Re-learning how to read

As a graduate student, and an academic, I have to do a lot of reading. Reading for the classes I take. Reading what I assign to my students. Reading for my thesis. Reading for papers. But it wasn’t until recently that I figured out I’ve been taking the wrong approach to reading.

Let me take a moment to say this: do whatever works for you. This is simply how it is working for me right now. Everyone learns in their own way. But if you don’t know how other people learn, you don’t know what options you have.

Recently, I can’t remember where, someone said that you need to read things twice. First, just read through it. Don’t pause to take notes or tag or underline. Just read through it. Then go back and read it again. This is when you pause to jot down thoughts, make note of a page, etc.

It is working for me. I feel like trying to read through and take notes at the same time wasn’t the most effective way, but I didn’t think there was another way of doing it. I feel like I’d be on a roll and that pause would completely throw me off. Sometimes I would even put the book down.

But last night I read about the last 1/3 of Uncanny X-Men: The Complete Collection by Matt Fraction Vol. 1 and all of Vol.2 in this way. I simply read. To give some perspective, these trade paperbacks are around 300 pages each. But now I feel like I can go back and read them again and be able to take better notes for my thesis. It also allowed my brain to process the story in a way that gave me a new perspective on something for my thesis.

Hopefully this weekend I’ll be doing that with my reading for class on Tuesday. I think this is going to help me with the mountain of reading I have every week. And it might free up time for me to get writing, too.

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