–Sondi Warner, Writer/Blogger for Wrought Iron Reads
Has it ever been this easy to find great books? At no other point in history has the world’s best writing been merely a strike of keys or mouse-click away. There are over a million published in America each year, half or more of which are indie produced. If that seems like a crowded market, it is; but, millennials are consuming books with a voracious appetite. The only question is, are we reading deep enough?
In a 2014 Pew Research Center study, 88 percent of the Under 30 crowd reported reading a book within the past year compared with 79 percent of the Over 30 group. “Some 43% report reading a book—in any format—on a daily basis,” according to the report by Kathryn Zickuhr and Lee Rainie.
However, Millennialmarketing.com cautions against “reading” too much into the stats. Millennials may be reading more, but we’re reading differently than other generations. “They are reading for information, so they read with purpose and are very good ‘scanners‘.”
This generation is thoroughly equipped to quickly pull the most useful information from any text. From skimming news articles to browsing leisure books, we walk away from the reading experience having gained something, but there’s more to be gained by digging deeper with Deep Reading.
Time Magazine had this to say in an article titled Reading Literature Makes Us Smarter and Nicer:
Recent research in cognitive science, psychology and neuroscience has demonstrated that deep reading — slow, immersive, rich in sensory detail and emotional and moral complexity — is a distinctive experience, different in kind from the mere decoding of words.
[…]That immersion is supported by the way the brain handles language rich in detail, allusion and metaphor: by creating a mental representation that draws on the same brain regions that would be active if the scene were unfolding in real life. The emotional situations and moral dilemmas that are the stuff of literature are also vigorous exercise for the brain, propelling us inside the heads of fictional characters and even, studies suggest, increasing our real-life capacity for empathy.
Deep reading is slow reading. It’s the careful ingestion of words, pausing to analyze their meanings and relevance to the reader’s own life. It may require, not just slowing down but, stopping or even rereading certain passages. Deep reading is a sophisticated process of critical thinking, and it’s something anyone with a mind to apply the practice can do.
Read for Purpose
When you select a book, practice bringing something other than curiosity or a desire to be entertained to the table. For instance, if you are reading a historical romance, you might set a goal to learn something new about the era in which the book is set. A science fiction novel might inspire you to contemplate human behavior. The key is to find meaning in your text rather than seeking “answers.”
Simply Slow Down
The next time you sit down to read, make plans to be there for a while. Don’t grab your book unless you can avoid your phone, social media and television. Let your friends and family know you won’t be available indefinitely. Instead of grousing at the bookstore or the library, get somewhere you’re welcome to linger for as long as you like. Part of the reason we speed read is because we feel we’re pressed for time, but if we eliminate this illusion, we’ll find the time to sit with a book for hours.
And if you can’t get away for hours, then don’t try to finish the chapter. Read a paragraph or two. Revisit that paragraph. Think about how it relates to you or how the character might speak to you in real life. The goal isn’t to finish a book. It’s to read it.
Stay With It
I have a tendency to quickly grab another book as soon as I’m finished reading one. Instead try staying with the book you’ve finished. Write about your take-aways after reading. Find your favorite quotes within the book, mark your favorite passages, etc. If there was a section you particularly liked, go back to it and read it again to see if it resonates the same.
Elite Daily explains Why Readers, Scientifically, Are The Best People To Fall In Love With, “They have the capacity for empathy. They may not always agree with you, but they will try to see things from your point of view.”
Add deep reading to voracious reading, and the results can be life-changing. With millennials reading more, an entire generation of deep readers and deep thinkers can, in fact, change the world.
Looking to test out your Deep Reading skills? Find Your Next Read.
Encourage readers to get deep into your books by learning The 7 Qualities of High-Concept Stories.