“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” This famous dictum of Francis Bacon can give us valuable guidance about the kinds of reading habits that should be developed by readers. Some documents can and should be read quickly, while others are should be read slowly and carefully.
This sort of lesson is especially useful in speed reading. To maintain maximum comprehension, it is necessary to adjust your reading speed depending on the reading material. It all depends on the purpose of the reading. Generally, there are two purposes:
- Intensive reading
- Extensive reading
In intensive reading, you read not only for detailed comprehension, but also for mastering the structures and vocabulary in the writing. This kind of reading is used when reading shorter texts with strict attention to detail. Therefore, intensive reading is regarded as a very effective means of learning quickly.
In extensive reading, you read fast for information, or simply for the pleasure of reading. This kind of reading emphasizes less on gaining accuracy and more on gaining fluency. Since extensive reading is usually done outside the classroom and for the readers’ own pleasure, it is less strict and requires a little less attention. However, once the reader learns to read faster and faster, then they will be able to improve their comprehension to the same level of intensive reading.
All readers can just pick up a book of their own choice and read it at their own pace, but regardless of the goal or the motivation, it is important to recognize the “why” of the reading.
So, the next time you pick up a book, or a newspaper, or a magazine, ask yourself this question: “why am I reading this?”
You are likely reading for either enjoyment or learning.
If you are planning to gather the information contained in the text, then (of course) the primary object is general comprehension; not language study or adventure. You must identify exactly what you are trying to retrieve from the text. If you’re looking for an answer to a question, just look for specific keywords related to your question, and finding out the answer will be extremely easy. This enables the learner to ignore certain paragraphs or passages and concentrate on the ones he is interested in.
Another useful ability is to be able to locate the topic sentence of a paragraph and comprehend its general meaning instantly. This enables the learner to ignore certain paragraphs or passages and concentrate on the ones he is interested in. The ability to guess the approximate meaning of a new rapid note of relevant information for future use is also a necessary component of this useful skill of extensive reading.
So, to sum it up, identify in every possible way what kind of reading you are going to be doing. Is it going to be extensive, or intensive? Are you answering a question, or looking for something new? Are you hoping for an adventure, or are you studying the material? Are you learning, enjoying, or both?