Essay on Reading
March 23, 2009
Any good writer knows about the impact that reading can have on his/her work, as well as that in order to be able to fully understand and digest a piece of literature, one should follow the basic guidelines of active reading, the type of reading where a reader subjects a writing to a critical analyze by using different types of reading techniques (Stubbs, Barnet, and Cain, 2). However, every reader, just like every writer, has his/her own style of reading that is composed of or is guided by a combination of different standard techniques set by active reading. Navigated by the guidelines of active reading, a reader can experience a book as a whole, without missing any important parts or ideas, while at the same time have an opportunity to establish a writer’s persona and subject his/her work to critical thinking.
In order to explore further on the different reading styles I had an opportunity to interview a classmate, Valeriya Pupchenko, and compare her approach to reading with mine. It was clear from the beginning that we enjoy similar types of literature for our leisure reading, however our tactic of picking a book and the pre reading actions have their differences. In order to pick an appropriate book for her purposes Valeriya prefers to rely on the title of the book and the authors note (Pupchenko, Valeriya). The title may provide a clue by using different methods presenting a book (Stubbs, Barnet, and Cain, 3). A title can have the ability to attract a reader with intriguing or appealing sound, or it can simply attract a reader by presenting the contents of the book in just a few words. Although a title does not always gets to the point of the book, a reader can often rely on the title of a book to get a sense of what he/she is getting.
Another method of getting to know more about a piece of literature is by reading the author’s note which often summarizes the context of the book. the author’s note also usually has the information about the writer and the book’s origins and its purpose. From the author’s note a reader can establish the writer’s persona and the style of writing. Author’s note is one of Valeriya’s techniques of reading a book and even though she sometimes finds that it gives away the plot of the story, she thinks that this is a helpful way of looking up a book (Pupchenko, Valeriya). I, on the other hand find the author’s note too vague to determine whether or not the book has the desired topic. I have also noticed that compared to the book itself, the author’s note tends to be written in a different style of writing. It is because of these reasons I prefer to read the book first and if I find the book interesting I come back to the author’s note in order to find out more about the writer.
When doing a research Valeriya finds it very useful to annotate and underline the key phrases (Pupchenko, Valeriya). This technique helps her to have a quick overview of the read material without missing any important details. I, also, find this technique convenient and helpful, although I prefer taking notes to annotating because it allows me to keep things organized and in one specific place rather than spread all over the place. however my notes are not a summary of the text, but individual phrases that I find important. Summarizing is a useful technique that neither I nor Valeriya like to use, for the simple reason of time consumption.
Index is probably the most convenient part of the book when searching for a specific topic. Skimming is another skill that saves time and helps to focus on the main ideas, even though it puts a reader at risk of missing on important ideas. These are the two techniques that I and Valeriya both find essential to a good research.
in order to reduce the risk of missing information it is useful to pay attention to the thesis, headings, key phrases, first sentences of the paragraph, and the conclusion (Stubbs, Barnet, and Cain, 5).
Active reading also includes other helpful techniques, such as previewing, engaging in critical thinking, and finding out about the author and the place of publication (Stubbs, Barnet, and Cain, 2-17). While previewing a piece of literature a reader should pay attention to the genre of the book and the original place of publication because it will provide a reader with the clues to what was the targeted audience. Subjecting a work to critical thinking provokes the reader to pay a close attention to details.
Different people have different habits and methods they use when they read a piece of work, however the origins of these techniques can be traced to come from active reading. When a reader follows the basic approaches of previewing, skimming, and critical thinking, the process of reading becomes more comprehensive and beneficial. Active reading doesn’t only assists a reader in analyzing a piece of literature in a way that shows the full and complete picture of the book, but it also helps a reader to become also a better writer because a person can approach analytically to his/her own work just as if it was someone else’s.
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