When you need to research and write papers, highly likely you will need to extract information from some hard-to-read books. After starting to read the first couple of sentences, you may stop and decide to skim through it quickly. After a while, you increase your skimming speed, but you still can’t get its contents. Virginia Tech has a quick self-help information on How to Read a Difficult Book, this gives you some idea on how you should tackle this type of reading:

  • Look at the title page and preface and note especially the sub-titles or other indications of the scope and aim of the book or the author’s special angle.
  • Study the table of contents to get a general sense of the book’s structure; use it as you would a road map before taking a trip.
  • Check the index for the range of subjects covered or the kinds of authors quoted. When you see terms listed that seem crucial, look up the passage. You may find the key to the author’s approach.

How to Read a Difficult Book – [Virginia Tech]

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