Reading is fascinating. But it can also be frustrating if you just cross off your book list without going into depth. Do you often forget what you have just read? Or have you ever spent a lot of time on finishing a book but in the end you couldn’t tell the main ideas of the book clearly?
It is not about your inability to memorize things. But you’re just not active enough in reading.
READING INEFFECTIVELY MIGHT BE FRUSTRATING
Reading quickly just for the sake of completing a book is a mistake we easily make. We skim through paragraphs in the hope of absorbing as much information as possible within a short period of time. But then we only focus on the parts we understand and miss out the full picture presented in the book. It is unlikely that we will be able the recall the content after a day or so.
A common question that we usually ask ourselves after reading is whether we like the book or not. While this is also important as reading is supposed to be fun, simply asking this kind of yes-no question cannot make reading meaningful and reflective. Worse still, if we only stick with the books we like, we will limit our exposure to different knowledge.
To practice active reading, generating a list of questions before digging into the content is a good approach.  But you might wonder what kinds of questions you should ask and here are some questions that you might want to take a look for reference:
1. IF I CAN GET ONLY 3 THINGS FROM THE BOOK, WHAT ARE THEY? HOW WILL I APPLY THEM IN DAILY LIFE?
Some books consists of piles of information that we might feel overwhelmed. Sometimes it is better not to overestimate our abilities to memorise things because we can rarely get more than 3 messages from a book. Keep identifying what information is more useful to you when you read. After all, there’s no point of remembering or jotting down information that you can’t apply in daily life as it is very likely that you will forget it the next day.
2. WHAT ARE THE ARGUMENTS OR SUGGESTIONS MADE BY THE WRITER?
No one writes without any purposes. Even the book is a novel instead of the practical type, the authors have some purposes in their minds, either to convey messages or to persuade readers. Spending some time to figure out their key points makes us easier to digest the whole piece without missing any important insights.
3. WHAT PROBLEMS DOES THE WRITER ATTEMPT TO SOLVE?
Nearly every book is about problem-solving. Even in a book about literature, there is always a climax in the plot and that’s what the writer attempt to solve. The problem indicated might not be explicit but if we can find it out, we can always learn from it to improve our problem-solving skills.
4. WHAT STRATEGIES DOES THE WRITER USE TO CONVEY THE KEY IDEAS IN THE BOOK?
Reading is one of the good ways to improve our writing skills. We can pay extra attention to the writing style of the writers and how their ideas are presented, such as the diction, rhetorical devices and organisation used, to make our writings more appealing to readers.
5. WHAT DO I KNOW ABOUT THE TOPIC OF THE BOOK COVERS? HOW WHAT THE BOOK SAYS IS DIFFERENT FROM WHAT I ORIGINALLY KNOW?
We usually give up reading a book because we find no connection between what we know and what the book talks about. Before reading, it is better for us to do some brainstorming and to recall your previous knowledge related to the topic so that you are ready to explore more.
6. ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR THINGS I DO NOT UNDERSTAND IN THE BOOK?
It is quite impossible to be know-it-all so it is quite certain that we will encounter with something which seems unfamiliar, or something that we don’t agree on. Skipping those parts is not the best solution for it because this would limit our horizons. Instead, delving into the unfamiliar parts or opposite ideas is the best way to take ourselves to another level.
7. WHICH PART OF THE BOOK I LIKE OR DISLIKE? AND WHY?
Reading a book is not about reading the text only but also reading ourselves. Asking ourselves this question enables us to be reflective learners. Discovering more about our tastes allows us to choose a better reader that fits our preferences.
It might take a longer time for us to read a book if we practice active reading using the above questions. But we can definitely gain a lot more because we wouldn’t rush just to finish a book without digesting the ideas.