The best readers in the world often live successful and highly fulfilled lives.
We respect and admire their thought processes and wonder if we can follow in their footsteps. Fortunately, we can!
First, we must clarify what a ‘good reader’ is. Then, after we discuss why reading is important, we will discover eight ways to become a better reader in no time!
Why Become a Better Reader?
Many of us strive to read faster when that is just the tip of the iceberg. ‘Reading fast’ alone does not make a good reader, and it is not going to motivate you. The essential questions to ask yourself revolve around the person you would like to become:
- ‘What would your ideal self desire in life?’
- ‘What habits and routines would your ideal self engage in to achieve these desires?’
- ‘What is your ideal self willing to sacrifice to obtain the desires?’
We admire the well-read, the well-learned, and the sophisticated. They are attentive when listening, when talking, and when observing. Where did they learn to behave so calmly in a world filled with noise? How did they come to be so knowledgeable? The answer often involves active reading of and reflection on books. One of Warren Buffett’s habits that made him build a multi-billion dollar fortune is to read voraciously.
Once we recognize how being a good reader influences all other areas of life, we are astounded. What can we do to become outstanding readers and thinkers ourselves?
The eight powerful strategies I am about to present will drastically improve your skill of, and pleasure in, reading. To become a good reader is to choose wisdom, self-respect, and self-love. Further, not only will you better remember what you have read, but you will be able to communicate ideas more effectively. As you engage with others about your learnings, you may even form new nurturing friendships with like-minded people!
What Makes a Good Reader?
First, we need to understand the concept of a ‘good reader’.
Did you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed with reading? Did you ever force yourself to finish books you don’t enjoy? You may think that a good reader is a person who can read fast and without difficulty. After all, that is what we are supposed to do, right?
In reality, reading well implies so much more.
A ‘good reader’ is a person who knows and appreciates that reading is a multifaceted journey. Going through the pages and chapters, the good reader…
- Comprehends the material,
- Knows which passages to rereading and which ones to skim,
- Grants the work thought and reflection,
- Appreciates the writing style or recognizes poor writing,
- Can communicate a book’s messages and engage in discussions,
- Remembers and applies lessons learned.
- Puts away books they don’t enjoy.
Reading speed should not be our priority. Instead, we must focus on the quality of our reading experience – including our comprehension and the process of reflection.
The good news is that anyone can become a good reader by following the proven strategies outlined below. Let’s learn about eight ways to become a better reader in no time!
How To Become a Better Reader
Now that we know what makes a good reader, let’s look at strategies that can vastly upgrade both our reading comprehension and satisfaction!
1. Set Specific Goals for Yourself
Before forming a reading habit, think about the goals you have in mind.
To illustrate, you may wish to read 50 books a year. This equates to roughly one book a week. Let’s assume an average book length of 300 pages. You should read at least 43 pages a day to achieve your goal.
You may realize that this is a heavy load, especially when you stand at the beginning of your journey. Be smart and realistic about your objectives, as failure to reach them may discourage you to keep reading altogether.
Don’t forget to reward yourself! Whenever you finish a book, allow yourself some time to pursue your favorite activity! Even for tiny achievements, such as completing a chapter, you could grant yourself your favorite breakfast or a long, hot shower. Make the journey enjoyable!
2. Create a Reading Habit
Why should we reward ourselves? Because such actions increase the likelihood of staying consistent with our schedule.
You may have heard the saying that ‘small but consistent steps add up to big results’. We gradually build a habit when we engage in a task every day. It applies to action as much as to inaction. Becoming less and less consistent with reading, the routine slowly dissipates.
When studying the morning routines of the successful, we notice that thought-engaging habits are crucial for setting the tone of the day. Reading, writing, journaling – all these activities make us powerful beings when pursued consistently.
To make reading a habit, schedule your sessions in advance, and implement positive chain reactions. In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear describes the concept: “It is within your power to spark a chain reaction of good habits by building new behaviors that naturally lead to the next successful action.” Once your reading time is over, you do 10 minutes of meditation, take a shower, and so on.
Have you heard of the 21/90 rule before? According to Physicum, it takes 21 days to build a habit and 90 days to implement it into your lifestyle. For this reason, the first three weeks are crucial, and you should not skip a reading session during that time.
3. Read Actively
To become a better reader, your mind must be engaged, attentive, and active. Here are some quality techniques to consider when you grab your next book:
- Mark important phrases
- Take notes after each section/ chapter
- Develop a Mind Map while reading
- Go back/ reread passages
In an article published by Medium, Bestseller author Robert Greene talks about his method of reading and retaining information – not an easy task considering that he reads 300-400 books for each work of his. “In Greene’s case, he writes every important idea/passage/aphorism on a card, categorizing by the theme,” states the interviewer.
The beauty of reading is personal freedom. Put differently, you decide how you read, and what additional tools you use if you want to use any. However, engaging with the text in one way or another is a must if you read to expand your knowledge.
4. Read Challenging Works From Time to Time
Richard Steele once said: “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” On the one hand, we must train consistently to see results. On the other hand, we need to alternate the muscles we focus on.
Tap into more demanding works from time to time. Explore the style, the message, and the depth of the writing. By following this strategy, you widen your horizon and will recognize quality works easier.
Especially when it comes to sophisticated literature, dedicate appropriate time to reading sessions. After all, it is much more likely to jump back and reread sections. However, don’t get frustrated – as mentioned above, active reading is a trait of a good reader!
5. Keep Different Books at Hand
As important as exploring sophisticated writing is, sometimes we feel like lighter literature – and that is perfectly fine!
A good reader reads multiple books and chooses according to mood and desire. She may read a short novel in the morning, an article during the lunch break, and a thriller in the evening. The next day may look entirely different. A variety of literature exposes us to new ideas, arguments, and reasoning. Plus, going with the book that excites us at a specific moment means we never get bored!
6. Don’t Force Yourself
Have you ever read a paragraph, again and again, but you just could not focus? Sometimes, the reason lies in our relationship with the reading habit we try to form.
One of the most important lessons to learn is to be a flexible reader. Thus, we should not force ourselves to finish a book we don’t enjoy. Don’t feel bad for putting it away. Instead, be gentle with yourself and thank yourself for recognizing that this piece of literature does not suit you.
7. Consider Audiobooks
Imagine waiting for a flight at the airport. Unfortunately, you forgot to bring a book, so you are not sure how to bridge time. Walking up and down the gate, you remember that you could also listen to books online.
Taking advantage of audiobooks is an excellent strategy to get our pages in when the circumstances may not allow for reading a paperback book, such as when waiting at the airport.
Another benefit of audiobooks is the ability to pursue other tasks while listening. In the meantime, you could be driving, cleaning up the house, or walking the dog.
8. Engage in Conversation
After finishing a book, a good reader reflects on the insights and learnings, as well as the author’s opinions and intentions. While following our flow of thoughts, we may learn more about the works and about ourselves.
Do you feel the desire to share your thoughts and feelings about your experience with others? You are not alone!
Book clubs and forums help people connect with other readers and discuss literature. Attending sessions is highly inspirational and thought-engaging. Finally, you get to hear different perspectives, expanding your knowledge even more!
How To Become a Better Reader
A fast reading style is not what makes a ‘good reader.’ To become a better reader, one should focus on active reading, comprehension, and a variety of materials instead.
By following the strategies outlined above, we not only expand our knowledge and abilities. We may increase our sense of well-being and self-love through the pleasure of reading. Additionally, forming such a habit also helps us develop into the sophisticated and respectful person we wish to become.
Always be patient and don’t force yourself – it is supposed to be an adventurous and enjoyable journey, after all!