If you haven’t read Part 1 to this blogpost then the LGT Team recommends checking that out before continuing here as it provides basic outlines on getting started with reading a book effectively. Firstly, it is important we credit the authors of ‘How to Read a Book’, Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren – we highly recommend reading this book.
In Part 2 we will cover the more in-depth skills of reading — this will help you when you begin annotating and recording the details of your book in an effort to gain a deeper understanding. Below are our favourite tips from the masterminds of ‘How to Read a Book’:
How To Read – Making a Book Your Own
In the last blogpost we discussed the importance of remaining alert while reading a book. Here we will go through strategies which will allow you to annotate “intelligently and fruitfully”.
a) Underlining – well known technique of highlighting or underlining important moments in a book, quotes and major statements
b) Vertical lines at the margin – placing vertical lines around important passages which may be lengthy
c) Numbers in the Margin – to note an important sequence of events or arguments
d) Writing in the margin – record questions, or even answers which a passage or statement may raise in your mind. Doing this will increase alertness while reading and allow you to answer questions or note a personal thought that may enhance your understanding of the book. Ideally, this will lead to better arguments when formulating your essays.
How To Read #2 – Note-Making
Note-making is not a step many students engage in when reading a book for class, and therefore you may not see it as necessary. The reality however is that this step is integral to breaking down and understanding a text.
a) Note-Making Structural: This concerns the building blocks of the book and requires you to explore the structure which allows for the book’s thematic wwwelopment. Basic ideas you need to become aware of at this stage include the kind of book you are reading, what the book is about from a holistic perspective and what stages the storyline progresses through.
b) Annotation. This is a stage which LGT has integrated directly into its own academic strategies. After finishing a book you will have undoubtedly have highlighted and underlined many important points and quotes — now you need a way to collate this information in a useful way. We suggest you begin inputting that information into a document with a series of sections including, for example, an area for character quotes, theme wwwelopment, conflict analysis. This will allow you to break down your text and get to a stage where you have analysed all its significant progressions. By doing this, when it comes time to be assessed there’s no need to re-read your book — instead, you have all the relevant information recorded in an accessible way.
We hope these last two blogposts have given you a few tips on how to go about tackling your VCE books, or any books you may be dealing with. In future blogposts we can go into detail about “Syntopical” reading, but for now, we wish you the best of luck!