What is ROMAN Reading?

ROMAN stands for Read, Outline, Mark, Ask, Name. With these five skills you can read any book, no matter how difficult. For more information, download my free eBook: ROMAN Reading: 5 Practical Skills for Transforming Your Life through Literature. Isn't it time you begin to change your life one page at a time?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

ROMAN Reading Exercise 3: "The Telltale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe

The newest ROMAN Reading practice story is the classic by Edgar Allen Poe, "The Telltale Heart." Don't forget that all of the ROMAN Reading practice stories are available on the resource page of NickSenger.com.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Announcing Teen Literacy Tips

(Cross posted at Literary Compass)

I am very pleased to announce the launch of my major web project, Teen Literacy Tips. If you are a junior or senior high teacher or administrator, a homeschooling parent, or a parent who wants to enrich your teen's classroom education, Teen Literacy Tips is designed for you. Please tell as many people as you can about it. Here's an excerpt from the introductory page:

This site will help you turn each of your students into the elusive Literate Teenager -- spontaneous yet intelligent, energetic yet thoughtful, the despair of nutritionists and the hope of the world. If you're a junior or senior high teacher, a concerned parent, or a school administrator, the materials you find here will help you teach teens to be more human, to be more intelligent, and to be more analytical. Using the skills and resources on this site, you'll become the reading mentor students need: the Gandalf to their Frodo, the Good Witch to their Dorothy, the Socrates to their Plato.

The heart of this site is Teen Literacy Tips, an educational blog that provides you with teaching techniques and advice several times a week. You can subscribe to the feed using a blog reader, or you can simply bookmark the page and visit it each day.

The discussion forums give you a chance to connect with other teachers and parents who face the same challenges you do when it comes to teaching teens to improve their reading habits and skills.

And one of the most exciting areas is the resources section, where you will find lessons, book lists, articles, and much more, including audio and video files that you can download. This area will be expanding greatly during the coming months, so be sure to visit it frequently.

I've even partnered with Simply Hired to provide job listings for those of you that might be fresh out of college and looking for work, or for those of you looking for a change of scene.
Please drop by and leave a comment, and if you like what you see, spread the word. You can find it at www.TeenLiteracy.com or www.NickSenger.com.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

How to Turn a Book into a Treasured Heirloom

(Cross-posted at Literary Compass)

Stefanie at So Many Books has just posted a review of ROMAN Reading and it's generating some great comments about marking in books. Here's one by Whatladder that I particularly like:

My husband claims that his favourite book ever is the copy of the Norton Anthology of Poetry I gave him that had all my pencilled notes in it.
What a terrific reminder of the value of marking in books. Besides helping you engage in the text, writing in a book also leaves a visible sign of your presence. When Whatladder's husband reads her marked up book of poetry, he's not just coming into contact with great writers, he's getting to know his wife more intimately. She's there in those pages--her ideas, her reactions, her spirit. I think it's beautifully romantic that her husband has recognized that.

Can you imagine a more meaningful and personal family heirloom than a library of books full of our own thoughts, comments and insights? Think of our children and grandchildren reading through them, getting to know their ancestors. I would love to have a set of books written in by my grandparents. We only get to know our parents and grandparents when they're older; what if we could read their minds when they were our age? What if I could know what my own father thought about life when he was twenty or thirty or forty? Leaving comments in books gives us that chance.

Let's take it a step further: What if your grandmother wrote comments in her copy of Pride and Prejudice, for example. And what if your mother inherited it and added her comments to her mother's? And now the book is yours. Not only do you have a treasured physical possession, you also have something far more valuable: your mother's and grandmother's intimate thoughts and emotions captured for a brief moment on paper. But there's more: Now you have the chance to add your own reflections, insights and reactions to the book for your daughter to read.

Here's an idea: Buy a book with one of your children or grandchildren in mind and read it, marking it up as you go. You can direct the comments directly to them, or you can simply mark it up as you would any piece of literature. After you've finished the book, wrap it up and give it to them as a present. Save it for graduation, or their wedding, or a significant birthday. Maybe give it to them on their confirmation or bar mitzvah, or at a baby shower.

For more about marking up a text, download my free ebook ROMAN Reading: 5 Practical Skills for Transforming Your Life through Literature.

