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Forced to Learn 12/7/08

Because I choose not to watch television anymore I do a lot more reading.  I'm not trying to brag about it as though I'm superior; I'm actually jealous.   Television is so relaxing, and it makes you laugh and it helps pass the time.  I don't have TV because we can't get cable here, and the rabbit ears I have only lets us see one channel.  Its really hard watching only CBS.  So I'm forcing myself to read more.  I'm not really a fan of fiction,  I read mostly non-fiction.  Perhaps that's just the engineer in me.

Book Reading and Note Taking

 So now I read a lot more, but my mind is so feeble that I cannot retain what I'm reading.  By the time I'm done with the passage, its gone in one ear and out the other.   I've just started to take notes during my pleasure reading and so far its been a great success.  Here's a pattern which I think is successful.

  • Read the passage jotting down things you think are important.
  • When you're done think of a question about the passage and write it down.
  • Think...
  • Answer the question the best you can, write that down too.

If your writing more than your reading, you're doing it wrong  (unless this is a tome of great knowledge - which I doubt).  This is just to help you pull the passage together from memory.  At most you'll have a page of notes for your passage.

I think this works with non-fiction well.  I guess if the work is fiction, just try to get the plot down, and then try to see what the author is trying to do: flesh out characters, build up suspense, whatever.

 I think you'll find your experience much more productive and satisfying.  You'll retain more of what you've read, and you might even synthesize your own new thoughts.  Wouldn't that be fun!

Links/Books/References: 

How to read a book

What smarts students know