When reading a book, you may suddenly notice that you have no idea what is going on in the text. This can be frustrating and may even tempt you to put the book down and never open it again. Resist this urge, as it is important to deal immediately with confusing passages in books. You can also try to better understand what you read by changing the way you read books.
Method 1 of 3: Deal With Confusing Passages
Step 1. Read on to see if you can understand the passage
It's easy to get stuck in the confusing parts of books. Read the paragraphs before and after the passage you don't understand. If you're still confused, read a few more pages.
Sometimes putting confusing passages in the larger context of the book will help you get a sudden "grasp."
Step 2. Reread the confusing part
Read the passage at least twice (and maybe up to three or four times). Each time you read it, focus especially on the sentences that are causing you problems. Perhaps this additional level of concentration clears up your confusion.
Step 3. Divide the passage into sections to outline it
Identify the beginning, the middle, and the end. Find out what the general purpose of the passage and each of the sections is. Write this outline on a piece of notebook paper.
You may be stuck on a description of the Battle of Gettysburg in an American History textbook. Write a timeline that includes the start, the decisive moments, and the end of the battle. Along the timeline, write down how each phase of the battle transferred the advantage to one side or the other
Step 4. Check for examples
It's easy to get confused when books include complex terms and ideas. Fortunately, many authors quickly turn to examples to better illustrate what they mean. If you don't see the example right away, turn a few pages.
Step 5. Look for the things you don't understand
Perhaps you are confused by a word or a reference that you do not recognize. Go to a dictionary, the internet, or even your local library to check these points. This measurement can help you understand what you just read.
- When searching online, be sure to look for credible websites. Try sites ending in.org or.gov first. Be on the lookout for articles that have spelling or grammatical errors.
- Keep a dictionary nearby when reading. There will always be a word or two that you don't recognize.
Step 6. Finish the book and get back to the confusing point
Don't let the confusing passage stop you from finishing the book. Try to guess what the passage means and read on. You can only understand a book if you read it from cover to cover.
Write down the page numbers of any passages in a book that you cannot immediately understand. When you finish reading the entire book, go back to the passage and see if it makes sense now
Step 7. Ask for help when you have finished the book
If you still have trouble understanding the confusing parts of the book, turn to a friend. It could be a friend, teacher, or family member who is also reading the book. If the two of you are confused, maybe you can solve the problem by working together and talking about the book.
Method 2 of 3: Set yourself up for success as you read the book
Step 1. Find a good place to read
Avoiding distractions will help you stay focused on the book. Pick somewhere away from the television. Put the phone in silent mode and place it slightly away from you. Make sure there is a lamp or window nearby so you don't strain your eyes while reading.
Step 2. Opt for physical books over e-books for better understanding
Your brain better absorbs the unfolding of history and information when you read physical books. This is because you can observe the thickness of the book and use your body to interact with it (for example, turning the pages) as you read.
If you prefer e-readers, there is no problem. However, if you have trouble understanding books, try reading a physical one and jotting down any changes that occur in your understanding
Step 3. Read the book slowly but steadily
Take the time to process what you read. Try to set aside at least twenty minutes and up to an hour each day to read. Do not go many days without going back to the book, as you may forget what you have read.
Step 4. Take notes as you read
Have a notebook handy when you read. Use several pieces of paper to keep track of the main characters, key terms, important plot points, overview questions, and things that confuse you. You can refer to these notes later to remind yourself what the book is about.
Step 5. Join a book club for group discussions
Talking about books is a good way to really understand them. Others may notice things that you don't, and vice versa. Talk to your friends or go to a local library to join or organize a book club.
Method 3 of 3: Delve into the book
Step 1. Find information about when the book was written
Understanding the reason the book was written can help you with comprehension as you read it. Search online for major events that occurred in the world when it was written. Write them down to create a cheat sheet for later.
- It may also be important to think about who wrote the book. Perhaps you are reading a novel written by someone who was jailed for having opinions that the government considered dangerous. Reflect on what could have been dangerous about the book you read.
- This also applies to textbooks. For example, a history textbook written in 1950 may focus your attention on the Cold War.
Step 2. Think about the purpose of the book
Pay attention to the key lessons, depending on the general point of the book. A romance novel will teach readers about love and relationships, and that is what you should pay attention to when reading it. On the other hand, the purpose of a science textbook is to teach you about a particular topic, usually using key terms, examples, and an occasional anecdote.
Step 3. Write a summary or analysis of the book
Even if you don't read the book for a class assignment, consider writing something about the book when you're done. Briefly summarize the book or use an excerpt to make your own argument about the importance and quality of the book.
- Understanding some books may cost a little more than others. This is often a matter of personal preference and not of whether the book is "good" or "bad." Reflect on the reasons why you don't like the book. If it has too many descriptions and you prefer dialogue and character development, feel free to skip these boring passages. You can read them again at any time.
- If you are an auditory learner, consider also listening to a physical version of the book that you are reading.