How to Read
Life is short. But that is no excuse for not reading properly. In general terms, this means what you would expect - read carefully and critically. But in case that sounds too vague, here are some more specific recommendations.
Rules for reading
- Reading takes time. Make time for it.
- Get an overall sense of the book first. Read any short summary provided. Skim the introduction and conclusion. Look through chapter by chapter to get a rough sense of each. Look with care at any introductory account of how the book came to be, and how it is structured.
- Especially if the book is not yours, but also if you might want to pass it on, don't SCRIBBLE in it, or underline heavily and intensively (red biro is favoured for some reason) until you run out of energy around page 7. Light pencil marks can easily be removed.
- If you mark your own books, don't make the mistake of looking subsequently only at the passages you marked. It's unlikely you got everything the first time round.
- NEVER 'read' a book by reading ONLY the introduction and the conclusion, unless your objective is to be indoctrinated and you do not have a mind of your own. These parts of the book are equivalent to the estate agent's description of a house.
- Don't assume you must read a book in the order in which it is presented. Often a good place to start is in the middle - not because it is nearer the end, but because it is a likely place to find a strong empirical chapter informed by the theoretical framework adopted. Or with the conclusion, so you know where the book is heading. Either option will give you a better chance of making sense of how the framework is applied.
- Do be prepared to put a book aside and come back to it later. Or never.