Learn Active Reading

Written by on September 12, 2020

The longest book in the world is called, Umm excuse my french, “A la recherche du temps perdu”.

Translated to english it means “A remembrance of things past”.

This book is recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records as the longest book in the world because it measures character count. A staggering 1.6 million characters or letters.

Can you imagine reading a book that heavy and that intense! It would probably be one of those books you started enthusiastically but couldn’t finish reading.

We often read a book and forget what happened on the previous page itself! Does this happen to you? You are reading and reading and suddenly you realise you have no idea what happened on the previous few pages. So you go back and reread it.

Or how about this, You put the book down for twenty minutes, go and make coffee come back and start reading. After about three paragraphs you realise that you have already read this.

All this back and forth causes you to lose interest in reading. My grandfather famously used to complain about this. He was a successful entrepreneur but uneducated so had a hard time reading.

Every time my grandmother would call him he had to put down the book and re-read the last chapter when he got back to it. So he kept saying, this is why he had never finished a book in his life.

I am sure this is happening to you as well!

The reason this takes place is that we are not focused while reading. Our attention wanders towards what to make for dinner or that task on your to-do list. Reading becomes a passive, background activity.

We need to make reading more active and focused. There are a number of things you can do for this.

You can underline the words you are reading with your fingers or a closed pen. The same way we were taught how to read in school. The finger under the line follows the words you are reading. This makes you more mindful of the text you are reading.

Another thing you can do is make highlights or notes on the side of the book when you find something interesting. This way it reinforces an idea back into your mind.

Or at the end of a chapter you can stop and try to recall what happened and what were the important things mentioned.

While all these things take effort and appear more time consuming. Over the course of a book, re-reading the same things over and over because you forgot what was mentioned is far more time consuming.

So the way to keep track of active reading is to create a rule for yourself. The rule is that you will never re-read a paragraph or a page or a chapter. Once read, you will move on.

It doesn’t matter if you can remember it or not. Never go back and re-read. This might sound like madness but being strict with yourself for a few books, will make it easier going ahead.

So your simple habit to start reading faster is to become an active reader. Never re-read the page again this is the rule you read by. Use a tool to make sure you are completely focused and in the moment while you read.

If you are like my grandfather and find it hard to complete books, this habit is for you. Active reading is such a joy.

Continue reading