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Critical Reading: Photographic Evidence

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

So before we start delving into the “micro and macro” information, I thought I’d share a couple of images of what a critically read book looks like after I’m finished with it:

Here you can see how this can look pretty random—but each note was typed into a summary which I then submitted as part of my reading journal for grad school. (In my defense for the condition of the cover of the book—I purchased it used and it wasn’t in great condition when I received it!)

Here’s what it looks like inside. I know, you’re wondering what the note says . . .
The whole “knowing she’s hurt” thing doesn’t ring true to me. Yes, he’s a pastor, but he’s still a man and he’s shown no clairvoyance into anyone else’s character like that. Better he pull back because he’s a pastor, because he feels (felt) called to stay single, because she’s his boss, because he feels like he doesn’t have anything to offer her.
(I was a little disillusioned with this book by this point.)

This is another book using smaller Post-its. The reason there are two different colors is because I ran out of pink. They’re not color-coded.

And here, you can see where I was taking notes on things I liked in the hero’s character (I chose to analyze this novel because, like my contemporary romance Happy Endings Inc., it has a hidden-identity as part of the plot) as well as breaking down the main storylines and conflicts. Also, notice the difference in my note here about his seeing something locked inside of her—that it works—as opposed to the first example. Part of the analysis process is figuring out why it would work in one book and not another.

  1. Tuesday, November 13, 2007 8:49 am

    Now I definitely know I couldn’t do that on a first read. If I’m enjoying a book, I’d be to into it to stop and write sticky notes. If I was disinterested enough to stop and write sticky notes, I’d have to stop reading the book. I do, however, use sticky notes in my Bible, AND I’m interested, so go figure.


  2. Tuesday, November 13, 2007 9:20 am

    I think you’ve hit upon one of the major factors that plays into becoming a critical reader: mindset. There’s quite a difference in reading to enjoy and reading to learn. That’s not saying that when you’re involved in critical reading you can’t enjoy the story. Just that there’s almost a different level of consciousness while reading. It’s harder to just get lost in the story because you’re also concentrating on the words, the structure, the plot, the character development . . .


  3. Tuesday, November 13, 2007 10:04 am

    Ooohhh…great pictures. In a weird, warped way I’m inspired by them (must be my inner English major geek…LOL). I find that it’s been so long since I’ve HAD to read something critically that I have doubts about my ability to do so anymore (make sense?). I mean I do write as many book/CD reviews as I can, but that’s not the same thing (in my mind, anyway) as writing an essay or something that would be turned into a professor for an actual grade. I think it would be a really good thing for me to start looking at books in CBA really critically (every once in a while at any rate). Not just to review “from my gut” so to speak…but to really look at why I like (or can’t stand, whatever the case may be) a book.


  4. Tuesday, November 13, 2007 10:06 am

    YES!! Mindset! Excellent point. It’s amazing how hard it can be to switch from the reading for enjoyment/escapism mindset to reading to LEARN from a book.


  5. Tuesday, November 13, 2007 7:17 pm

    You are such a good friend. You know how I love the visuals! 🙂

    Do you have a hard time switching between reading critcally and reading for enjoyment?


  6. Tuesday, November 13, 2007 7:19 pm

    Yes–this is why I’ve become much less of a reader than I was years ago. But going outside of my genre/outside of the CBA for this last book I read proved to be very beneficial, as I was able to read and enjoy and not critique, even though he was breaking rules left and right.


  7. Carol Collett permalink
    Tuesday, November 13, 2007 7:36 pm

    The visuals are great. I haven’t read critically in a long time either, Ruth. I can see I’ve got a lot of work to do.


  8. Wednesday, November 14, 2007 1:46 pm

    I’m bad like that too when I’m studying a book. I tend to not have the sticky notes thought and just use a word document where I list the page, my thought and other info.



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