Have you ever read a book and forgotten about it or its contents within a couple of days, weeks, or months?
Of course you have. Everyone has. The real question to ask is: why does this happen?
It happens because most of us don’t use effective reading strategies.
This article will show you the best reading strategies to use so you can improve your reading comprehension, read more effectively, and become a stronger reader.
Effective Reading Strategy 1: ASK Questions
You read books because you want to learn specific pieces of information.
Before you get in-depth into any book, ask yourself these questions:
- Why should I read this book?
- What will I get out of reading this book?
- Am I looking to apply certain principles and techniques from the book?
Every book has a main theme, idea, or motif. The chapters of that book comprise the main theme. That chapter itself can be broken down into parts.
If you ask a specific question, you will get a specific answer. The chapters will hold the key to them.
Overall takeaway: The key to great reading is asking great questions.
Effective Reading Strategy 2: Scan the table of contents
There will be times when you don’t need to read the entire book.
If you ask a specific question, only a part of the book may contain that answer. An answer can might be found in the table of contents.
For example, you buy a book on building muscle. You want to know the best workout for a strong back. What do you do?
Go to the table of contents and look for a chapter on “back exercises”.
If you want to break it down further, you can skim the chapter for specific back exercises.
Overall takeaway: The table of contents (or index) has the knowledge you need a specific time. Scan it first to see if there’s a specific section you need to read first.
Effective Reading Strategy 3: Close reading
Close reading is a technique that’s used to increase reading comprehension.
To close read, follow these steps:
- Read and annotate – Read with pencil, pen, or highlighter in hand and underline key words, phrases, and sentences.
- Write in margins – Write little phrases, notes, or quotations in the margins related to the text that you’re reading.
- Look for patterns – Pattern recognition helps close reading. What is the author trying to say and why are they saying it now?
Overall takeaway: Close reading helps you understand what you’re reading and how it relates to your original question.
Every book is centered around one single idea, lesson, or motif.
Effective Reading Strategy Step 4: The Application
You need to take action. You need to take these effective reading strategies and apply them. This is the main way you improve your reading comprehension.
How can you make your life better than what it is right now by reading this book? What lessons can you learn from it? How will you make it a permanent part of your worldview?
The way humans learn is through repetition. Read these books so that they become a part of you. Put books on your bookshelf then come back to them when you have some kind of road block in your life that relates to that book. It’s like someone rewrote the whole book.
In addition to repetition, we learn by associating things with certain ideas. This is the cornerstone of deliberate practice and learning new skills. Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool call these “mental representations” in their book Peak. When you apply something from a book to your life, you’re hard wiring it deeper into your brain.Reading without application is like loading a gun and not firing it. Click To Tweet
Don’t be one of those egotistical people who read books for the sake of reading books. That’s not reading books effectively. The man who has 5 books and knows them inside out is much better off than the man who has 500 and can’t remember a single word.
Determine what it is that you’re going to take action on in your life. Start with one area. Once that’s done, move to the next. And the next. Soon, you’ll start to connect the dots between ideas. Certain ideas that seemed like they were unrelated start to come together. You start to grasp the world with greater understanding and insight but that’s only if you take action on what you read.
Just so you know, effective reading is a lifelong endeavor. You’ll always be seeking out new forms of knowledge in response to new problems or things that pop up in your life. Using these effective reading strategies will help you absorb knowledge at a much higher level leading to a greater and more fulfilling life.