Website Wednesdays: How to Read a Book

Website Wednesdays 3

One important way to develop your writing is to read.  In a college history class you will, of course, do quite a bit of reading.  Trying to balance that reading with all your other commitments can be tough, but there are skills to learn that will help.  It is important, for instance, not to treat all college reading as if it is a novel.  You may not have to read an assigned history monograph word-for-word and cover-to-cover to understand its contribution.  For example, an article in the Harvard Business Review on How to Read a Book a Week outlines a five-step process to understand a book, even if you do not read every word.  In this article, Peter Bregman suggests that you “start with the author” and learn a little about them, and then “read the title, the subtitle, the front flap, and the table of contents” to figure out the overall scope of the book.  Next you “read the introduction and the conclusion” to focus in on the author’s main argument, and next “read/skim each chapter” to examine how they support the argument.  Finally, Bregman recommends that you should “end with the table of contents again” to make sure you have summarize the major points of the book.

Best, Dr. Ferdinando

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