This is how you can read better: critical thinking

   Reading well comes from thinking well. That is why the skill of critical thinking is essential for a good healthy reading habit.

   Critical thinking is something that will save your life, by leading you to the right path and keeping wrong biased ideas away. Critical reading is implementing this mindset with books. It’s about freeing yourself from all restrictions, asking deep questions, and studying every idea from different perspectives.

a vintage looking book

Critical reading

    Many readers fall into a naive reading style. They go through papers as if they are approved to be right. They play the role of a recipient of any information they read.

   Reading passively will lead to no good, no improvement or learning. Since the secret of learning is thinking plainly, reading must follow the path of critical thinking to be helpful.

   A critical reader is someone who reads actively, doesn’t accept every piece of information, and analyzes what he reads.

  “You are a reader, and therefore a thinker, an observer, a living soul who wants more out of this human experience.” ― Salil Jha

Here, I share with you what it takes to be a critical reader:

Think about the writer

   Knowing the writer is a big part of reading a book. It is your first introduction to where this book is coming from. When writing something, an author automatically leaves his touch. And if you know a writer enough, you’ll notice his style, words, and even his feelings in all his works.

   That’s exactly what I discussed in a previous post: In every book, there is a part of the writer.

   So we can say that a writer’s background matters when you try to critically read a book. It helps you see his ideas clearly and think about why and how he composed them this way.

Read slowly

   Speed reading is a common thing that everyone wants to advise you with. And I declare that I’m personally not a big fan of that.

    When something brings me joy, I would rather have some more minutes to savor it. To learn and enjoy more of what I read. I do not care about the amount of time as long as I’m having a deep insight into that book.

   Here is the thing:

   What matters is never how long it took you to read it, but how you read it. The effort you put in to understand what it’s said. The way you close the book every now and then to overthink it in your head. The slower you read, the more you grasp.

Take notes and write summaries

   Similarly to the importance of taking notes in a class, it helps you read a book deeply as well. Taking notes is the skill of constantly summarizing general ideas while you go through the book.

   And under the same concept, there are summaries. Making a summary at the end of each book has a ton of benefits. But mainly, it gives you the chance to rethink everything you read, making sure you read it actively and you can tell it to someone else.

   Personally, I take notes at the end of each chapter when it’s a non-fiction book. Otherwise, I use annotations (those cute sticky notes we all love and admire) to mark important events or emotions. 

   And after each read, I summarize the book just for fun. It makes it easier to recap what I learned if the purpose was learning, or to remember the events and how I felt about them.

a hand raised to the sky among flowers

Conclusion

What you take from this is:

  • You must follow critical thinking and be active while reading.
  • Acknowledging the writer is a big part of reading a book.
  • Slow reading helps you grasp the content and enjoy it more.
  • Taking notes and summaries are great ways to reestablish what you read in your head.

   And now, did you start your reading habit yet?   If not, click here to get a simple guide.

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