This is going to sound ridiculous. And right now, you may just be wondering if you’ve walked into a devolving downward spiral of discussion. But bear with me as I lead you into a ploy of inception, get your token ready, and let me plant this idea in your mind.
Right now you are reading. And not only are you reading, but you are reading about reading. But how well are you reading this reading on reading? Have you ever thought about what you do as a reader? Do you consider the breadth of your reading? Do you consider the techniques you employ as a reader?
If you don’t do so, then you should start. Right now. You should start thinking about how you pore over texts and look for better ways to read. Don’t waste another word on negligent reading. Hang on each word and get ready to hone this salient skill. The best way to accomplish this is to read about reading.
Most of us don’t read well. Possibly this is because of the bum writing our brains are bogged by incessantly. However, it also could be that we have overcrowded, muddled, and diluted lives. Other forms of media contend for our attention. They contend and win out attention so that literature is neglected altogether. Tony Reinke in Lit: A Christian Guide to Reading says:
This trend is troubling because the immediate appeal of visual entertainment is at odds with the gradual unveiling of literary treasure. Entertainment is passive and easy; books require an active mind and diligence. Book typically get ignored. (40)
So it’s evident that we don’t employ our reading time judiciously, and we permit distractions to creep into our reading world, preventing us from reading at all. As Mortimer J Adler and Charles Van Doren in How to Read a Book says, “There is no other way of forming a habit of operation than by operating” (53). In other words, if you want to read well, well, you should start by reading. Something. Anything. Even if it’s a reading merely about reading.
Perhaps, we have no idea how to scrutinize certain writings. With many genres of writing, each deserves a certain kind of engagement or approach. Likewise, there are divers levels at which to engage writing.
Adler and Van Doren’s classic guide to reading, How to Read a Book, refers to four levels of reading: elementary (21), inspectional (31), analytical (59), and synoptical (309). Did you know that? Likely not, unless you are already acquainted with Adler’s composition on reading.
So, you see, there is a lot to consider when deciphering any text, more than you’ve probably perused. Now’s the time to commence upping the game on reading. Cornelius Plantiga in Reading for Preachers writes, “I am convinced that the preacher whose work is supported by wide exposure to great writing will be significantly improved by it” (6). Now I know that you may not be a preacher, so just substitute that word for person. Because that’s just how it is, you will be significantly improved upon if only you are exposed widely to great writing.
If this peaks your interest, then I encourage you to subject yourself to the works I’ve already mentioned. These are readings that you’ll fancy. You’ll surely want to give Tony Reinke’s book Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books a close study. You’ll also want to absorb Cornelius Plantiga’s Reading for Preachers. One is for every Christian and the other is specifically directed to preachers. Still, anyone will profit from the later. But before you read either of these books, you must read Mortimer J Adler and Charles Van Doren’s, How to Read a Book.
So get after it. Get to reading about reading; stop reading this dribble. Otherwise, I might just have to send you to Zoolander’s Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good.