Whether I'm reading a novel or a reference book, there are only four ways that I go about the simple act of reading. Sometimes I only use one method, sometimes I use all four (or even a combination of any given number of the four methods). Here they are:
  1. Wide style reading. That means "taking it all in." In my mind, I have the entire context of the book or journal or magazine I am reading. This context affects the specific words that I am perceiving.
  2. Focused concentration. When I am using the "focused concentration" method, only the words I am reading are being perceived by the language centers in my brain. No context is associated with what I am reading.
  3. Concentrated reading. This is simply reading as one would normally do; no distractions will interfere with the assimilation of the written material.
  4. Imaginative. When I read using the "imaginative" style, I am picturing and imagining the structure of what I'm seeing. For example, if I'm reading about a happy story, I'll try to imagine what about the story is so joyful.
Some examples of #1 ("Wide Style Reading") may be reading a book on history. The past may affect the future. Focused concentration may be used if learning a mathematical formula. If I'm trying to learn a math formula like the calculation of the distance between two points, I don't really care about what year in history this formula was developed. Method number 3 ("concentrated reading") is often used when I am trying to learn a skill, e.g. how to program a software code, or how to compute a function. And, finally, method 4 is the most enjoyable. I use that when I'm reading a novel or a literary work. It is fun to imagine and picture what I'm reading about. On occasion I will combine "wide style" with "concentrated reading." On other occasions I will imaginatively be concentrating in a focused way. Get the idea? Interestingly, almost every time I concentrate on a project or a point of focus, I learn something regardless of whether I use any of the methods I've mentioned. That, alone, reinforces how I feel about concentrating.