Improving Reading: Becoming a Critical Consumer

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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.

 

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