At one point I could read 300 pages or more a day. I wish I could return to that period in my life to increase reading up to 500 pages a day. It was the only way I could get through graduate studies in the United States. Serious! No kidding.
So it seems. Even if I am no longer the master of the habit I still read what is required of me to remain alive, intelligent, and above the challenges before me. I am the master of my habits. The reading habit has been on my report card for sometime now. I need to do something about it. It remains my chief responsibility to direct my reading habit to work for me. I am the master of my own reading habit. No one can tell me that my reading habit has failed to deliver what I need.
It is National Book Week. A time we remind ourselves about the importance of books, literature, reading and writing in our lives. It is a time for us to reflect on our experiences as readers and writers of books. Often in this week schools did various activities around the world of books, reading, and writing.
This year I participated as guest writer at the Paradise High School. I was invited to speak about my life as a writer and reader. I accepted the invitation because sharing my experience with young people helps them to stay focused on the most important element in their education: books and reading habits.
There are seven reading techniques I use in my life:
1 1.Skim reading for information I need to equip me for the day. This is a fast reading that requires fast processing of information without needing to grasp the details.
2. Active reading is for me to gain more knowledge or insights into a particular idea, conception, or object. Often in this kind of reading I am making notes on what I need to know that is important.
3. Recognize the elements of style and language different writers use to master the graft of writing. Good writing is easier to read and follow. Good writing styles are imitable to those who seek a uniquewriting style.
4. Reading with a purpose involves reading several books at the same time to cover as much ground and a wider range of subjects in one day. The importance of reading for a purpose is that you can learn as much as you like by reading different subject areas. The approach here is to read at least 50 pages of several books until you have read 250 pages. Assume that you have five books to read. All you have to do is decide to read at least 50 pages of one book, then 50 pages of another, and continue to read 50 pages of another book until you have reached the target number of total pages you have to read in a day. That is your reading goal.
5. Re-reading is a technique used to re-read books you had read previously, but re-reading again to appreciate the book or article more for what you might have ignored, overlooked, or under-appreciated in your first reading.
6. Depth reading is done for the purpose of identifying the buried treasures in the world of books and published literature. Many scholars and writers do this kind of reading. Many Bible readers do this kind of reading.
7. Reading to learn and be smart is the kind of reading my children do in school or at home. That is the answer I received from them on asking them why they read. This kind of reading is a general reading that is well--general. Many school children and students think of reading in this vague notion that they read to learn and be smart. True, but to be smart and great you need to read using some of the techniques discussed above.
Without reading the way I described my reading habit I always feel empty. Reading any other way gets me no where. The challenge of reading for me is to remain on top of the amount of reading I have to do as a lecturer and as a student of law. Either I am reading books or articles relevant and current in the Humanities and Social Sciences or I am reading cases in law as prescribed by the course lecturers. I know that reading is the key to unlocking the vault of knowledge the text before me conceals.
It is said reading renders visible the unseen, the unknown, or the deep mysteries of our times. God has buried his deepest secrets in us. Through reading and reflection we can uncover some of these mysteries just so that our human condition is explained in terms of the vast knowledge we have of it.
Reading pays off. Jack Canfield’s advice is “learn more to earn more… People who have more information have a tremendous advantage over people who don’t. And although you may think it takes years to acquire the knowledge you would need to become supersuccessful, the truth is that simple behaviours such as reading for an hour a day, turning television time into learning time, and attending classes and training programs can make it surprisingly easy to increase your knowledge—and substantially increase your level of success.”
We can learn from the advice Jack Canfield received from his mentor, W. Clement Stone regarding the subject of saving time and reading: “You can learn a new language, get superfit, spend quality time with your wife or children, learn to play a musical instrument, make more sales calls, or go back to school and get a degree. But what I most recommend is that you read for an hour a day. Read inspirational autobiographies of successful people. Read books on psychology, sales, finance, and health. Study the principles of successful living.”
I hope the lessons offered this week will remain a cornerstone of a successful reading life.