STOP THAT. YES YOU.
DO NOT READ ANOTHER PAGE.
Look at you. You’re a mess. Academia everywhere, more than one coffee pot brewing – frankly I’m surprised one pair of glasses per year cuts it these days. Those tired, tired eyes… there is no WAY 1-800 Contacts can have YOUR BRAND of magical graduate school super readers with vision enhancements for the 2 a.m. must-ingest-knowledge-but-don’t-know-why attack of the crazies.
I am here to help. Well, this article on how to read while not actually reading is here to help. Read that book in ONE HOUR.
According to Larry Cebula, here is how you do it in ten little tips (so if it ruins your grades and life’s work – you can blame him):
1. Create a clean space–a table, the book, paper and a writing utensil, and nothing else.
2. Read two academic reviews of the book you photocopied beforehand. Allow five minutes for this.
3. Read the introduction, CAREFULLY and take good notes (with a bibliographic citation at the top of the page.) Allow twenty minutes here.
4. Now turn directly to the conclusion and read that. The conclusion will reinforce the thesis and have some more quotable material. In your notes write down 1-2 direct quotes suitable for using in a review or literature review, should you later be assigned to write such a beast. Ten to fifteen minutes.
5. Turn to the table of contents and think about what each chapter likely contains. Five minutes.
6. (Optional) Skim 1-2 of what seem to be the key chapters. Look for something clever the author has done with her or his evidence, memorable phrases, glaring weaknesses–stuff you can mention and sound thoughtful. Ten minutes, max.
7. Put the notes and photocopied review in a file folder. These folders will serve as fodder for future assignments, reviews of similar books, lectures, grant applications, etc.
8. Miller time. Meet some friends and tell them the interesting things you just learned (driving it deeper it your memory).
9. If a book is considered especially important, or if it falls squarely within your research area, you should give it more time.
10. Don’t tell your professor you read the book in an hour or he or she will most likely flunk you.