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Five Tips for Making the Most of Your Reading

Zachary Stocks


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Ask why about what you are reading.
Ask Why

1. Ask Why You are Reading This

Each book you read should be approached differently. We read novels for entertainment, biographies to learn about a particular person, and other non-fiction to gain insight on topics ranging from history to science to politics and beyond. It's important to ask why you are reading any particular book before you begin. What do you hope to get out of the text? Do you have any questions about the subject before beginning? Doing this will help you know what to look for as you read, and recognize when you have come across something significant in the text.

Take notes while you read.
Take Notes

2. Take Notes

Benjamin Franklin said, I would advise you to read with a pen in hand...for this will be the best method of imprinting such particulars in your memory. Taking notes is one of the best ways to enhance your reading and remember more of what you read. By interacting with the text in this way you are more likely to relate to the text, find answers to your questions, and become more expert in the subject which you are reading. Write down your impressions, questions, and key take-aways.

Summarize what you read in your own words.

3. Summarize in Your Own Words

It is a good idea to create a summary of each chapter as well as the entire book once you've finished reading it through. Rephrasing the main ideas in your own words is a great way to test your understanding of the topics covered as well as solidify them in your mind. It doesn't have to be a book report, but a quick paragraph or two can go a long way towards enhancing your reading.

Read and re-read.
Read & Repeat

4. Read and Repeat

You will be surprised how much you can get out of a book after rereading it. Depending on the book it may be helpful to reread a single chapter once or twice before moving on. Generally, I like to do a first reading while taking simple notes, then reread it; knowing what to expect the second time through I can take more in depth notes, summarize, and broaden my understanding.

Ask meaningful questions about your reading.
Ask Questions

5. Ask Meaningful Questions

As you take notes and summarize, asking questions is one of the best things you can do. Books can help you get answers to your questions, but a thoughtful reader will often come away with more questions. This is a good thing, because it leads to continued learning. You are likely not the first person to ask such questions and good questions will often lead to your next book.