How to read books like a Genius ?

Yesterday, while reading an interesting book titled “Basic Managerial Skills for All” by E.H. McGrath, S.J I came across a wonderful chapter written dedicatedly for helping excited learners like you and me to read books, articles, blogs and newspapers intelligently. It was a life changing article for me…

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Facts to Remember

  • Reading shows us ultimate possibilities,alternatives and options.
  • We should always read literature of our own culture.
  • We should at least read 30 minutes a day.
  • We should seriously avoid moving our lips when we read
  • If our mind is not working, we are not reading. We’re probably only watching a book.

Tips to Make you a Genius Reader

Key Benefits of Reading

Reading walks hand in hand with freedom. Slaves are not given books. The more we read, the freer we are. We see possibilities, alternatives and options that we could not see before. Read what Skinner calls “the literature of dignity”: the great prose and poetry of your culture and others that depict characters struggling to free themselves from persons and situations that seek to diminish their  personal worth. If the average reader reads 30 minutes a day, he would read 40 books a year. Forty great books is one great education.

“Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of you choice
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of the voice.


Self Introspection Questions

How efficient are you as a reader ? The following questions will give you an idea. Be honest.

  • I adjust my speed to the type of reading material Always/Usually
  • I avoid moving my lips when I read. Always/Usually
  • I try to see the relations between title, headings, and sub-headings. Always/Usually
  • I pay great attention to words in italics. Always/Usually
  • I read to answer questions I post to myself. Always/Usually
  • I talk about my reading with others ? Always/Usually
  • I read the preface, contents, and introduction. Always/Usually
  • I pay attentions to the first sentence in a paragraph. Always/Usually
  • I avoid backward glances and re-reading words. Always/Usually
  • I have a fixed place for serious study, another for light reading. Always/Usually
  • I begin by reading summaries at the end of chapters. Always/Usually
  • I concentrate on meaning not on words. Always/Usually
  • Add you own points.


Note : The more ‘Always’ you have, the more you are ‘in the right’. Areas checked ‘No’ are those where you need to improve.

Train your Eyes

There are two basic methods for improving your reading. The first method stresses the training of the eyes; the second method stresses the training of the mind.

Begin with Eye training. Eye training means three things

  • Increasing your eye-span or the number of words you can grasp in one glance.
  • Reducing the number of time your eyes regress, flick back, or re-read.
  • Getting a more rhythmical and regular way of moving the eye while reading.


Increasing your eye-span means to see more with one glace of your eyes. The great footballer, Pele, for example, sees not only the players in front of him but those to the left and right. Great readers do the same. Think of the way you would read your promotion letter lying on your boss’s desk. In one avid glance you would catch it all. No going back, no word by word; rather, instant comprehension. That’s the way we should read.

The Public Enemy No . 1 of reading is moving our lips as we read. This slows our reading to the pace of speaking. Develop a rhythm and read on smartly.

Reading Eye to Eye

To understand how the eye does it work, do the exercise with a friend. If you do this once, you will understand how the eye works when you are reading. Here is what to do; With an ordinary pin make a pinhole at the centre of this page, or any page that has text on both sides. Now have your fiend face towards the light, this in order to light up his or her eyes. Stand facing your friend. Holding the page at eye level, ask him or her to read the text on the page facing them. Try to see your friend’s eyes  thought the pinhole. It takes a little work to get the light straight, but you will be able to do it after a few attempts. You will see your partner’s eye move along  the line with little jerks and stops. At the end of the line you will see the eyes swing back like a typewriter to the beginning of the next line. Count each time the eyes stop in their way across the line. What is the average number of stops per line ? A good reader make two or three stops per line, a poor reader, six or seven.

Down the Pyramid

Suppose I told you that I had a tin of sweets and that you could put your hand in and take out as many as you could with one grasp, but one grasp only. What would you do ? You probably would stretch you hand and take as many sweets as you could in one grasp. That is the first thing we should do when we read; grasp as many words as we can in one glance. Here’s a way to make the corners of your eyes work Develop greedy eyes.


