Tips for Reading in General

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Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
I have begun reading Mortimer Adler's and Charles Van Doren's How to Read a Book. I am only about 12% in, and I have already found it so useful. They have given some very practical tips to help avoid things like fatigue, a wandering mind, and "fixation" while reading. One example was to use a finger to guide the eyes over words. This really addresses the problem of "fixation," which is where the eyes either fixate on a word, or reread a line multiple times before moving on. Studies have shown this is a widespread problem. I found the finger guiding tip to be very useful.

What are some tips that you folks use to help yourself read better, faster, and with more comprehension?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
If you listen to a book you can lift weights or hike while you do it.

Audible has many good audiobooks and is my main way to read right now.

I listened to the whole history of Japan while on a loooong jungle trek several years ago and afterwards thought of the Meiji Restoration every time I crossed a familiar log over a small river. So I retain MORE from audio than actual reading.

Listening to the Bible this way REALLY opens it up and helps me notice things I've never noticed before. The unity of Paul's letter really was brought home to me by listening to them read out loud in their entirety all at once.

Here is an article asserting that listening to a book is just about the same as reading it. And most Americans are way too sedentary anyway. Stay moving and hike while you "read":

https://www.thecut.com/2016/08/listening-to-a-book-instead-of-reading-isnt-cheating.html
 

W.C. Dean

Puritan Board Sophomore
For more difficult works I read it aloud quietly to myself. For some older writers that's almost necessary.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
1) I put all my notes on google drive. I then blog the reviews. When I come across similar thoughts and the like, I hyperlink them in my blog. This will be important later.

2) I slowly read through a larger work over many months. It adds up.

3) Audiobooks when possible.

4) While I don't like ebooks, my library has Hoopla which lets me read middle weight Christian nonfiction on my kindle when I am in bed.

5) For the important works I analyze with pencil (not pen, not highlighter).
 

Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
1) I put all my notes on google drive. I then blog the reviews. When I come across similar thoughts and the like, I hyperlink them in my blog. This will be important later.

2) I slowly read through a larger work over many months. It adds up.

3) Audiobooks when possible.

4) While I don't like ebooks, my library has Hoopla which lets me read middle weight Christian nonfiction on my kindle when I am in bed.

5) For the important works I analyze with pencil (not pen, not highlighter).
6) You never take your physical books boating, in case of accidents.
 

Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
It might come off suspicious if you have a boating accident and no books are lost..........
“Officer, it was an ESV Catholic Edition. I was reading it while out on the water. I set it down right beside my firearms, and it sunk right to the briney deep with them.”

“ESV Davey Jones’ Edition?”

“That’s correct.”
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
“Officer, it was an ESV Catholic Edition. I was reading it while out on the water. I set it down right beside my firearms, and it sunk right to the briney deep with them.”

“ESV Davey Jones’ Edition?”

“That’s correct.”
So you're going to start singing “Girl” as the boat goes down?
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Choose carefully what books you read. Have experienced guides to make recommendations so you don't waste time on time-wasters.

Picking good ones, digest well.

Narrate audibly the points back to yourself to crystallize your thoughts.

If you need to take time, then take the time. A good insight will repay all the struggle to grasp it.

Understand how the thoughts fit into the whole book.

Make connections with things you already know.

Read every book with the intention of making some use of it to God's glory. That is why God gives us any knowledge at all.
 
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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Says the guy with 20,000 PB posts. ;)

Pro-tip:

You can post more if you post hastily without thinking. :hunter:

I beat you with efficiency that way. You guys are all very well-thought out and considerate. But 20k is easy when you spit out knee-jerk reactions while waiting for your steak to cook or your son to put his shoes on or brush his teeth.

Plus, ask Stephen. I don't read. :)

Life is easier when you just give up on John Owen and switch entirely to memes.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Pro-tip:

You can post more if you post hastily without thinking. :hunter:

I beat you with efficiency that way. You guys are all very well-thought out and considerate. But 20k is easy when you spit out knee-jerk reactions while waiting for your steak to cook or your son to put his shoes on or brush his teeth.

Plus, ask Stephen. I don't read. :)

Life is easier when you just give up on John Owen and switch entirely to memes.

