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Many people discover that the book they have grand hopes of gaining enlightenment from turns out to be very difficult to read. Realistically, any book intended for the general publiccan be understandable if you approach reading it in the right manner.

So, what is the best way to read a book? The answer is one important rule of reading. Read, or scan a book superficially before you try to deep read it.

Look first for the things you can make sense of. Start with this:

1. Look at the front and rear jackets of a book. These can give insight into what the book is about and what you can expect from the book. It could also tell you a little about the author.

2. View the book’s title page, preface, introduction, and any notes from author, reviewer’s etc. This will give you some insight into how the book came to be and others opinions about it.

3. Make a careful study of the table of contents to get a general sense of the book’s structure. Use the table of contents as you would a road map before taking a trip. Remember, it’s almost like an outline of what the author is trying to communicate. It will give you brain a further understanding the purpose of the book.

4. Especially check chapter titles and sub-titles. They will give you a greater scope of the book and the author’s viewpoint. If there are quotations at the front of the chapter ... check them out too.

5. Often, the first and last chapters of a book introduce and summarize its contents. But this doesn’t apply to all books, but it does to a majority of them.

6. Often books (such as text books and even most Bible versions) contain topic sentences, references and summary sentences. Textbooks often have summaries and questions inthe back of each chapter. These help you gain greater understanding.

7. The use of NOUNS and VERBS within the structure of a sentence gives the greatest information about the sentence. Adjectives and adverbs are the spices to the great dinner of knowledge through reading.

8. Develop awareness and sensitivity to the use of negative words. No, not, never, can’t, won’t, don’t, didn’t, etc will reverse the meanings of sentences, so watch out for them.

9. The conditional tense, could, would, if, should, etc also can make big differences in the meaning of a sentence.

10. Diagrams and pictures: if the book you are reading contains diagrams or photos or drawings, take time to understand the drawings and diagrams. Doing this will increase your reading abilities because you gain a clear picture of what is taking place.

11. Use the glossary and index usually found at the end of many books. They will make the vocabulary clearer and help you identify correlating ideas. When you check the index lookat the range of subjects covered or the kinds of authors quoted. If you see terms listed that seem crucial, look up the passage. You may find the key to the author’s approach.

SCAN THE BOOK. You can find more information about this at You won’t be reading in the traditional sense of reading (deep reading), but scanning allows you to quickly get the idea of the book while going through large amounts of text rather quickly.

Scan before you deep read. When you are scanning, what you are really doing is previewing the book. Bypass all difficult words, confusing paragraphs, footnotes, arguments and references where the meaning escapes you. There will be sufficient material that you can immediately grasp. Even if it is only 40-50% that that you understand, it will enable you gain a "Reader’s Digest" level understanding of the book. By scanning you get, often with great accuracy, a general sense of the book. Although you don’t get from scanning what deep reading and study can give you, it’s a practical way of previewing.

One word of warning: If you use this approach and start to scan a book, you may end up discovering that you aren’t scanning it at all. You are really reading it, understanding it and enjoying it.

When you put the book down, it will be with the realization that the subject wasn’t such a tough one after all.

For more information contact: Dr. Jay Polmar (founder)

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Jay Polmar is a former reading, and speed reading instructor, who has taught at 9 colleges in the mainland US and Hawaii. He began teaching reading improvement methods in 1979. Dr. Polmar is an author of more than 40 books in English and 5 other languages.