How to Get More Out of Reading

All too often reading is seen as a chore where the end goal is merely to finish. Though people may feel a sense of satisfaction upon reaching the end of a piece, there are so many more rewards that can be reaped if the reader just puts forth a little effort during the reading process. By actively trying to get more out of reading, you can grow your vocabulary, get a better understanding of the documents overall subject matter, and retain more of whatever it is you’re reading. Here are some tips to help you succeed in these three areas.

Growing Your Vocabulary
You’re bound to come across many unfamiliar words while you read. To grow your vocabulary, always look up any words you don’t know. While online dictionaries are perfect for looking up unknown words, a physical dictionary can also get the job done in most cases. If you can’t look up a specific word during a reading session, then jot down the unknown word so you can look it up later.

To help ensure you won’t forget your newly discovered vocabulary, record each new word you come across on an index card, then write its corresponding definition on the back of the card. So you can continuously reuse the same set of cards, use a pencil when recording the words and corresponding definitions. Review these cards once a day until you’re confident that you’ve committed the words to memory. Once a card is memorized, it can then be removed from the pile.

Getting a Deeper Understanding of the Subject Matter
Many written works, especially nonfiction publications, barely scrape the surface of a topic. To get a deeper understanding of the subject matter you’re reading about, seek out additional information whenever you come across a topic you know little about but find particularly interesting. By learning more about the topics mentioned in the document you’re reading, you’ll obtain a wider perspective of the subject.

Seeking out a deeper understanding of the subject matter can also be beneficial to those reading fictional works. To expand your horizons while reading a work of fiction, seek out further reading on the particular book, series, or author. Also, consider researching any locations and time periods mentioned in the book as they may be relevant to certain themes seen in the work.

Retaining More of What You Read
No matter how interesting people find a topic to be, many still forget a large part of what they read shortly after reaching the end of a written piece. To retain more of what you read, slow down. While speed reading can be tempting—especially if you have a lot to read—slowing down will give you time to really process the information so you can better commit it to memory. Rereading something in its entirety can also help commit its contents to memory, though this method isn’t often practical due to time constraints.

Taking notes or highlighting passages as you work your may through a document is another method that can help you retain more of what you read. If something seems to be rather interesting or important, highlight the section or make a quick note of it so you can easily review any vital passages later on. Reading important phrases aloud may also help you retain more of what you read, particularly if you are an auditory learner.

Regardless of what you are reading and why you are reading it, it is always worth trying to get more out of the experience. By actively trying to get more out of reading, you’ll be able to grow your vocabulary, get a deeper understanding of the subject matter, and retain more of what you read.

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