Posted in Literature

Reading Difficult Literature

This semester I have been reading quite a bit of philosophy and older literature.  Usually I struggle through these dense writings which are full of large words, complex sentences, and huge paragraphs.  This year though I am able to read authors such as Seneca, Whitman, Emerson, Aristotle, and other authors with little difficulty it seems.  Yes, there have been those times when I haven’t quite gotten through an assigned reading, but that usually happens because of poor planning.  I want to share a few tips that I feel like are helping me get through the literature that is out of my comfort zone.

1. Take notes.  I used to be a strictly notes in the margin kind of girl, but now I am taking notes in notebooks. It helps me be able to go back after I’m finished and glean out a big idea for the entire piece.  This also helps when I’m in class and looking for a particular quotation.

2. Use page numbers in your notes.  It seems like common sense, but I sometimes forget and then the quotes or summaries of what I read are useless to me when reading a large piece of writing.

3. Break it down. Rather than trying to read it all in one sitting, I am attempting to carry books with me everywhere I might have a chance to read.

4. Outline.  I kinda sorta outline what the author is writing to help get the big picture in my head.

5. Re-read.  Sometimes this is necessary in order to understand.  It’s time consuming but it can be helpful.

6. Watch the movie, read the Sparknotes, Google it.  Sometimes it’s hard to just get into a piece of literature.  Use those resources and find a way to get into the idea.  Don’t use this a crutch to not read it though.


Okay I should stop this list right now and read Walden.  Happy reading!


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