1. Systematic Skimming; and
2. Superficial Reading.
Systematic skimming has already been covered in my earlier post. This post will cover the second stage, namely Superficial Reading.
The purpose of Superficial Reading is to enable us to read through the book continuously, so that we can grasp the flow and general thrust of the book. By doing so, we can understand the major points highlighted by the author and follow his line of reasoning.
There are three main steps to Superficial Reading:
1. Continuous Reading
In Superficial Reading, especially when reading a difficult book, read through without ever stopping to look up or ponder on the things we do not understand right away. Just pay attention to what we understand and read past the points that we find difficult to grasp. Continue with the ‘flow ‘of the book and ignore any potential stumbling blocks in our way. Even if we understand less than half the book, we will have grasped the overall thrust of the book. This will help us when we reread the areas we did not understand earlier.
2. Do not consult Extraneous Materials
Never consult a dictionary at this stage! For most of us, English is not our native language. As such, we have a tendency to refer to the dictionary for every word we don’t understand. DON’T DO THIS! Do not consult any dictionary, encyclopedia, footnotes, scholarly commentaries and other extraneous materials at this stage. JUST KEEP ON READING!
3. Look at the Forest, not the Trees!
At this stage, imagine that we are eagles soaring high above the sky. Our aim is to obtain a bird’s eye view of the forest. We want to see the BIG PICTURE and understand what the whole book is about and enjoy ourselves.
How many times have we picked up a book, only to interrupt our reading by consulting the dictionary? We then jot down the meaning of the word on the book and try to continue reading. Suddenly, we find that we’ve forgotten what we read earlier and have to start all over again.
If you do this, it is very likely that you will NEVER finish reading the book. Most likely, you’ll stop at page 10 and that’s the last you’ll ever see of the book. So, avoid this temptation! I promise you, if you read continuously as suggested, your reading skills will improve!
My future post will cover the Third Stage of Reading, Analytical Reading. This stage of reading is intensive, so stay tuned, if you are interested in learning about Analytical Reading.