Thursday, September 26, 2013



A good book is one of life's great pleasures. Whether you are reading fiction or nonfiction, the following suggestions will help you learn how to get the most out of your experience.

Step One: Choose a book. There are many resources to help you pick a book you'll like.
Go to the library. Your local library is a good place to browse books and you won't have to pay anything to read the book -- sort of "try it before you buy it" idea. Many library systems allow you to electronically reserve a copy of a book you want in advance, and then notify you when the book is available so you can come check it out.

Ask those around you. Good friends and close relatives may be able to recommend books to you based on what they enjoyed and thought you would also enjoy.

Check online. The Internet is filled with book lovers who are more than happy to share their opinions about various titles. Find a community that discusses books and search for the subjects you like, or just visit online retail sites and browse user reviews of books that look good.

Go to public readings and bookfairs.  Fiction readings happen regularly at many independent bookstores and book fairs. Nonfiction writers can sometimes be found giving readings or free guest lectures at nearby colleges.

Step Two: Acquire the book you want to read. There are a few different ways to accomplish this:
Buy the book. Visit a bookstore or newsstand and purchase your own copy to keep for as long as you like. The advantage of this is that with a little work, you can usually find even the hottest books and read them right away. The downside is that you have to pay money to buy the book. Be aware that if you're trying to read a very popular book, you may end up weeks or months down the waiting list for a copy.

Borrow the book. Friends and relatives who recommend a book to you will often have their own copy and be glad to led it to you for as long as it takes you to finish.  Be sure to take good care of books you have been loaned, and read them in a timely fashion so you don't forget about them and leave them gathering dust on a shelf for the next year.

Electronically purchase the book. With the advent of portable e-readers and smartphones over the last several years, electronically published editions of print books are becoming more and more common.  The cost of purchasing a virtual book is often slightly less than the cost of purchasing a physical copy, so if you have a reader already, you might save a little cash.  Like a paper-and-ink book, an electronic book is yours to keep once you've paid for it.

Step Three: Read your book. Find a comfortable place to sit.  Make sure there's plenty of light. Start at the beginning and read each page in order until the book is finished. If there is any end material, wait until you have finished the rest of the book before reading it.

Decide whether or not to read the front material. Front material is the writing at the front of the book that isn't the first chapter of the book. It comes in four basic flavors, and each type serves a different purpose. You can decide on your own whether or not you want to read any given section of front material.
The four types of front material are:

Acknowledgments: A brief section that lists people who helped the author in some way during the writing process. You can read acknowledgments if you like, but most people don't bother. Acknowledgments also commonly appear at the very end of the book.

Foreword: The foreword is written by a different author than the person who wrote the book, so it is usually only seen in later editions of a book that has made some sort of impact in the past, such as an award-winning novel or an important scientific work. The foreword talks a bit about what to expect from the book, and why it is worth reading.

Preface: The preface is written by the author of the book. It is usually (but not always) shorter than the foreword, and is basically an essay that explains how and why the book was written. If you're interested in the author's personal life or creative process, the preface can give you some valuable insight.

Introduction: The introduction is the place where the author speaks directly to the reader and introduces the book, reviewing what its intent is and building excitement in the reader about getting to read it. Introductions are more often found in nonfiction books than fiction books.

Decide whether or not you want to read the end material. End material is other writing, typically by different authors, that appear after the main book has ended.  End material is typically comprised of essays or editorials on the book itself, and is not commonly seen outside of academic “study editions” of certain very famous books, such as John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. As with most front material, all end material is totally optional.

Step 4: Pace yourself. Reading a really good book is an absorbing experience that makes time fly by. Have a bookmark ready and be sure that you don't spend too long reading in one sitting. This will allow you to enjoy the book longer and prevent you from missing deadlines or shirking other responsibilities because you were lost in your book.
Other Ideas:

Although it's more a case of being read to than reading a book yourself, audiobooks can be a good choice for certain situations. Audiobooks are professional book readings recorded for use with music players. They can be a wonderful alternative to reading a book if you want to enjoy a story while doing other things.

If it is a book you very enjoyed like mystery/suspense, or magic and mystery or fantasy or trilogy or realistic fiction relax, close your eyes and imagine you are within the story, see the scene in your mind.

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