Having not written in a while made me question my ability to bring forward topics of discussion or issues that are worth raised. Also, I am currently reading “Women in love”, D. H. Lawrence, a book full of philosophical issues, existential questions and self-doubt. Therefore, I am greatly inclined to doubt myself in my own endeavor of writing.
All these circumstances made me realize that I need to read more and made me wonder where should I start from, how should I read, to get the most out of it.
How do you choose what you read, how do you organize the information in your head, how do you picture the characters?
Do you take notes?
All these questions popped up in my mind after I found I needed to read, to be able to write. I started this blog as a way of practicing writing and I haven’t strayed from my initial goal, but I felt like I needed to get back to my roots, to be able to keep on writing. Reading has always been my “thing” and only after I started writing I realized it is also a great source of inspiration, it can offer you great examples of writing techniques and styles and, most importantly, it clears the web of ideas in your head.
Four Levels of Reading
Because I felt like I didn’t have enough information on reading, I started searching more about it and I found this blog that greatly synthesized the four levels of reading that Mortimer J Adler identified and described in his book How to Read a Book. The four levels are:
- Elementary – remedial literacy, usually achieved in elementary school
- Inspectional – superficial reading, quickly giving meaning to a piece of writing
- Analytical – engaging critically into the meaning and motivation beyond the text
- Syntopical – reading books on a deep level, to form an understanding and make new connections
Looking at these levels, I realize I have lately only read at an elementary level, to relax or disconnect myself from the daily routine. This happened mostly because of my hectic work schedule, but is no excuse for someone who assumes as a long term goal to become a writer. Looking back though, I am actually pleasantly surprised to see that I have “pierced through the deepest layer of reading’s skin” (if I may put it this way). I am glad I used my high school and college years to try and make out what writers across the world meant in their books. I remember I read “Crime and Punishment” three times to get the least of understanding why Raskolnikov did what he did, or what Dostoyevsky meant by “nihilists”. Later on, I pondered over social research books and even re-read passages to grasp the statistical meaning or to understand how numbers can be given such intricate interpretations.
To answer my own question – I read what appeals to me on the spur of the moment, I organize ideas by momentary interests, long term goals, personal experience, I picture characters as my long lost relatives, with whom I share personal or emotional experiences.
It never made sense to try and organize my readings but now, after browsing blogs and online publications, I can see why I need to start over and get a new reading pattern: it will help me make new connections, it will probably lead me to developing my own style or even finding my dream job. I have hundreds of ideas everyday, but no discipline. I probably should get down to some serious disciplining.
What should I start with?
- Widely-Read or Well-Read? (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
- Reading habits and necessities according to profession (thetechscoop.net)
- Reading and Writing (gettingtotheend.wordpress.com)
- Letting go of books (spiritualboosters.com)