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?

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.

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