Reading more books is one of my goals for 2015. Last year was dismal in terms of reading. According to my GoodReads account, I read thirteen books. I found this number confusing since I read all of the time.
However, I realized that I was reading more news, blog articles, and digital media rather than books. I learned a lot from my reading last year if my Evernote database and Moleskine are any indication, but I am not sure if focusing on one form of media over another is a good idea. I need balance.
One of my goals is to get the most that I can out of each book. That means becoming a better consumer of information. I haven’t been using my critical reading skills for fiction. I want to grow as reader and be able to contribute to the great conversation.
Being a better critical reader will help with information overload as well. I consume a lot of information on a daily basis, and organizing my system so that I can retain and analyze information better will be a definite plus.
What can I do to improve my critical reading skills?
Improve my Annotating:
Annotating is easy on my Kindle. I don’t why I don’t use the annotate feature as much as I should. I can export my booknotes and put them into Evernote. This would be helpful in improving my digital commonplace.
I don’t buy that many print books since I prefer checking out books from the library. However, the downside is that I can’t make notes in the book. I could copy out passages that I find interesting into my Moleskine. Writing out passages that I want to remember is helpful, but I find it tedious for long passages.
I’ve been thinking about using CamScanner to take an image of the text that I want to annotate, and then importing selections into Evernote as pdf files. Then I can type away.
The critical reading guide from Harvard library recommends developing your own system for annotating notes. Maybe if I take the time to develop an annotation system for my Kindle, then I would use the annotate feature more.
Summarize My Reading:
I have been experimenting a little with summarizing my reading, but I think that I also need to integrate a review. I have been keeping a Moleskine for the past year where I write down my incedental thoughts and ideas. Looking back, I realized that I haven’t been reviewing what I have written!
Rate My Reading:
I also want to get better at comparing and contrasting my reading and deciding the value of a book. One of my smaller goals for the year is to write ten book reviews on Goodreads. I’m sure that some of you are questioning why I would even bother to make this a goal.
The answer is that the majority of my reading falls into that gray category which I classify as “good.” I have been thinking about what really constitutes a good book. There are a few books that I absolutely love and a few books that I can’t stand. If a book doesn’t fall into those categories, I tend to give either three or four stars on Goodreads and not think about it further. This is lazy.
I want to get better at thinking systematically about the good and bad qualities of a book and making an informed decision about how a book has impacted me as a person.
Discuss What I Have Read:
I am a member of a few communities on Goodreads but I don’t participate as often as I should. I have also added a a few classical book blogs to Feedly, and I want to work more to comment more on blogs and have more conversation in general.