Have you ever finished a book and, a short time later, forgot what it was about? Or had trouble relating its plot to a friend? You’re not alone: in today’s world – where information is more constant and available than ever before, and distracted reading is quickly becoming the norm – it can be difficult to absorb words on a page let alone a novel’s central themes. This summer, challenge yourself to truly connect with a book. Here are 5 tips to get you started:
Do away with distraction
We’re all familiar with the following scenario: read a page, check your email; read another page, check your Facebook. The result? According to a recent study, close reading (that’s focused, attentive reading) requires “complex cognitive functions” that make readers feel as if they are actually inside a story. These functions get scrambled during frequent interruptions. The solution? Place electronics in another room, checking only when you have to.
Take a page out of a college student’s book: for decades studies have shown that note taking is one of the most effective ways to actively engage with a text. Jotting down an idea, or thought, will help you focus, retain information, and organize new ideas. Don’t like writing in books? Neither do we! A beautiful notebook is an excellent place for your scribbles.
Find the right tunes
Love to listen to music while you read? Choose tracks with a constant, steady pulse (read: anything but experimental) and turn the volume low. Most importantly, avoid pressing play on your favourite tune: a new study shows that readers perform better when listening to a new or neutral song rather than their preferred track.
Have a conversation
Discussing a work of literature can be as enjoyable (and valuable) as reading itself. Hearing others’ opinions of a book, and voicing yours, will help you develop a deeper understanding of its themes, characters, and ideas. Don’t have bookish friends? Sign up for a local book club, chat with an independent bookstore owner, or visit sites like Goodreads for lively discussions in forums and comment threads.
Attend a local literary event
Whether you live in city or country (bibliophiles are everywhere) a quick online search will locate your local literary community’s calendar of events. From boisterous café readings, to informative library presentations, the benefits of attending literary events are plenty. Not only will you learn about books from the people who write them (a transformative experience), you’ll also connect with like-minded readers, which can lead to inspiring conversations, book recommendations, book-swaps—you name it.