I can read the thickest, driest, tech-based computer book/site forever and love it. However, give me most anything else, and I have to fight to stay awake. Fiction is the worst for me. In fact, I’ve never read fiction that I wasn’t forced to. I tried a few times, but never made it more than a chapter or two into them.
In college history classes, I’d estimate 85% of what I learned was from the instructor’s mouth, or from the recitation of a peer. I almost always bombed quizzes because I just couldn’t focus on that stuff, but I’d ace tests after talking to people who could read/retain it. Oddly enough, I tended to find the topics quite interesting, I just really didn’t like reading about them.
I find when I don’t jump into the content, my mind wanders a lot. I’ll be 10 paragraphs into a page when I snap out of my daydream and realize that I have no idea what I just read, despite the fact that I was actually reading the words. Very odd. Anyone else do this sort of thing?
I have no issues with fiction, but things like journal articles are the worst. As I mentioned previously, I have to reread articles just to make sense of them. The first (several) times I read a paper my eyes almost literally cross as I try to digest it. One thing that seems to help me, though, is to analyze the paper as if I’m going to have to explain it to others. This forces me to start making connections and to place the work in the appropriate context. Also, some journals are worse than others. For instance, a PRL paper is so short that the authors end up writing in a very terse and dense style that is just rather difficult to read, much less understand.
>>I’ll be 10 paragraphs into a page when I snap out of my daydream and realize that I have no idea what I just read, despite the fact that I was actually reading the words.
I’ve found that I do this once in a while. It’s definitely time to stop reading when this happens. I have always been a good reader, and I wonder if this is what enables me to go on "autopilot" so easily. I’ve also wondered if somewhere in our brains, the content of what was read without attention is actually stored somewhere anyway. That would be kind of cool; if we were somehow able to figure out how to retrieve it later. It reminds me of what sometimes happens when driving a familiar route, (home to work or vice versa) and I get there and realize I don’t remember the trip or much of anything about it whatsoever.
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