A. Take a Postcard and put a small arrow in the top middle.

B. Put the card with its arrowhead on top of the arrowhead of one of the word pyramids. Fix your eye sharply on the arrowhead of the card and do not let your eyes more or shift. Now draw the card down slowly along the vertical line. Do not move your eyes. How far down can you go before you fail to see all the words in the line ? Don’t let your eyes shift or slip. Steady.

No Cheating. Stretch your eyes. Practice this every day for five minutes. Keep records. The number one the side tell you in type units how large an eye-span you have at this time. How wide is your eye-span now ?

Doing this for five or ten minutes a day will strengthen the habit. You should be able to get up to 30 at least with practice. This has two effects; less work for the eye muscles, more food for your mind.

Home made reading machine

You don’t have to import a foreign reading machine. You can make your own. Here’s how to make your own reading machine. It’s practically as good as any other.

Take a sheet of thick, white paper. About 7 cm from the top, cut out a 3 cm window. The window should be wide enough to extend 1 cm beyond the side of the columns of the print on the page of the book with which you will practice. In an ordinary book such as a window will frame five or six lines of print. Place the line which you will first read in the middle of the frame.

Now begin to read. As you read, begin to pull the piece of paper towards you, moving the frame down over the page. The lines which you have read will disappear above and new lines will appear at the bottom. Be sure you pull the sheet with a steady pace. Maintain a steady pull, keep up the pressure.

Mind Training for Better Reading

Eye training has its place, but almost all reading experts will tell you that mind training is even more important. Many feel, too, that if you learn to use mind better while reading, the eyes will take care of themselves. So if you really want to become an intelligent reader, you must adopt a strategy. A strategic reader is a reader with a system for getting the meaning out of his reading.

Many person, otherwise very intelligent are very poor readers. They have no plan of attack, no system. The whole secret of reading, however, lies in one small phrase. The magic phrase is


Survey – S – 5
Questions – S – 5
Read – R – 30
Restate – R – 15
Review- R – 5

This means of you have one hour for reading, spend five minutes surveying, five minutes raising questions in your mind, thirty minutes actually ‘reading’, fifteen minutes restating and give minutes reviewing.

Step – 1 (Survey)

Survey means to get an overview, to see the overall picture before going into details. Reading without first surveying is like plugging into a jungle without a map, or jumbling on a bus without knowing where it is going. In the case of a book, first read the Preface, Contents, and the last chapter. Get the author’s purpose and audience. Skim through the intervening chapter titles. In the case of a chapter or article, read the last paragraph first, then read the first sentence of every paragraph in between.

The first and last paragraphs, just are likely to be more important than other paragraphs, just as the first sentence of every paragraph is usually more important than the other sentences. In reading these sentences, you are usually reading the most meaningful sentence in the article. This can often give the entire thought of an article with a minute or two

Notice Paragraph Size

A summary paragraph is particularly important. Long paragraphs, usually mean heavy going (developed ideas), short paragraphs, easy going (a series of underdeveloped thoughts).

Note words in italics

The author uses titles to say to you: “This is something I wish to stress.” “This is important”.

Look at diagrams

The author feels that this is best way to express the thought/

Note Signpost words

In every article or chapter there are words which are signpost that tell you where you are, e.g. first, secondly, in summary. There are other words that helps your understanding by indicating the direction of the thought. Some words tell you to speed up, i.e. more of the same is coming: also, likewise, furthermore, in addition; other words tell you to slow down: but, on the other hand, although, despite, however, and other words say ‘Here is the main point’ : thus, therefore, consequently, accordingly.


Select a fairly serious book. You have 30 seconds. Within that time find the exact purpose and specific audience that the author has in mind. Check the answer for accuracy: do you really know where the author’s going ? Where he’s talking you ?

