1. “Never read a book without a pen in your hand.” ~ Benjamin Franklin – That’s great advice whether you write in your books or take notes in a notebook. Personally, I write, scribble, highlight, argue and draw symbols in all my books.
2. Read a whole paragraph / section BEFORE you stop to highlight or take a note. Don’t stop right when you see something interesting; keep reading to get the “big picture” or context of what stood out to you. Then “reread” when you make your notes.
3. Read important sections out loud. A person reads much slower when you read out loud than when you read silently, but studies show that if you read out loud, you tend to retain things better because you’re engaging multiple senses (hearing and seeing).
4. Read silently with quick “check-marks.” There are times when you should read silently and simply use a pencil to “check” sections in the margins you want to go back and reread later. This will help you get through a book quicker without being distracted by stopping to highlight or write.
5. Explain what you read. When you finish a chapter / section of a book, take a break and “think” about what you’ve read and, in your mind, “explain it” to someone. See if you can structure your thoughts so as to be able to repeat back to someone what you’ve read. This is a great exercise. I do this A LOT when I read – and actually “talk through it” out loud to myself walking around my office or in the car.
6. Learn to “X-ray” a book by reviewing the Table of Contents and only reading the sections / chapters that will be benefit you. And don’t feel like you have to read an entire book.
7. Pay attention to summary words – “therefore” or “as a result” or “in conclusion.” When you see a summary / conclusion word, make sure you understand the author’s points and argument that has led to his conclusion.
8. Circle / Underline key words in a sentence.
9. Mark words you don’t know – and look them up! If you have a Kindle this is much easier. Looking up words you don’t know increases your understanding of the author’s intent, but it also increases your vocabulary!