Thursday, May 5, 2016

Reading with Intention

I must begin with a confession. I am terrible at remembering stories. I'll read a book and not even be able to give you the main plotline in several weeks' time. Not only do I find this sad, it's unfortunate, because what's the point of reading if I'm not going to remember anything? I'm going to summarize my thoughts on how to get more out of the books you read, even if they're just for fun!


~Take Your Time~

Several years ago I was made to read a book titled How to Read Slowly for an intense multi-credit, honors-level highschool course. I could not believe we were wasting our precious time learning how to read slowly when all of us were slow enough as it was! Come to find out, the book was less about speed as it was comprehension. But the title was still relevant, because there is definitely a connection between how quickly you read and how much you remember.

I'm not an uber fast reader to begin with, so my average speed is on the slow side. I think the main thing to remember here is to enjoy the book. I know we all have books we get so caught up in that we just fly through them. There's nothing wrong with that. But if you can relax into whatever your "normal" reading speed may be and deliberately read each word instead of blowing through the pages, you will (1) notice more details, (2) have to go back less, and (3) retain the story better. At least, that's been my experience.

Some of the stories I have followed the best have been the ones I have beta read. Why? Because I was reading slowly and deliberately. I had my eye peeled for errors, typos, and holes. But in forcing myself more alert than usual, I will forever remember those ladies' stories better than a book I pick up from the library. I don't think that's a coincidence.

~Take Notes~

This is another point that comes out when I beta read, because I leave the author suggestions and ideas in the form of comments. Doing this bugged me a little bit at first, because I had to stop reading and type. However, just like with reading slower, I found that I was getting more out of the story by not just zipping through it.

I know not everyone likes to mark up a pretty new book of theirs, but I encourage you to bring yourself to writing in the margins where you can, even if it's only on a Kindle version. I have always regretted not leaving a note when something stood out to me. This was especially the case with The Divergent Trilogy because I have no intention of reading that series again. I am still bummed that I didn't bring myself to use a pencil and underline all the author's references to the nature of man. If I had, I could still go back and see what stood out to me from the book without having to reread it. 

No matter what you are reading, I find that taking the time to complete these two simple steps is always rewarding in the end. Believe it or not, they will actually save you time! I want to be able to recommend a book and say more than, "It was good. I remember I connected with it somehow at some point." Maybe it's just me and you can retain stories better than I can. Either way, I encourage you to pick a book to try these steps and let me know if anything is different for you! And if you really want to get in depth, get a copy of How to Read Slowly by James Sire and see how your reading comprehension improves just by reading with intention.

22 comments:

  1. I am a super fast reader, and I skip a lot, but I re read a lot, sooo that balances. xD

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  2. Ah, nice post! :) I used to read like the wind, but then writing happened. Hehe. Reading sorta got put on a back burner. XD But I still loooovvee reading (despite my miles long TBR list XD).

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I don't get nearly as much reading done as I would like, but that's okay. Writing must happen, because obviously there are people in this world who need more books to read!

      Welcome back to the comments section :D

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  3. Great post!

    I am already a super slooow reader; I am constantly rereading really good lines when I come to them, highlighting, and taking notes on inspiration. It results in a great bookish memory, but also a super long TBR, since I read so slowly. xD

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    1. Thanks! It sounds like you've about got the tricks of the trade down, then. But, yes. Taking a while is the downside ;)

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  4. *gasp* Write ... in our books? *shudders* I don't know if I can do that ... but I kind of like the idea ... I will have to think on this. XP
    I'm not really a fast reader, but I am? Like, I will stay up till 5 A. M. to finish a book. I get this /need/ to finish (if the book is really good) and I cannot put it down.
    I liked this post! I should slow down a bit ... yesyes. *nods to self*

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    1. Aw, come on. You know you can do it!! Writing in your books is good for you! But even I don't write in aaaaaaaaall of them ;)

      Ah, yes. I get in a "mode," too, even though I'm not a super fast reader. Glad you were able to take some things away from it.

