The Art of Reading

Athenus Mindfulness Training

What is reading?

Reading is quintessentially a self-therapy. It is one of the highest forms of exercise one’s brain can get. It serves as a means for a person to be intelligent. It makes people open to new ideas and new cultural beliefs. It makes a person understand how little he/she knows after crossing 100+ books. These are few benefits of reading. In spite of so many goodies, most people hardly read. The simple act of choosing a book in a weekend and completing it is like a legend now. I had the experience when I was new to the big metro to find a job and then a name for myself from a small town. I was supposed to meet a friend who was in the metro for the past 5 years. He asked me to come to a mall which was a bit far away. I was just 2 months old in the metro and I requested to tell him another place as it would be hard for me to reach the mall.

He mocked me for not being to mall after 50 days in metro. I requested him to meet me in the state library which also has a museum inside it. He was totally not aware that there is a library in the building. All he knew was museum and this time I mocked him for not knowing library being in metro for 5 years. This might be funny, but this is a harsh reality too. None of my friends have library subscription but most of them have Amazon prime and Netflix. But this blog post is not about the people who don’t read books, it is about people who think they read books and actually don’t.

The four important things according to me:

These are the 4 important things about reading.

  1. If you have read 100 books, but read them all only once, you have read zero books.
  2. If you are quoting the author of any book, then you have not fully understood the context.
  3. If you cannot make cross references, while reading a book, you have not read properly
  4. If you cannot do cross disciplinary reading, then you are still a novice in reading books.

I have a process to achieve all these and I would like to share that with you. I read both fictions and non fictions and I follow a slightly different procedure for both of them.  But the commonalities are taking notes, going through it, reading review, discussing the book. Let me present my process of reading book.

Nonfiction:

I read the first chapter and then note down the points which I feel important are mentioned in the chapter. I go the next chapter and do the same. Likewise I complete all the chapters. Then once the book is complete, I read all the notes I have written down in a single stretch. This gives me an Idea, what is the essence I have got from the book. Then I try to read the whole book again, now continuously. This time I begin to notice the points I may have missed due to my cognitive bias. I note those points in the book itself. After reading the whole book, I search for reviews, both print and video. This is to validate my understanding of the book. Then I try to offer a presentation to my friends, about the book. In this I cross refer books from my previous reads and try to form simple metaphors and examples to emphasis my point.

Fiction:

While reading Fiction, I read the book completely and then note down all the important characters in the novel. Then I try to list their character traits beside them, then I mark 5 to 7 crucial situations for each character and try to analyze why they have acted, or reacted in certain manner, that is mentioned in the novel. I then counter intuitively check, if they could have acted or reacted better. This helps me to follow my emotions when I read a piece of fiction. The processing is deliberately shifted from Amygdala  to Prefrontal cortex and frontal lobes and then back to Hippocampus. This makes me aware of my emotions and I now practice the art of thinking on my emotions. Then I read reviews and present the book to my friends group.

This way of reading books is very challenging, but most rewarding. The book is now internalized in such a manner; it is hard for me to quote the author. I am able to build upon ideas and hence develop an important product which is commonly called as THINKING.  I feel reading is not an end, but a means. It is a means to make humans THINK. And through this process I am able to do it. Please try this and let me know if it clicked with you too.

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