3 Thoughts About Binge Reading

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My Laptop in DenverThe Commute

Yesterday I left my house at 5:30am and traveled to Branson Missouri. I checked into my hotel around 9:00pm. Adjust for the two hour time change and you are talking about a thirteen and a half hour trip. Yes, it was long. No, it wasn't fun. But I took advantage of the time I had to read. I brought a few books and went crazy. I read three books on three flights. Here are some thoughts on binge reading.

1. Skimming is Reading (kind of)

I know what you think: there is no way you actually read all three books in one day. Let me respond by saying booya! and then offer to redefine the skill of reading. Mortimer J. Adler wrote work in 1940 titled, How to Read a Book. It is a classic and would blow your mind if it wasn't so boring (sorry Mort). Adler describes several different levels of reading. These levels consist of structural, interpretive, and critical. Structural reading may be called skimming but that's not totally fair. Google structural reading and learn something new. You will be amazed at how helpful this becomes. 

Reading is a skill that you can still develop. You know how to read? Chances are you don't know jack. I consider myself a novice. There is so much more than forming words, sentences, and pages. Reading is a skill that has many layers. Your ability to grasp, understand, and critique ideas will increase greatly when you actually work on reading skills that extend beyond what you learned in grade school.

2. Books are Ideas

When I flew through several books in one day I was struck: each book contained a unique idea. I could sum these ideas and start to piece them out. I should note that it is important to determine what kind of book you are reading before trying to grasp the idea behind it. Yesterday I read one book about philosophy, one about theology, and one about fictional espionage. They all contained ideas; many ideas. The fiction novel portrayed the most abstract concepts about duty, guilt, and love. The other two were very logical and had a clear progression from beginning to end. The ideas presented in these books was much more clear.Don't miss the ideas behind the book you are reading. They are what make your book worth reading. It is also what makes you smarter at the end of the day.

3. Reading is Part of a Conversation

Reading is part of a conversation. The conversation may seem one sided when you read a book. That is why you should read at least two books, perhaps three. When you start to read books around a specific topic you will begin to see the back and forth between authors. This is a high level of reading and requires you to understand the nuances behind a variety of ideas. It would be easy if each author could weigh in a clear YES or NO on any given topic. Its not that clear. Sometimes modern authors argue with guys who have been dead for a long time. Sometimes people change their mind and argue with themselves. This all sounds skitsofrantic but that's ok, jump in! When you write a review or response to a book you suddenly become a part of the conversation. 

Conclusion

Reading books is good. Learning how to read books better is actually a thing. Not speed reading: critical reading. Applying critical thought to what you read is something you should begin doing, even when you read for fun.

Brent ColbyComment