What People Are Saying about ROMAN Reading

(Updated May 19, 2007)

The buzz about ROMAN Reading is continuing to increase. Here's a roundup of what people have to say:

  • "...a very handy guide...It is simply but attractively formatted and has some very good ideas to improve reading habits." -- Julie at Happy Catholic
  • "It basically follows many of Mortimer Adler's suggestions in the classic How to Read a Book, but it is shorter and easier to read (74 pages). I am thinking it might be a good read for a middle school or starting high school student, or a good starter book or review for a parent who wants a quick overview of the essentials of how to read good literature." -- Willa, In a Spacious Place
  • "...a useful guide for those just beginning their literary careers." -- Becky, Farmschool
  • "...a clean and simple format, interspersed with inspiring literary quotes. He also includes tips for people who might be intimidated by the classics, and lists some helpful books on reading and as well as a selection of classic books that most often appear on "great books" lists. And did I mention it's free? Anyone looking for a quick reading tune-up, or perhaps wanting to inspire a new reader, should have a look at ROMAN Reading." -- Sylvia, Classical Bookworm
  • "ROMAN Reading is a simple, easy book. It’s great for new readers and readers who want to become better readers but may be intimidated by “literature.” It’s also good for experienced readers, a pleasant reminder to not be lazy. Oh, yeah, and it’s free!" -- Stefanie, So Many Books
  • "Just as Senger (and Mortimer J. Adler before him) envisions reading as chatting with another human being, I feel that playing through music is a similar experience." -- JupiterJenkins.com
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to write about ROMAN Reading. If you've written about it please let me know, as I'll be continally updating this page.

Monday, May 14, 2007

How to Read Like a Classical Bookworm

Sylvia at Classical Bookworm has a post that every budding reader should see. She's reading Don Quixote right now, and in her post she explains how she's reading it. Here's a sample:

After finishing a chapter I write a quick prose summary of what happened, just two to four sentences. I've found that summarizing the action in my own words and in complete sentences makes it stick in my mind far better than point form notes. After that I review what I underlined and pick out what still seems important and write it down as notes or quotes, as appropriate.
And take a look at this fantastic picture:

Unlike me, Sylvia likes to use a mechanical pencil when she marks her books, and she also uses a moleskin journal for her notes, a terrific example of how readers find their own style and their own tools. Be sure to read the rest of the post. And see all of Sylvia's posts about Don Quixote at Tilting at Windmills.

Friday, May 11, 2007

ROMAN Reading Exercise 2: "God Sees the Truth, But Waits" by Leo Tolstoy

I've uploaded another practice text, "God Sees the Truth, But Waits," by Leo Tolstoy.

And I'd like to mention a new addition to my family of blogs, Free Daily Learning. Learn something new every day on a variety of topics. Recent posts include: how to cook Cheesy Soul-Food Meatballs N Baked Potato Casserole, the correct way to dribble, and how to submit a podcast to iTunes.

Subscribe to the feed and get a new tutorial each and every day. Increase your knowledge. Impress your family at the dinner table. Visit Free Daily Learning.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

ROMAN Reading Now Available as a Free Audio Book

(Cross posted at Literary Compass)

ROMAN Reading: 5 Practical Skills for Transforming Your Life through Literature is now available as a free mp3 download at FreeIQ. To download the file you have to get a free acount, but once you join you'll have access to some great content. I've also made the audio book available as streaming audio, so that you can embed the file on your blog if you want, like this:

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

For more on why I wrote the book and why I'm giving it away for free, see this post, where you can also find a link to download it.

Monday, May 7, 2007

ROMAN Reading Now Availabe as a Free Streaming Audio Book

If you're already a member of FreeIQ you can now listen to an unabridged audio recording of ROMAN Reading. Right now it's only available as an audio stream, which means you have to listen to it in your web browser, but keep checking back in the next few days as I work on making it available as a free mp3 download.

If you're not a member of FreeIQ, I highly recommend joining. It's free, and the content is extremely high quality. It's like an educated person's Youtube, with the added benefit of being able to make money from the site. It's still in Beta, so the best content is yet to come, but there are already some great ebooks, audio programs, and videos.

If you have ebooks, video, or audio programs you want to sell on FreeIQ, I'd be happy to help you set up an account. Email me at literarycompass@gmail.com.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Romans Are Reading ROMAN Reading!

Thank you to everyone who has downloaded ROMAN Reading so far. Each day the downloads continue to grow. People from all over the world are reading it. Here's a sampling of a few of the places: California, Florida, the Ivory Coast, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, Barcelona, Canada, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Mexico, and finally, yes, ROME! Now I can really call it ROMAN Reading.

A special thank you to everyone who has emailed it to friends, blogged about it or posted a link on forums to which they belong. I've seen a big increase in traffic the last couple of days, and I really appreciate it.

