Communicate with the book
Books communicate to you but have YOU ever tried communicating to the book?
If you belong to the group that religiously takes care of the book from scribbles or leaf folds then I am sorry to disappoint you.
For those who don’t, as you read the book, scribble down your thoughts, the remarks (it could even be an adjective), etc. on the page that you are reading. You don’t have to go all Shakespearean to write what you feel. Annotate your books, mark the lines that resound with you, tell the book why that idea/trope it has mentioned is wrong and why you think so. If you are good at doodling/drawing, draw a rough sketch of your favorite character in that book, draw dialogue bubbles; make use of the free spaces in between the paragraphs.
It’s also an introspective activity that will detangle certain internalized notions of yours. At the end of the reading journey, you would have this beautiful book which has a piece of you though it might not look very tidy!
Ever heard of book journaling?
A few days ago, one of my acquaintances told me, “Eda, I have read a fairly good amount of books but I am unable to retain most of the information.” This statement hit me hard.
Before you relate to this and feel sad about it, hear me out. The fact is that people only remember 10-20% of the content from what they have read. It’s okay if you can’t recite “shall I not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments” when you are having a moment or include literary references when you are making a normal conversation. But there is something you can do to enjoy and get the best out of reading. Book journaling or a reading log is a great idea to recall all the information you’ve read.
You can use websites like Goodreads or go the old school way with pen and paper. Book journaling needn’t be fancy and sophisticated like the popular BUJO (bullet journaling) templates. A simple list of TBR (To be read), notes about the book you are reading, the basic info like the name of the author, genre of the book, the day of initiation and completion of your reading, etc can be mentioned. This is also a great alternative for those readers who don’t like to scribble on their book. You can jot down the points in your journal as you are reading the book. For some, this activity might sound mechanical resembling how note-taking is to studying but it’s all up to you to choose the best way for you.
Let loose of your imagination
People spend time thinking about what they have read. Most often, it’s an involuntary process. You won’t actually realize you have been dreaming about the book until it breaks at some point.
Thinking about the book you have read is an imaginative process that binds you with the book and its characters. You are most often put in the position of the protagonist or your favorite character in the book as you think about a scene or anecdote described in the book. This is what makes reading a more interactive process. These kinds of deep thoughts help us to understand more about the book.
It’s also true in the case of non-fiction books but very few people do it. In the case of non-fiction books, you can imagine yourself narrating the knowledge to someone else or you can imagine yourself applying what’s told in the books to your life as in the case of self-help books.
Sharing with others
Good books and good thoughts are to be shared, they will never be known unless you share them with others. it isn’t necessary to share your book (ahem ..ahem) but you can always share your opinion or urge the other person to read this particular book by giving a plot summary. You would be surprised to know the different readings exist for the same book.
Have a conversation with your friends about the book that you have read. Not only does this help you to get a new perspective but also helps you to gain an insight into the other persons’ morals and values. Couples should definitely try reading dates, trust me it does wonders.
Don’t skip the introduction
Most of us skip the introduction to get to the interesting part but sometimes introductions give more interesting insights into the book.
It’s necessary to know about the backdrop of a novel to fully understand the context. Most introductions are brief about the backdrop of the novel, about the journey of writing the novel, occasional interesting facts about the novel, and so on. Some translated versions of the books have a critical analysis of the translator which explains most of the aspects of the writing style to the plot of the novel.
However, it is advised to read the introduction once you have completed reading the book as the introduction contains a good amount of spoilers. If you are a reader who reads the footnotes as well, we love you!
Art is diverse, so are your reading habits. The above-mentioned tips are suggestions and could be personalized. Do let us know if these tips made any impact on you. Also, in case you have your own methods, let us know that too.