Philosophy 31 - 2.5.1 Prepare to Read

Preparing your reading space will help you focus and improve the chances of retaining the reading material. Read at a table with a comfortable chair instead of on a couch or in a bed. Sitting up straight improves concentration. Have something to drink nearby, and avoid distractions, like TV or music with lyrics. Some people find it helpful to have a little bit of bustle around them (for example, you might choose to work in a café or library), while others find this distracting. Some people like music; others prefer silence. Find the setting that helps you concentrate.

Next, choose an annotation tool. You will need to write notes, underline, and flag portions of the reading, so use text you can alter whenever possible. If you are working with a printed text, use a pencil so that you can erase and rewrite notes in the margin. Many students use highlighters when reading text, but readers have a tendency to highlight too much, which makes the highlighting useless when you go back and reread. A better system is to write marginal notes or markers to flag and identify key passages. You can devise a simple coding system using symbols to identify different parts of a text: for example, main ideas or topics, examples, arguments, references to other philosophers, questions, and quotations to use in papers. If you are working with a digital text, there are many tools you can use to write notes and place markers in the text. OpenStax provides a useful annotation tool for its web-based textbooks, allowing you to create notes that link passages and even to review your notes all together. The purpose of annotation is to create a visual trail you can come back to for easy tracking of an argument. This will ensure you do not need to reread large portions of the text to find key information for studying or writing a paper. Annotations allow you to move quickly through a text, identifying key passages for quotes or citations, understanding the flow of the argument, and remembering the key claims or points made by the author.

This lesson has no exercises.

The content of this course has been taken from the free Philosophy textbook by Openstax