Let's keep the world reading! One way you can help is to give a short review of the book over at FreeIQ or Scribd. I believe you have to sign up to give reviews (both sites are free), so if you already have an account, or if you don't mind signing up, please consider writing a review.

FreeIQ also gives you the option of ranking it on a scale of 1 to 10. FreeIQ is a fantastic site, but it's very new, so most of the content right now is business oriented. The more books like mine get ranked and rated, the more other educators will be encouraged to put their materials online.

Also, don't forget to sign up for the ROMAN Reading Newsletter. I never give your email addresses to anyone, so don't worry about spam. I hate it as much as you do. And you can always unsubscribe if you want to. Thanks to the many who have already signed up.

I've got big plans for ROMAN Reading, and I'll be using the newsletter to share some of them with you.

You can always email me with any questions you have about the book, or with suggestions for the next edition. That's why I called it ROMAN Reading 1.0. I want to incorporate your ideas and suggestions, so please let me know what I can do for you.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

ROMAN Reading Exercise 1: "The Bet" by Anton Chekhov

I've just uploaded a copy of Anton Chekhov's "The Bet" for practice. It's perfect for beginning to use the 5 skills of ROMAN Reading: it's short, controversial, and open to several interpretations. "The Bet" is one of the first stories I have my students read, and it always leads to deep discussions about the value of life, books, and freedom. After you read it, why not leave a comment about what you think it means?

Remember to sign up for the ROMAN Reading newsletter at FreeIQ.

Please send ROMAN Reading to as many people as possible. You can send it as an email attachment or you can send a link to www.romanreading.com.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

5 Tips for Marking Up a Book

The best way to stay attentive and focused while you read is to mark or highlight the book. Don't be afraid to write on the pages (unless the book belongs to someone else!). There's an old saying, "Bibles that are falling apart usually belong to people who aren't." If your books look like new when you finish reading them, have you really read them? Here's a vivid metaphor to help you see the importance of marking:

When a wolf needs to mark its territory, it roams the area looking for raised objects like rocks or tree stumps. It then urinates on the objects to leave its scent for other wolves to find. When you read a book, you look for important words, phrases and ideas to circle, underline or otherwise highlight. When you leave your marks in a book you claim it as your own, just as a wolf claims its territory with its marks. You leave a sign to others that this is your book and these marks are your ideas. The most important person you're leaving the marks for is your future self. When you reread the book in later years you can see from the marks you left behind what kind of person you were when you first read it, and how much you've grown since then.

Here are five ways to improve marking in books:

  1. Use a pen, not a highlighter. You can't write words or sentences with a highlighter, they're too thick. As I mentioned in ROMAN Reading, my preferred pen is the green Sanford Uniball with the microfine point.
  2. Use the white spaces. Those empty spaces on the title pages and at the beginning and end of chapters are perfect for recording notes, outlines, summaries and various thoughts about what you're reading.
  3. Use symbols and shortcuts. Try using an exclamation mark (!), asterisk (*) or question mark (?) in the margin to save time.
  4. Mark entire paragraphs with brackets. If you want to mark an entire paragraph, don't underline the whole thing, just draw a bracket or a set of vertical lines along the side. That way you can still circle certain words or phrases within the paragraph.
  5. Don't overmark! One reason to mark a book is to be able to find things again. If the entire book ends up being green, you've defeated the purpose.
Next time you read, be sure to mark your intellectual territory.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

New Free eBook Will Improve Your Reading Habits in Under an Hour

Read my free eBook ROMAN Reading: 5 Practical Skills for Transforming Your Life through Literature, and in less than an hour you'll have learned reading skills that will last a lifetime.

You deserve to read the greatest thinkers of the world, and I can show you how with five simple, practical skills. I've been teaching others for sixteen years, and I can teach you. And I'll do it for free.

Why? Because I have a mission, and I want you to share it with me. The mission? Changing lives one page at a time. I want to make the world a more literate place, a place where people think for themselves, learn about their world, and share their ideas with each other.

A literate world is a world of peace, tolerance and vision. We've got our work cut out for us.

To accomplish this mission, I am giving this eBook away for free. No shipping and handling charges, no filling out any forms, just a direct download here (1.86mb pdf).

But I need your help. I need you to turn this eBook into a virus that sweeps the world, a reading infection that keeps spreading itself from friend to friend, reader to reader. We need to get this book into the hands of reading groups, teachers, homeschoolers, high school and college students, and interested readers of all ages.

How can you help?

