First, take ten minutes to write a description of yourself as a reader. What do you think about before you begin reading? What do you do as you read? What do you do when you hit a section that's particularly difficult or thought-provoking? What do you do once you've completed reading a piece of writing? Do you usually read something all at once or in stages? Try to be as specific as possible in your description of your reading habits.
Then, answer the following questions. Check the following points you described in your narrative of reading habits. Do you ...
Read carefully, either with or without skimming first?
"Talk back" to what you are reading, noting what does or doesn't make sense, what seems right or wrong?
Ask questions as you read?
Make notes in the margins or on a separate sheet of paper?
Ask yourself why the writer takes the position he or she does?
Think about the writer's perspective - what his or her interests are in writing the piece?
Ask how the context (i.e. social, economic, political) of when and where the piece was written or published may have influenced the piece?
Consider what in your experience or background leads you to agree with or like, or to disagree with or dislike, the piece of writing?
Imagine other ways of looking at the subjects or ideas presented?
Summarize what you've read?
Compare what you're reading with other things you've read on the subject?
Stop and write about what a confusing passage may mean?
Mark sections that apply to your purpose in reading (i.e., to contribute in class, something that might work in a paper, etc.)?
Think of examples that could further support or challenge the author's position?
Adapted from Andrea Lunsford and John Ruszkiewicz, The Presence of Others. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994: 5-6.