How to Read Effectively

Reading comes with more responsibility than people think.  In order to read effectively, the reader must pay attention to detail, read what the writer has not yet written, and find clues and hints the writer may purposely put in the book to make the reader think a little more.  Reading is more than looking at words, but it is grasping an understanding of the text.  To develop an understanding, the reader must work to discover the hidden messages; there exists in books codes that must be deciphered.  From personal experience, I have taken great interest in analyzing books.  When I read, I try to connect many of the details, read in between the lines, or think outside the box.  I love it when an author creates an event in the story without writing what literally happens. Creative authors need people to read their books effectively.

There is a way to be a smart reader.  The writer may do the work of putting the book together, but the work does not stop there when the reader begins to open the book and consume the words with his/her eyes.  It takes thinking about each sentence.  If the writer wrote it, it was likely for a purpose that may foreshadow events, form the characters, symbolize ideals, allude to other pieces of literature, etcetera.  If writers just wrote exactly what they meant all the time, then the books may be less interesting. Similes and metaphors are more ways the writers decorates their writing, but these decorations are not just there to look cute.  Every word in a book has a purpose, so it is important to note each of them. Paying attention to detail could be fun because it gives the reader a puzzle to solve.

In order to create these fun puzzles for readers, writers use literary techniques.  For instance, the reader may describe a character as a certain way: shy but sometimes bold, intelligent but crafty, romantic, envious, etc.  The traits of characters are more than what they appear; they can help the reader understand later why characters perform certain actions. The writer could make the story ironic by making a completely different character execute something that another character could have mostly likely done. Someone’s name in a book may symbolize the person’s purpose.  For instance, if a character is named after a Greek god, then he may also exhibit the traits and personality of the Greek god.  There is most likely a reason behind the famous name if a character is assigned it in the book.  The reader may then use this information to think about all the ways the character makes a difference in the book in relation to all the ways the Greek god made a difference in mythology.  Then, this information could help the reader refine the meaning of the novel as a whole.  These are ways authors create riddles for the reader to solve.

One of the books I enjoyed learning about is Moby-Dick, The Whale.  In class, my teacher taught this book by going through the process of close reading.  Each word or phrase was significant because it was a part of the meaning of the text.  It greatly influenced my reading skills. Another book I have read for an English class was a few short stories from the book, Dubliners. She pointed out that small details like a character’s name (Gabriel) reflected his part in the story.  These are my favorite memories of experiencing effective reading.

All in all, written sentences are alive; they live in the book for their readers to not only see them but get to know them.  A reader can only do this by putting some thought into the text.  This process can make reading more fun because it gets people to think about it differently and to appreciate an author’s creation.  Not reading more than the words one sees on the page could make the reader miss out on useful information.  When reading, it is helpful for the reader to think about why each word, sentence, passage, or chapter was written; in this way, a written work becomes more than its cover, length, and font; the book becomes more meaningful.

– Sasha Brooks

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