  • Download the book and read it!
  • Share it with all your friends.
  • Keep visiting this website often for more tips on reading literature.
  • Sign up for the ROMAN Reading newsletter at FreeIQ
Together we can make the world a more literate place by changing lives one page at a time.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Nick's ROMAN Reading List Part I

Here is part one of the reading list found in my book ROMAN Reading.

[Note: An L indicates that this title is available as a free, unabridged audio download from Librivox.org.]

Books that showed up on 13 of 13 lists:
Thucydides - History of the Peloponnesian War - L

Books that showed up on 12 of 13 lists

Miguel de Cervantes — Don Quixote
Herodotus - The Histories
Homer - The Iliad
Michel de Montaigne - Complete Essays

Books that showed up on 11 of 13 lists
Lucretius - Of the Nature of the Universe
Rabelais - Gargantua and Pantagruel
Virgil - The Aeneid

Books that showed up on 10 of 13 lists

St. Augustine — Confessions
Homer - The Odyssey
Machiavelli - The Prince - L
Jonathan Swift - Gulliver's Travels

Books that showed up on 9 of 13 lists:
Aeschylus - The Oresteia
Aristotle - Nichomachean Ethics
Rene Descartes - Discourse on Method - L
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - Faust
Leo Tolstoy - War and Peace
Voltaire - Candide

Books that showed up on 8 of 13 lists:

Aristotle - Poetics - L
Marcus Aurelius - Meditations
Fyodor Dostoyevski - The Brothers Karamazov
Henry Fielding - Tom Jones
Thomas Hobbes - Leviathan
John Stuart Mill - On Liberty
John Milton - Paradise Lost
Blaise Pascal - Pensees
Plato - Republic
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex, Antigone
Mark Twain - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - L

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Nick's ROMAN Reading List, Part II

Here is part two of the ROMAN Reading List

[Note: An L indicates that this title is available as a free, unabridged audio download from Librivox.org.]

Books that showed up on 7 of 13 lists:
Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice - L1; L2
Geoffrey Chaucer - The Canterbury Tales - L
Dante Alighieri - The Divine Comedy - L
Edward Gibbon - Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Plato - Symposium
Plutarch - Lives
William Shakespeare - Complete Works
Murasaki Shikibu - The Tale of Genji
Vyasa - Mahabharata

Books that showed up on 6 of 13 lists
Jane Austen - Emma - L
James Boswell - The Life of Samuel Johnson
Charles Darwin - The Origin of Species
Daniel DeFoe - Robinson Crusoe - L
Fyodor Dostoyevski - Crime and Punishment
George Eliot - Middlemarch
Euripides - Bacchae, Hippolytus
Hamilton, Madison, Jay - The Federalist Papers
William James - Pragmatism
Franz Kafka - The Trial
John Locke - Second Treatise on Government
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels - The Communist Manifesto - L
Herman Melville - Moby Dick
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche - Thus Spake Zarathustra
George Orwell - Nineteen Eighty-four
Plato - Crito
Jean Jacques Rousseau - Confessions
Sai Shonagon - The Pillow Book
Baruch Spinoza - Ethics
Stendhal - The Red and the Black
Laurence Sterne - Tristram Shandy
Valmiki - The Ramayana
Virginia Woolf - To the Lighthouse
Cao Xeugin - The Story of the Stone

Books that showed up on 5 of 13 lists
Aristophanes - The Clouds
Samuel Beckett - Waiting for Godot
John Bunyan - Pilgrim's Progress - L
Albert Camus - The Stranger
Anton Chekhov - Uncle Vanya
Confucius - The Analects
Charles Dickens - Pickwick Papers
Desiderius Erasmus - In Praise of Folly
Euclid - Elements
William Faulkner - The Sound and the Fury
Gustave Flaubert - Madame Bovary
Sigmund Freud - The Interpretation of Dreams
James Joyce - Ulysses
Franz Kafka - The Castle
Kalidasa - Sakuntala
Immanuel Kant - Critique of Pure Reason
Lao-Tzu (Laozi) - Tao te Ching (Daodejing) - L
Mencius - The Book of Mencius
John Milton - Areopagitica
Moliere - Tartuffe
Vladimir Nabokov - Lolita
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche - Beyond Good and Evil - L
Plato - Meno
Plotinus - Enneads
Marcel Proust - Remembrance of Things Past
Sima Qian - Records of the Grand Historian
Sophocles - Oedipus at Colonnus
Ivan Turgenev - Fathers and Sons
Adam Smith - Wealth of Nations
Tacitus - Annals
St. Thomas Aquinas - Summa Theologica
Henry David Thoreau - Walden - L
Alexis de Tocqueville - Democracy in America