Every written work bears some relation to other written works and to the real world of ideas, facts, and truth. Responsible reading does not end with understanding an author’s message but with evaluating that message and relating it to the larger world. Here are some questions to guide your appraisal and utilization of a text:
- Is the author engaged in a conversation or debate with other writers? What can be learned through greater familiarity with that conversation?
- Where does this author’s treatment of a topic fit in the history of how that topic has been discussed?
- What other approaches to this topic are possible or necessary?
- What is the value of this text?
- How might different groups of readers read and receive this text?
- What effect should this text have upon your life and the lives of others?
Addressing questions like these – in conversation, writing, or even just in your mind – will help you retain what you’ve read for the long term.
In order to remember the authors’ ideas more clearly, it is best to review the reading within twenty-four hours of completing it. Construct a chart, diagram, or list to organize and summarize key points.
Because this exercise requires you to organize and re-articulate the author’s ideas, it cements what you’ve read into your mind in your own language and mental categories. This also leaves you with handy notes for later reference.
Other "Better Reading" topics:
Guide to Better Reading Home
Making Strategic Decisions
Becoming a Demanding Reader Home