Improving Reading: Becoming a Critical Consumer

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Photo Courtesy of Death To The Stock Photo (license)


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.


Resources Mentioned:



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