One of the reasons people do not read as much as should, at least according to what they tell me, is that they do not understand what they are reading. They end up reading the same thing over and over again, not understanding what they are seeing, and give up in frustration. They decide reading is of no practical value, and so they go and do something else. How can a person, particularly a person with limited experience, break this cycle? I would like to give you a few suggestions, if I may.

1. Read Magazine articles

Magazine articles are written to be read relatively quickly, and are typically focused on a single idea. Often the writer of the article starts with the assumption that the reader knows little or nothing about the topic of the article, and so he starts at from there. So the reader needs very little in the way of background information to learn from the article.

However, let me be clear about something here. I am not talking about gossip mags and the such. I am talking about magazines which write serious articles. While you do not have to go to the extreme of "Communications of the ACM", you need to read magazines which deal with serious topics. A few suggestions would be "Science", "Success", and even "The New Yorker". Just find articles which have some real thought behind them.

2. Ignore what you do not know.

If you are reading an article and you come across a word you do not know, keep reading. More than 90% of the time, one of two things will happen. First, the idea could be safely ignored while still getting the main idea of the article. Second, the idea could be explained later in the article. What do you do not want to do, except in extreme cases, is to stop your reading to look the word up. Keep the flow of words going, and if you need to look something up, do so afterwards.

3. Read more

Everything you read causes your mind to become more limber and more powerful. Reading is an exercise program for the mind. Even if you do not understand everything you read, you will understand more than you did before. Keeping reading, keep exercising the mind, and you will be able to comprehend more.

4. Read fiction

Good fiction writers base their story on something in the real world. That means they have to research a topic before they include it in their stories. While the characters, actions, and dialogues are not real, the context and basis of a good story is real. By reading fiction, you can see how these different situations can be understood. And who knows, you might even get to like the stories.

5. Network with others

Other people have experiences you do not have. They have an understanding of things you have not yet experienced. By talking with others, you can gain at least some understanding of what they know. This can then be used to understand readings that you did not understand before. Every time you meet someone, it is an opportunity to learn more. Use these chances well.

6. Keep a journal

Many times I am exposed to ideas that I have never experienced before. Often the first time I encounter a new idea, I understand it then, but I forget it later. If you want to improve your memory, take up a journal. In your journal, write down the new ideas and experiences you had that day. The mere act of writing it down (not typing, writing) will help you remember better.

Wrapping Up

Improving your reading comprehension is not something you need to fear. It comes with practice and exposure. By being conscious of the learning opportunities you are being exposed to, you will become a more understanding reader. And that will make reading a lot more enjoyable.

Author's Bio: 

John Steely has been teaching mathematics, study skills, and habits of success for over 25 years. You can access a number of free resources he has found and made at Steely Services