A Guide to Deep Reading

(Let’s take a journey to Deep Reading Island)

Recently, a student from my school, named Soumi Ghosh, wrote about the reason reading is very important to learning. Here’s the link to it : https://medium.com/@soumigosh/reading-the-gateway-to-learning-832b6773b9eb.

I don’t fully agree with that. I think deep reading (of quality content) is much more important and necessary for learning. If you just carelessly read an article or book, you can’t possibly think about it very deeply. Then one can’t analyze it and understand the concept to the core. So, one doesn’t learn anything from the writing and it becomes a waste of time.

So, all settled, deep reading is more important. But the main question is what is deep reading and how to do it. Deep reading is the exact opposite of what I just mentioned. To understand every bit of the writing and learn some real-life lesson from it would be deep reading (provided the writing has a lesson to offer). After deeply reading a piece of writing, one thought should occur in your mind “Ah, that was worthwhile”.

Now that the concept of deep reading is clear enough, let us now list down the three main components of deep reading:-

  1. Understanding- The first step to any kind of deep reading is understanding. Understanding is not just roughly getting the overall point but understanding every bit and word of the writing. There are two ways to do this:-

a) A potential “deep reader” must first understand every word that occurs in the writing. So, they must check the meaning of every word that comes diligently. But there is one barrier that will prevent this- laziness. If we delve deep into a lazy mind we see thoughts like It’s too time-consuming or I can’t put this much of effort into one piece of writing. But if they don’t read one writing, they are willing to excuse the next and the next and they fall into the vicious cycle of reading without understanding. But for once, if they are willing to subdue the biological desire to save mental energy, if they meticulously check every vocabulary then they might understand something after all.

b) A potential “deep reader” must also read very carefully. Often, people have desire to show off their fast reading speed and they don’t read carefully, but then there is no point in reading fast. Some laggards have a different psychology. They skip words or ignore difficult parts just to finish reading fast and end the “ordeal”. If some parts are difficult they should read it twice or thrice. After this they’ll certainly understand that particular part. Very soon they get a hang of understanding difficult parts at once and their reading speed automatically soars high.

2. Analyzing- After our potential “deep reader” has understood everything, they should analyze it in these two ways:-

a) Firstly, they should question the text. It is a common misconception that whatever is written on text is true. But everything that we read is written by humans and all of us are fallible. So, if we ever find some mistakes in the writing we should point it out and discuss the correct way of writing it. We should ask meaningful questions and be genuinely curious about something that we are reading.

b) After reading something insightful, there is always opportunity to discuss aspects of it. We should debate and discuss articles, news, books and whatever else we read. We should discuss the funny parts, the witty parts or even condemn the boring parts. Maybe somebody will provide a useful insight to it which you had not thought about. That will enhance your understanding of the book even more. So, discussing with friends, teachers, colleagues will always be useful as it will provide a topic for conversation and a medium for gaining knowledge.

3. Rewriting- If we can rewrite something that we have read successfully, it is a sure sign of deep reading. It means we have carefully read every point, analyzed it and understood it. Let’s say you are reading a coursebook, rewriting won’t mean blindly copying notes or lifting exact sentences, but being able to recall explanations and being able to explain them yourself. If you have read an article then try to recall arguments, try to counter-attack and write a short summary of the article. Then understanding grows and habit of deep reading fosters.

Everyone reads. Be it newspapers, books, stories, articles, magazines, etc. So, everyone has an opportunity to become our potential “deep reader”. It only needs self-motivation and hard work. If we work a little hard our habit to deep read will form and then we’ll fall into a virtuous cycle. First, we understand the easy writing, then a little bit difficult which in turn improves our reading skill, which again helps us to deep read more difficult stuff and it goes on. That’s why start your engine and get ready to prove that our potential “deep reader” was you after all!

P.S- After skimming through this article, I hope you’ve decided to give it a re-read, albeit a deep one.