Here is an interesting and always germane question I received five years ago. I would answer the same way today!
How do you go about reading books? Which methods do you use in order to read as much as possibile? How do make plans how much to read? Do you highlight things in books? Do you you’re your own comments? Summaries? Any other tips?
Ah, this is an interesting question. As it turns out, there’s not an easy answer. That’s because there are many different ways I read books, depending on what kind of book it is. I realize we’re talking about books dealing with scholarship – not Victorian novels! But I read different books differently depending on what it is, what it’s about, and what I want/need to get out of it.
When I was in graduate school I had a friend who insisted that anyone should be able to read an entire book of scholarship every day. I had trouble believing him, but in fact it’s true. In fact, when you get good at it, you can read much more than that. It all depends on what you are reading it for; that affects how you go about it.
If I am reading a book in a field that I am basically unfamiliar with, or not intimately familiar with, and it’s an important book filled with data and key insights, I will read the whole thing, cover to cover, and highlight the key lines. I will then go back, chapter by chapter, and take copious notes on what I’ve read. Then I have both my notes for review and a highlighted copy of the book for future reference. This I do for all books that I think are highly significant.
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