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  5. Oh, I probably need to read that book-- like right now! LOL, I am such a speed reader, and I'm trying to slow myself down and read for comprehension better. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Speed reading is really handy sometimes (I wish had the skill), but reading comprehension usually does not go with it ;) If you can master both, you will be one of the most skilled readers ever!

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  6. Ah, a post to guilt me about my reading life, lol. It's true though. How many times have I been going through a book and realize that I haven't actually been "listening" to the story I'm trying to read for like, two pages and I have to go back and reread it? A lot. That happens to me a lot. It happened to me a lot on our trip to California since there were so many distractions around me.
    In general I'm a pretty fast reader, but my reading has suffered a lot the past couple years, so I'm probably not as good as I once was, though it pains me to admit.
    Thank you for the suggestions, reading with intention sounds like a good plan to me.

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    1. You're welcome :) I tune out what I'm reading a lot, too, especially if I'm somewhere new or there's an interesting conversation or music on. We're so easily distracted xD Obviously it's not always an option to hole away to read, but that helps, too :)

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  7. I am a fast reader, but I have a pretty good memory so I don't feel like I miss much.

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    1. Good for you! I used to be more that way. But then my reading got slower because I wanted to make sure I was getting everything (and I started reading harder books). My recall has always been awful!! :(

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  8. I usually remember just about all of what I read, but I liked what you said about reading with intention and reading it slower – word for word. I do that a lot in "deeper" or heavy scenes, whenever I really wanna soak up every word. :)

    I'm a pretty slow reader compared to some. Reading a 300+ page book, unless I have literally NOTHING else to do, is not happenin' for me. ;)

    The only books I've "allowed" myself to write in this far was a couple Bible study-ish books. I don't think I *could* write in a new book, but I can always make notes and stick them in it. ;)

    Lovely post, Abi!!

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    1. Yay! Yes, I tend to do that with slowly developing dramatic parts and then zip through the climax and have to reread it :P I definitely have to have an entire day committed to reading an entire book, too ;)

      There's a good idea! You can leave yourself notes without haveing to write /in/ the book. You're so smart! ;)

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  9. I read really fast, and I tend to remember the majority of what I read. However I know of would help me remember more details if I slowed down and actually read every word. ;)

    I actually really like the idea of writing and underlining in a book ... I'm just not sure I could do it! Really the only book I've ever written in is my Bible. So I will have to ponder the idea and see if I can bring myself to do it!! :)

    Thanks for the post, Abi!!

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    1. Yeah, that tends to be the way it goes. But there is nothing wrong with reading fast as long as your happy with the amount of recall you have :)

      Haha. You know you could do it! There's nothing so exciting as being able to find that part that stuck out to or seeing what you were thinking about a certain scene last time you read the book. So rewarding!

      You're welcome :)

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  10. This is so good, Abi! I completely agree. I'm a pretty fast reader, and while lots of people say they're jealous of me for that reason, it's actually not so great because I tend to not really savor and learn from books. Your reminder to deliberately read each word was really good for me to hear. That's a really interesting point about remembering well the books you beta read, and it makes a lot of sense. And I totally agree about marking in books—it helps me really appreciate them so much better! Great post!

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    1. Thanks! I just figure since I'm not a very fast reader anyway, I'd better pay close attention, or all that time won't do me any good ;) It's very good to be able to speed read when you need to though. Oh the days when I would have loved to be able to do that with some impending school book deadlines!

      Yes, marking in books for the win! How else am I supposed to remember my previous thoughts? It's really neat to see the way the things that stand out to you change, too, depending on the phase of life :)

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  11. I also always forget details about the books I read (yes, even the plot line to some extent). These tips are great! I've started keeping a book journal of sorts, so that I can more easily write reviews for my blog, and it also helps me to remember the books that I read. I highly recommend that as an alternative to writing in the margins. I live in fear of ordering a used book that contains writing.

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    1. Glad this was helpful! It's so sad when you finish a book and can't retell it to anyone :( Journaling sounds like a great alternative option! I may have to give that a try sometime. I have plenty of spare notebooks around ;) I'll admit, I don't enjoy other people's writing in books near as much as my own!

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