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Monday, August 27, 2007

Get More from Your Book - Secrets to Deep Reading

What is Deep Reading?

Deep reading is a collection of techniques that help you see themes, patterns, and secrets hidden in the novels you read.

But isn't that the same thing as literary analysis?

It's similar to literary analysis, but literary analysis tends to focus on one theme or subject. Also, literary analysis tends to have a goal, to make an argument about a piece of writing. Deep reading is done for yourself, not for a class, and not to make a point. By reading deeply, you explore a book and discover its secrets.

Deep reading can help you perform literary analysis, but it is not literary analysis.

Why Do I Care?

Deep reading can turn a book into a brain puzzle like sudoku, a cryptic crossword, or an anagram puzzle. It's like a mystery novel, except discovering the mystery is a mystery itself, or there are multiple hidden mysteries, all in one book. Some of these are placed by the author intentionally, and some are not.

Figuring out these mysteries is rewarding, and that's why we do it. It's that flash of insight, that, "Oh, I get it!" moment you get when Perry Mason or Adrian Monk says to the cops, "Here's how it happened." Or even better, it's when you cleverly figure out what happened *before* Mr. Mason or Mr. Monk.

Except there is no Perry Mason or Adrian Monk. You are the detective.

Is it Difficult?

Deep reading is no more difficult than reading, and anyone can do it. The worse that can happen is that you read a book just like you normally do. However, if you use the techniques of deep reading, you will begin to notice more details, make more connections, and discover more of the secrets hidden in the books you read, whether the author intended you to find them or not.

Coming Up!

This article is the first in a series. Coming up in the next few days:

Part 2: The Techniques of Deep Reading
Part 3: Details, Patterns, Tropes
Part 4: Community Spirit


chrisd said...

I'm curious, but don't know if I'll do it. I might already BE doing it.

I'm in several critique groups and when I read for pleasure, I just try to read like a reader. (makes sense???)

Will try to stop by and read your next few posts!

Joel said...

It's certainly possible that you do it already, especially if you also write.

And it makes sense that you would "read like a reader." If a story doesn't grab and hold the casual reader, than no matter what extras the author has put in it, it has probably failed.