well-read life

Today I sat down and read this book right through. A very very pleasurable read indeed.

One of my favourite ideas from the book is this concept of ‘superficial reading’, where Leveen encourages you not to dive straight into a book, but to spend a little time exploring it gently, probing, reading around it, before getting into the ‘meat’ of the book. Things he suggests ‘researching’ or doing include:

  • What is the authors background?
  • Is there an index or bibliography?
  • Look at the table of contents and the illustrations.
  • Read the back & front: who is the intended audience?
  • Scan the index for major topics
  • Has the book been revised or reprinted? In what span of years?
  • Read a few introductory and concluding paragraphs from each chapter (usually the major points are contained here)
  • Maybe read a biography of the author

Why does Leveen suggest doing this? Along with our own experiences, cognitive psychologists tell us that memory is helped by building anticipation. This kind of previewing the book builds our expectation for what we actually encounter reading it.

I highly recommend reading this book!