How do I improve my reading comprehension and essay writing skills?

it's really embarrassing to admit this but I'm 25 and I have never read a book finished in my entire life. I don't find enjoyment from books and when it comes to academic books I often find it too hard to understand so I just ignore it.

I dont want to be like this especially with academic writing, I want to be able to fully understand what im reading and be able to write about it... how do I become better at reading and understanding books better. I feel like my English is pretty good but when it comes to reading I literally feel like I'm a dumb person and understand nothing.

10 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    4 weeks ago

    It's both easy and hard.  You have to push through "the wall" when you reach those points where your brain just wants to skip the hard parts.  It's just like sports where you have to reach a certain level before it becomes enjoyable.  That does mean slowing down, thinking through sentences until you understand what the author means, looking up words or unfammilar concepts.  

    I still read academic books with a little notepad to jot down words to look up.  I look them up at the end of sections so as not to disrupt the "flow" too much and then go back if a word turns out to mean something completely different to what I assumed when I came across it.  I would buy a good collegiate dictionary for several reasons.  The first is because the internet is very distracting.  It's all too easy to fall down rabbit holes for three hours when you just wanted to know what "agonic" means.  Because academic fields develop their own jargon they may not use words in the same way.  "Obtain" means something very different in ethnology compared to material studies.  You will waste a lot of time searching the net for more obscure meaning when they're all gathered in the same place in a collegiate dictionary.  Another huge plus is that collegiate dictionaries include information on the etymology of the word.  Soon you will recognize common Latin and Greek parts of words and will be able to understand the root meaning.  That doesn't always mean that you understand the current usage but it's not a bad place to start and helps explain why the word mean what it does now.  (Not that it stops a huge proportion of people sniggering every time a Victorian protagonist "ejaculates loudly.")

    Understanding is the start.  You need to understand before you can argue.  It helps to read a lot of good writing to see how arguments are structured.  I particularly enjoy reading works by the sociologist Richard Sennett for his writing despite often having bones to pick with his arguments.  His books are a masterclass in well structured reasoning with long and short arcs.  There is always a reason for seeming digressions which he ties up beautifully.  

    Breaking through that "wall" is hard work.  You're not stupid any more than someone who's never gone to the gym is disabled.  You've just not built up any stamina yet.  Close reading requires concentration which is tiring.  It also requires being able to zone out distractions.  When I'm in a reading phase I'm hardly online, just for work and that's it, no mindless scrolling, not even here.  After a few days my concentration has markedly improved.  (It makes me wonder what the net is doing to our brains.  If you ever get around to reading Rousseau's "Emile" I'd love a discussion on the subject.)  Just like going to the gym not engaging with concentration atrophies the "brain muscle."

    Finally, learning isn't a linear process.  When you read you take on board all kinds of ideas but it takes a lot longer to metabolize them and truly know what you think, and your undertanding of subjects will change.  Learning is like a bird soaring and weaving.  You will come across things that make you want to go back to things you've read earlier which you'll read with a different slant and get new things from the texts.  Sometimes <gasp> you'll even change your mind about things you were very sure of.  That's the joy of learning.

  • JOHN B
    Lv 6
    4 weeks ago

    A dictionary could help. 

  • 4 weeks ago

    It took me awhile to get into reading too, but what I found that really got me into reading is the right type of book. My favourite genre is kinda silly but its what I like reading and find interesting, basically I would rather read nothing else. Go to your local library or bookstore and spend some time exploring the different genres by reading the first chapter in book like mysteries, horror, romance, sci-fi and see what grabs you. In my opinion, if it doesn't get you by the first chapter then it never will. Once you find what you really like you will never go back, trust me. 

    But for the reading academic book, I'm sorry to say that that will always be hard. They are not the types of books I'm interested in so it's hard for me to get through one and often find myself having to re-read sentences over and over again. My best advice for that is vowing to read the minimal amount you can per night so that you finish it by the due date. Hope this helps!

  • 4 weeks ago

    Read out loud to yourself. The action of seeing the words, processing them through your eyes, brain, mouth and ears reinforces the information in your mind. The same goes for taking notes, adding your hands to the cycle.

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  • Isabel
    Lv 4
    4 weeks ago

    I’m not mocking- I think you should contact your community’s adult literacy center.  They can help you with testing, to see why specifically this is so hard for you, and then they will provide you with resources and personal guidance.  I have a few cousins and friends who received late in life diagnosis for dyslexia and other similar disabilities, and when they had the tools they needed for success, they thrived.

  • Lex
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    I'll post a link to an excellent rubic on essay writing that I think will really help you. But long story short, essay writing is a matter of organizing your ideas and points in a functional way. So you have to figure out what your point actually is! And then you take things through step by step.

    The second thing that I will post is an excellent video on how to read text books. Because a lot of times what makes reading a textbook or academic paper difficult, is not really grasping what they're talking about. And that's not because you're dumb. They just go off on their own language. But this video is really excellent in how to get the most out of your textbook reading.

  • Andrew
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    I don't know what to tell you. You've lived a third of your life and haven't read a single book. The wording of this question is abominable. I'll be honest with you: it's never too late to start, but it's pretty much a guarantee that because you missed out on reading as a youngster, you'll never get to anything that might be considered a normal reading level in terms of comprehension and analysis. What the feck were your parents doing when you were younger? Why didn't they make reading a part of your life? You ought to confront them about it. Go ahead and get started with reading right away, but understand that you're going to be like those 60 year olds who pursue a driving license. Having missed out on 40 years of experience they're entitled to drive, but they'll never be half as good as the next person. 

  • 4 weeks ago

    You should read one of those self-help books that teaches you how to improve your reading comprehension and essay writing skills. Of course in order to fully understand it you'll have to read one of those self-help books that teaches you how to improve your reading comprehension skills. You know, I just can't see any way out of this. Sorry. There's nothing we can do.

  • A
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    Find a topic that really interests you, it will be fun to read about something you like.  Is there a time in history that you want to know about?  Is there any historical sites in your town that you could research?    Think about books on local history,  landscaping, fishing, what ever your interest is.  Magazines are a good way to start as the articles are short.

  • Don't feel bad. I mean I'm a good writer (typer), since I can't see I just type everything on the computer and I used to not be good but I've gotten so much better, but reading I have problems with comprehention as well. I mean I can comprehend some things, but other things like numbers and when this happened and what time it's hard for me to comprehend. I do read the bible every day and even though it's hard to comprehend some of it, that's important to me, but other books I have to be interested in it in order to want to read it and comprehend it. I'm embarrassed to say this, but I'm 33 years old and I'm like this. 

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