Patch Four: Read Into It

Getting Reading Done

Kate Burgess, Interdisciplinary Studies, Plymouth State University

We’ve all been there. Four pages into Chapter 8 of your “Chemistry is Fun!” book, you ask yourself: “what in the world have I just read?” Your brain is playing the part of an old crusty sponge, trying its best to absorb the literature that explains Stoichiometry in detail, but just not quite succeeding. When you have five other classes, three clubs, difficult reading assignments, and a roommate who will just NOT chew with their mouth shut, it can be hard to focus and retain information. I feel for you, which is why I’ve boiled down a couple tips that have helped me get the reading done, and actually learn something in the process!

  1. Get Selfish – A helpful way to retain information from your reading is to actively try and relate it to yourself. What connections can you draw between your own life and the text? Does studying the timeline of the Vietnam War remind you of your favorite collection of 1960’s anti-war records? Indulge in that thought. You’re more likely to remember it if you can find some common ground between yourself and the topic being studied.
  2. Get Gabby – For me, reading out loud, or even hearing a friend or colleague read the material in their own voice can not only add a sense of familiarity to the material, but can also make the text sound more like a story, which is engaging in a different way. Plus, it gives the eyes a break.
  3. Get Snacky – Stock up on brain food. Eating a healthy snack like carrots and peanut butter, whole wheat crackers and cheese, or some fruit is a good way to a) get some nutrients in your system, and b) engage your body in micro-kinesthetic movements while reading which might activate different parts of your brain involved with memory. Plus, who doesn’t love to eat?
  4. Get Nappy – Those introductory paragraphs make you sleepy? If you’ve given yourself enough time, let the nap flow through you. The deal you have to make with yourself, though, is that you finish that article upon awakening. You’ll feel refreshed and just guilty enough to really buckle down and read that article without the distraction of fighting off those zzzzs.*

Hang in there, folks. Reading can be brutal, but hopefully with these tips, you’ll be whizzing through (and retaining) the material!

(*note: with permission from the author, the 4th tip was added by Terry Greene who used to nap a lot when studying.)

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image credit: “Reading in the garden” flickr photo by Kaarina Dillabough shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

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