Becoming a better reader

Reading time: About 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post on becoming a better reader.

Clients often ask me how they can become better readers. My website already has lots of info on this topic,  as you can see here, and here and here.

But for additional advice, you might want to consider six tips from Ryan Holiday and the TED community.

Here they are in summary form:

1. Stop reading books you aren’t enjoying: Read only what you love — that way reading will never seem to be a chore. Hers is Holiday’s rule about when you can abandon a book you’re not enjoying, “[Read] 100 pages minus your age — so if you’re 30 years old and a book hasn’t captivated you by page 70, stop reading it. That way, as you age, you have to endure crappy books less and less.”

2. Keep a commonplace book: As you read, maintain a collection of quotes, ideas, stories and facts that you can keep for later. This is known as a commonplace book and it will quickly become one of the most important reference sources that you own.

3. Reread the masters: Within the frame of reading only what you enjoy, try to find books by ‘masters’ — from the contemporary Kazuo Ishiguro to the 14th century’s Geoffrey Chaucer — that hold some appeal to you. They have become masters for a reason.

4. Ask people you admire for book recommendations: If you admire someone, you’re likely to learn some useful lessons from the writers they admire.

5. Don’t just learn from your own experience: Life is too short to learn solely by your own experience. Reading widely can help you learn from the experiences of others.

6. Re-read something you’ve enjoyed previously: Are you in a reading rut? Get yourself out of it by re-reading a book you’ve already enjoyed. That way you can be reasonably confident you’re going to enjoy it again — and perhaps even learn something new.

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