8 Habits of Every Great Reader

Circe Institute is a great place to look for educational ideas and inspiration. It is generally held in high regard by Classical homeschoolers but I think it’s a great resource for anyone interested in learning and education no matter what venue you choose for the education of your children. Here are some excerpts taken from this post at Circe Institute.

From David Hicks, author of Norms and Nobility:

“Habit” is the key word. There are some things a man should do every day: pray, repent, eat, sleep, hug his children and kiss his wife and tell them he loves them, work with his mind and back, and read. My typical day begins, as did my father’s, with a pot of coffee, the day’s Prologue and Lexionary readings. If there are no chores to perform on the farm or ranch (more likely in winter than in summer), I spend the afternoon in my library reading. At night, I take a book to bed. I cannot fall asleep without reading, and the test of the book is how late into the night it keeps me awake. I’m a slow reader, without apology, and one who looks up frequently from the page.

From Adam Andrews, Director of the Center for Lit:

Since I’m not a very good reader myself, this one is easy: good readers don’t read like me. I tend to see a book as a reading assignment that will be finished when I reach the last page. My reading life tends to look like a series of discrete accomplishments, or worse, a list of To-Do’s. As a result, I look at each book as a drop in the bucket compared to all the others I still need to read. There’s no finishing this task, so a task-oriented reader is always in the process of failing. This makes it almost impossible to start a new book when I have completed one. Who wants to be reminded that he will never finish, no matter how long he works?

The good readers that I know have a different view. Books are not assignments for them, and finishing is never their primary goal. They read for the pleasure, stimulation, and comfort of reading, and since you get these things throughout the reading process, not just at the end, they always succeed. They rarely count the books they have completed, or mark their progress in any systematic way. They take notes so they can remember the experience, but this activity is secondary to the experience itself. And most importantly, they tend to start new books right away, since each one is a new opportunity for pleasure, stimulation, and comfort.

I wish I were a reader like that. I would certainly read more, and be the better for it.

Using Mr. Andrews’ metric, I would qualify as a very good reader. I rarely know how many books I’ve read, or even how many I am reading at a given moment. And I always have a notebook with me to jot down page number, reference, or some thought that jumped out at me. Even in a children’s book, such as I am currently doing with Peter Pan.

I find reading goals alluring. However, I always lose count while never quite sure when I lost count.  These things make me feel as if I am a very bad reader.

From Matt Bianco, Head Mentor in the Circe Apprenticeship:

A great number of things are the marks of a good reader, but chief among those—and often the most overlooked—is the willingness to re-read books. A good reader is not the person who can read through books the fastest. A good reader is not the one who can read many books simultaneously. A good reader is not the one who can see the “deepest” stuff or tell you the plot line. A good reader is one who knows that in order to read well, he or she must read the book again. And again. And maybe again. Perhaps my point would be made clearer by allowing CS Lewis to say it in his words: “An unliterary man may be defined as one who reads books once only… We do not enjoy a story fully at the first reading. Not till the curiosity, the sheer narrative lust, has been given its sop and laid asleep, are we at leisure to savour the real beauties. Till then, it is like wasting great wine on a ravenous natural thirst which merely wants cold wetness.”

I like this. Sometimes I’m good at, other times not so much, but I am more than willing to re-read a book to get its gist if I think I missed it the first time.

Currently, I am reading three books. This is not my ideal strategy, but because our two youngest kids have books they are reading for their classes, I am reading each of those, and am also reading a book which showcases one man’s take on how we should approach Scripture. I am almost finished with two of the three books, so expect a review of both of those over the next week.

At this juncture, I consider great reading/writing in three ways: Am I being challenged, learning things, or stretched in positive ways? Is it enjoyable? Does the author express its ideas- regardless of whether I agree- in a coherent and thoughtful manner?

What do you consider the marks of effective reading?

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “8 Habits of Every Great Reader

  1. Robyn says:

    I would also be a good reader! Note taking is getting a too compulsive for me 😉 I need to dial it back a bit, I’m kind of losing the ability to be completely present.

    For me, the mark of a good reader is one that engages with those around them through the course of reading. Let me try to explain it this way. In our current culture we laugh when we see 4 people sitting together, all on their individual phones. But when we see 4 people sitting together, each in their own book (not part of a study or school group), just reading – we find it acceptable. Yet, it’s just as individually isolating as being on a phone. You’re stepping into another ‘world’ whether it’s through a screen (media) or a page, to the exclusion of the 3 that are sitting in your present sphere.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Elspeth says:

    It isn’t very unusual for several people to be reading different books in our house, honestly.

    That said, we do share insights or read interesting bits and pieces to each other. Or take turns reading a copy of the same book so we can hash it out later.

    Overall I agree that it is always better to be present and engaged with those in your immediate sphere than being isolated and attentive to something else.

    Except on airplanes. Or in libraries. Or at bus stops. Or all the places we bring our reading with so as NOT to be bothered, 😜.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. hearthie says:

    I don’t know whether it makes me a good reader or a bad one, but I can COMPLETELY agree with CS Lewis about the re-reading:
    “We do not enjoy a story fully at the first reading. Not till the curiosity, the sheer narrative lust, has been given its sop and laid asleep, are we at leisure to savour the real beauties. Till then, it is like wasting great wine on a ravenous natural thirst which merely wants cold wetness.”
    I read. I re-read. I don’t take notes unless I’m taking a class.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Elspeth says:

    When I write things down I recall them better. I even write down things or people I want to remember to pray for again.

    Just a thing of mine, but I also re-read. It’s always interesting to see what I noted the first reading vs what I noted the second reading.

    Liked by 1 person

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