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% How to Read for College
% Caleb McDaniel
% August 26, 2012
<!--This is a markdown slideshow that I made for a presentation at Duncan College on reading for college courses. It can be converted to a variety of slide formats using Pandoc. The slides are licensed under a Creative Commons CC-BY license. You can modify it, but please share and share alike, and provide attribution to this original. The source can be found at>
## General Tips
- Do your reading!
- Think about your reading!
- "Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for
granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and
consider." [*Francis
- Almost all books have pros; almost all books have cons.
- Time yourself!
- How long does it take you to read X pages?
- Start early enough to know how long a book will take.
- Use These Tips with Care!
- Different disciplines and documents require different kinds of
<!--These tips are geared particularly towards social sciences and humanities classes. Books assigned in these classes are usually trying to do more than just *convey information*. They are carrying on a conversation.-->
# Conversational Reading
## A Book is Part of a Conversation ...
- Between you and the author
- Between the author and other authors
- Between you, your professor, and your classmates
## Your Goal as a Reader?
- Enter the conversation
- Place the book or article in its larger context
- Assess the author's argument
- ~~Memorize every detail~~
<!--In most humanities and social science courses, the goal is not to memorize everything, but to know what's important in the context of the conversation.-->
<!--Of course, another thing humanities and social science courses have in common is a heavy reading load. How can you cover all the pages required?-->
# Speed Reading versus Smart Reading
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* Speed reading assumes all words are equally important, and privileges rate: it's like assuming that the best way to drive is to go 80 mph all the time.
## Smart readers learn when to slow down and when to speed up by paying attention to signposts.
# Pre-Reading
## How to Skim
- Collect information from all the book's titles
- Read through once like a writer
- Where do you put your main points when you write?
- Look for main points *early* and *late* ...
- In the book, in chapters, in sections, in paragraphs
- Come back to difficult parts later
* * * * *
> *In tackling a difficult book for the first time, read it through
> without ever stopping to look up or ponder the things that you do not
> understand right away.* Pay attention to what you can understand and
> do not be stopped by what you cannot immediately grasp. Go right on
> reading past the point where you have difficulties in understanding,
> and you will soon come to things you do understand. Concentrate on
> these. Keep on in this way. Read the book through, undeterred and
> undismayed by the paragraphs, footnotes, comments, and references that
> escape you. If you let yourself get stalled, if you allow yourself to
> be tripped up by any one of these stumbling blocks, you are lost. In
> most cases, you will not be able to puzzle the thing out by sticking
> to it. You will have a much better chance of understanding it on a
> second reading, but that requires you to have read the book through at
> least once.
From Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren, *How to Read a Book*, 36-7.
- Consider: Are you slowing down because the author left you a signpost,
or because you are "rubbernecking" at something just because it's unusual?
* * * * *
<!--Getting bogged down in a difficult section, before you know that it's an important section, is sort of like rubbernecking on a freeway. It's slowing down not because of a *signpost* telling you to, but because you can't make sense of some wreck or confusion.-->
# The point of skimming and pre-reading is to formulate questions and hypotheses about what the author will say.
# The Slow Read
## As you read ...
- Be on the look-out for reasons and evidence
- Ask yourself questions about the author's reasons
- *Selectively* annotate with marginal notes or high-lights
- Pause at the end of each section to review and jot notes
# The Post-Read
## While reviewing your notes ...
- Evaluate the author's claims
- Prepare a few points you could make in class
- See what other readers have said about the book
- The library's [OneSearch
tool]( often has
links to reviews
# Other tips?
- <>
- A link to this slideshow will be available there.