KMK, but honestly, I'd love to hear your perspectives more (honestly) instead of me bloviating. I don't even take myself seriously sometimes ("I am not so sure about this guy" I think as I look in the mirror). More soberly, and less funny, is the fact that my illness has shown me how bad of a person I am and where my mind goes when I am in constant pain and people personally attack me (I have Indonesian websites claiming I am a spy). I've struggled with hatred even and have considered renouncing my ordination because I am not worthy and cannot even see how Christ could save a person like me. Many times I return again and again to the Puritanboard for solace or advice. It is a refuge. I say that truly even though one or two of you folks irk me. Ha ha. And I am sure I irk them (but will do better in the future, because you are each precious sons of the King, even if your replies STINK!).

God bless you dear brother.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
It is a refuge.

Same goes for all of us.

The answer to your problem is to spend more time reading the Puritans and less time telling people about Jesus, because God already knows his elect. Thoughts?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Same goes for all of us.

The answer to your problem is to spend more time reading the Puritans and less time telling people about Jesus, because God already knows his elect. Thoughts?

You trying to trigger me brother! :)

p.s I find it funny that the Puritanboard changes the work b..r...o.... automatically to brother. So I guess I need to start calling everyone broseph or dude. I appreciate you guys trying to keep it classy, though.

How did I even get in here, anyway? Thank you for having mercy on me, a poor Barely Reformed man with broad evangelical leanings. Though I almost became a baby sprinkler last year. You guys almost got me! Tricky you are.
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Freshman
One of my favorite quotations on books and reading by the great Dr. Johnson may serve some purpose to the question, albeit indirectly:

"It is observed that 'a corrupt society has many laws;' I know not whether it is not equally true, that 'an ignorant age has many books.'

"When the treasures of ancient knowledge lie unexamined, and original authors are neglected and forgotten, compilers and plagiaries are encouraged, who give us again what we had before, and grow great by setting before us what our own sloth had hidden from our view."
 

wcf_linux

Puritan Board Freshman
1) I put all my notes on google drive. I then blog the reviews. When I come across similar thoughts and the like, I hyperlink them in my blog. This will be important later.

2) I slowly read through a larger work over many months. It adds up.

3) Audiobooks when possible.

4) While I don't like ebooks, my library has Hoopla which lets me read middle weight Christian nonfiction on my kindle when I am in bed.

5) For the important works I analyze with pencil (not pen, not highlighter).

I tend to read at home but sometimes I have to travel for work. Audible is a travelers best friend and I do tend to retain more information at times.

I find for me that audiobooks work better for some kinds of books than others. I've enjoyed The Bruised Reed and Christianity and Liberalism in audio format. The week before last on a work-related road trip, however, I tried Owen's On the Mortification of Sin and found his more intricate style of argumentation didn't work for me on audiobook. I just couldn't follow it closely enough, especially while driving. Ended up having to put on a novel instead.
 

Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
I noticed a significant change in my reading when I went from undergrad philosophy to law school. I didn't consciously make great changes to affect my reading speed and retention, but both of these did change. I attribute it mostly to (i) practice and (ii) method.

(i). Law school required A LOT more reading. The practice of being forced to read daily - and a high volume - naturally led to a rhythm to develop. I noticed my reading speed pick up.

(ii). Secondly, my method of approaching the text contributed to retention. Before, I used to just jump into the text of whatever I was reading. Now, I look at the big picture of the book and see where I am in terms of chapters. Then, I look within the chapter I am reading and flip a few pages to see how long the chapter is and scan a few paragraphs to get a view of the landscape. This helps me understand what the author is trying to say and keep that in mind while I'm reading.

I found using the finger to guide me unhelpful, although I know many people find it useful. The other technique I found helpful was the Pomodoro Technique. Instead of sitting down 4 hours to read, it's best to break it into chunks. A rough outline would be: alternating between reading 25 minutes and resting (doing a completely different task) for 5 minutes. After 2 hours of alternating take a longer break (15 to 30 minutes). If you can only do one interval of 25 minutes, that's fine. But during the 25 minutes of reading you are not allowed to do anything but the task at hand. You may think about the material and take notes, and so on, but no flipping through Facebook and getting distracted by other things. It's a matter of entering into "deep work."
 
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