Step – 2 (Questions)

After surveying the material, you’re  still not ready to read. Never start reading until you have questions in your head. You should be asking questions before you start reading, as well as while you are reading. Questions should start with the title: what does the title tell me about the contents of the article or book ? What do I think be included and what do I think will be excluded ? How much time do I wish to devote to this reading ?

Reading is thinking plus questions. We only learn when we ask questions; we read and remember best when we read to answer our questions and problems. By raising questions in our mind continually from the title and headings we get in the proper mental position for reading.

We must ask questions not only before we read but while we read. Just like a person driving a scooter. He has drive defensively; will that cyclist turn left or will he continue straight ? Will that goat dash across the road or won’t he ? The careful driver is always asking questions. So too, as we read, questions should be there: Do I agree ? Who says so ? What proof ? What follows from this ? Where will be author go from here ? Questions should continually dance in our head as we read. Otherwise, we are just watching .

Step – 3 (Read)

Read as you ride a cycle: slowly uphill, quickly downhill and carefully where there is danger. Read difficult matter slowly, light matter quickly and tendentious matter cautiously. Be flexible. Keep a calm pressure on yourself to move as quickly as possible. Just as in cycling so in reading, we pay more attention when we’re moving quickly than when we go slowly. The fast reader is usually the fast learner.

Read for thought-units, not word-units. You receive no garlands for merely reading words. Words don’t fill the mind but meaning does. Your mind doesn’t live on words but on meaning. So keep looking for answers to questions as you read. If your mind is not working, you’re not reading. You’re probably only watching a book. Reading is thinking with questions.

Look for the main thoughts and important details. Sometimes under a mountain of words, there’s only a single idea. Every hour give yourself a break. Get up, stretch. Look at the scenery.

Step – (4 Restate)

To restate means to put your book down at intervals and to tell yourself what you have read. It’s the key to solid learning. Good readers do it. Poor reading do not. Regularly, then, stop reading, look up and tell yourself the main points and important details of what you are reading. It can be a little embarrassing but it’s the only way to see hat you remember.

When you restate ? Every paragraph would be too much but a chapter may be too long. If the reading has headings, at the end of every heading may be a good interval. Research has shown that generally the reader who restates can remember three times more than one who does not.

Step – (5 Review)

Review, the fifth and last step in your reading strategy, is simply repeating the fist four steps. You again survey, questions, read and restate, now not what you will read but what you have read.

So to review skim back over the material, surveying the headings again, answering your questions and the questions they pose, re-reading items you are hazy about and can’t remember, and restating the central message with its parts and their relations.

Reviewing is like marking your own examination paper. By skimming back over the matter, you see whether you deserve a fist class, third or fail. You may rate yourself low on you first attempt but very soon you’ll see your grades shoot up.

Be an Active Reader

Reading is essentially an active process. One reader is better than another in proportion as he or she is capable of a greater range of activity in reading. People easily see that writing and speaking are active processes; they sometimes fail to realize that listening and reading are active processes also. They wrongly think of reading and listening as passive reception from an active giver and suppose that receiving a communication is like receiving a gift or an injection. The truth is that reading is better or worse according as it is more or less active.

A large vocabulary enables you to follow the thought of a writer more easily. The more words you know, the better and quicker your understanding. You cannot become an efficient reader upon a small vocabulary, especially in English, which has more words  600,000 than any other language, and which is continually swelling with additions from many other languages.

So make a note of words that you don’t understand when you come across them. Try to figure out the meaning from the context, from the sense of the sentence or paragraph. You will find clues. Look them up later in a dictionary and when you do, take a good clear look at the words. That first ‘snapshot’ of a new work is important.

Have a little book in which to write new words and review them periodically. if you use them three times, they get into your working vocabulary, they are yours for a lifetime and you’re a better reader, an active reader.

Today, when knowledge is exploding in every field, you are out of it, you are dead, if you cease to read. As the song goes, ‘If you are not busy being born, you’re busy dying.’ Stay alive all your life. Read !

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