How I READ a Book
Until recently, I used to read books. But, a man in one of my book clubs inspired me to rethink my actions. He has a notebook where he records things he finds interesting about the books he reads. Needless to say, he’s able to contribute so much to our discussions.
You see, there’s reading, and then there’s READING! The first is simply letting the words register in your brain and reacting to them. The second…let’s just say it involves the little grey cells (with a wink to Hercule Poirot).
So I decided to stop reading, and start READING. And, being a list maker, I developed a plan.
- Read the book as usual making notes along the way about character names, how they’re related to each other, any major events with page number references, and any passages I like with page references.
- Answer this question: Do I like, dislike, or somewhat like the book? Why?
- How is the book written? Is it easy to follow the story? Does it take place in one time or flip between the past and the present? Is there one main character, two, or more? Is there too much bad language, sexual innuendo, raw violence, or dialect that is hard to read?
- Determine the theme or themes of the book, and look for passages that back up my choice(s).
- See how the main characters have changed from the beginning of the book to the end of the book. Find examples in the book to show this change.
- Have I learned anything from this book?
- Now that I’ve answered all these questions, have I changed my mind about whether I like, dislike, or somewhat like this book? Why?
I confess, I don’t do this with every book I read. There are some authors that are like old friends. I sit back, crack open their latest book, and savor the experience from the first word. But, my list helps with new authors, book club books, and books I intend to review on my website.
Now it’s your turn. What do you consider while reading a book?
I always read books from a writing viewpoint to see what I can learn about what worked for me as a reader. I’ve been known to make notes as well.
But when I get lost in the story it’s a WIN too! Good job Deborah!
Thanks, Daphne. Since I began writing, I read books differently. Things I never noticed before jump out at me, whether it’s something I’ve been taught not to do, or a sentence or paragraph that’s written particularly well.
I must admit, I read mainly for entertainment. If a particular turn of phrase or passage grabs me, I do highlight and make notes in the margins. I read all my non-fiction with highlighter and colored pens.
Great idea, Deb. This is a good one!
Thanks, Debbie. Left to my own devices, I’d only read mysteries and suspense. So I joined two book clubs, and my reading horizons have broadened, benefitting my writing. There are so many good books out there!
This is really well put, Debbie! And I also echo what Daphne said. I read from a writing standpoint, and I write from a reading standpoint. I think it helps me to challenge myself to look at the content a bit differently, and it also helps me to improve my editing skills.
Thanks, Emma. I agree as well. Many things go into learning to write well, and reading is definitely one of them.