Active Reading

“The outcome of reading with a pen in the hand is not possible to anticipate … the idea is not to copy, but to have a meaningful dialogue with the texts we read.”

(Ahrens 2017, 76)

Active reading is an approach emphasizing personal learning and extraction of ideas from a text instead of passive absorption. Books I take months to read should feed into a database of personal knowledge that I can reference and build on.

When I’m reading non-fiction, I try to highlight and note things that stand out to me. When I finish a chapter, I’ll go back through my notes and highlights to see what is worth saving. By the time I’m done with a book I’ve got a best of” note that has ideas, quotes from the book, and my own annotated thoughts.

These notes make it easy for me to remember or reference not only the information in the book, but also context around why it was important to me. From there, I can launch off into my own writing and pull in specific ideas from books I have read. This creates a rewarding cycle of reading and writing that has kept me motivated to work through longer works of non-fiction.

Ahrens, Sönke. 2017. How to Take Smart Notes. 1st ed. North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace.


March 20, 2021

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