Who wants to learn how to read effectively?
The truth is we learnt how to read early in life, usually in primary school, right?
But the question is, do you really know how to read?
Wait, I should have asked the question, are you really reading?
Reading gives you the chance to be a better writer if you’re paying attention and making out time to write.
Here, we’re talking about is what you say, instead of how you say it.
You must have noticed that the competition for online content is very fierce. If you play to win then, you must get information that others don’t have, which means subscribing to a huge number of websites.
Pleasure Seekers and Scanners
Do you know that people don’t read well online?
I know you’re surprised to hear it. But don’t be because they scan for interesting chunks of content instead of digesting everything, and they still want to be entertained during the process.
That’s the reality that content providers deal with. So, what do they do? Simple they disguise their content with friendly formatting and clever analogies.
But the truth is that you shouldn’t read that way.
If what you do online is to scan different headlines and read purely to be entertained. The hard truth is that you’re at a disadvantage. Because someone in your niche is somewhere reading books and digging deeper to become an authority.
Or they will after reading this article.
Information and Understanding
Most times, people understand learning to be gathering information and retaining it. But the truth is that being able to recall any information is low-level learning when compared with insightful understanding.
As a writer or blogger and you can’t understand and communicate effectively to your readers. You’ll simply be passing on your reading obligations to them, and by that, you’re not giving them what they’re looking for in your content.
Next time you read a blog post and you’re not quite clear about it. Well, I know your first inclination is to ask a question in the comments. Rather, read it again.
And if it’s not clear, research on your own to see if you will be able to figure it out. So, that when you finally ask a question, you’re on a different level of understanding and may likely engage meaningfully with the writer.
4 Levels of Reading
A man named Mortimer J. Adler jolted the “widely read” back then in 1940 and realized that they might not be well-read with a book called “How to Read a Book.”
It was updated in 1972 and still very relevant today. The book identified four levels of reading, which are
1. Elementary Reading
Elementary reading does consist of remedial literacy, and usually, it’s achieved during the primary schooling years. This is to lay the foundation for one to learn how to read effectively as one moves higher in life.
2. Inspectional Reading
This level of reading means giving a piece of content a quick yet advance review to be able to evaluate the benefits of a deeper reading experience.
Skimming is like you scanning an article to see if you want to read it or not.
You check the title, the subheads, and selectively dipping in and out of it to see if it will interest you.
It means you simply read.
Superficial is like you not pondering, and you don’t even stop to check things up. And when you don’t get anything, you’re not worried about it. You’re priming yourself to read again but at a higher level if the topic is worthy.
However, stopping at this level it’s only appropriate if the material is of no use to you. But the unfortunate thing is that this is the reading some people do while preparing for their own writing.
3. Analytical Reading
At this level, you’re engaging your critical mind to dig deep into the meaning and motivation beyond what you’re reading.
Moreover, the highest level of reading will allow you to get knowledge from a comparative reading of different books on the same subject.
4. Syntopical Reading
It’s said that anyone can read five books on the same topic and be an expert. It might be true, but how you read the five books is what makes the difference.
Reading the five books analytically will turn you into an expert on what five writers have said. But when you read the five books syntopically, you will be able to develop your unique perspective and expertise in the same field.
Meaning that syntopical reading is not about the existing experts. It’s about you and the problems you want to solve, but in this scenario for your readers.
The books you read are tools that allow you to form an understanding that’s never existed before. You’ve been able to meld the information in the books with your own life experience and other knowledge to come up with new connections and insights.
5 Steps to Syntopical Reading
At this stage, you’re assimilating the language of the authors in terms of art and keywords that you choose, whether to agree with the language of a particular author or even devise your own.
Now, your focus is on the questions you want answers to, as opposed to the problems each author wants to solve with his book.
It might require drawing inferences if an author fails to directly address one of your questions. And when any of them fails to address any of your questions, then you didn’t get the inspection stage correctly.
Asking a good question means you identified an issue.
However, understand that when experts have differing responses to a particular question, you’ve been able to flesh out all sides of an issue, based on the existing content you’ve read.
Understanding different perspectives within a particular issue, you have what it takes to intelligently discuss the issue, and also arrive at your own conclusion, which might differ from everyone else.
Value is found within the discussion among competing viewpoints concerning the same information, and now you’re conversant enough to hold your own in any discussion with experts.
Reading is not only about absorbing information. It’s about you asking questions, looking for answers, understanding the different answers, and then deciding for yourself.
See reading this way, and you will realize how it will allow you to deliver value to your readers as a writer.