Friday, October 7, 2016

Reading a Novel

English 9 Reading/Literary Analysis

Q:           Should I be taking notes while I read?

A:            Yes.

Q:           Should I just write down what happens … like a “book report”?

A:            No. 

Q:           Why?

A:            The best notes are not plot notes.  In theory, taking plot notes could be used to help you remember “what happens” in the novel .  But if you are actively engaged in your reading, that really shouldn’t be necessary.  It’s pretty hard to forget what you’ve read if you are visualizing, looking for indirect characterization details, making inferences, making connections, identifying ambiguities, making predictions, and looking for insights into the human experience. 

Q:           What kind of notes might actually help me, then?

A:            The best notes to take while reading a novel are just like the best notes to take during class: notes that help you to stay focused and actively, intellectually engaged over the course of reading your novel.  Remember: reading a novel requires us to stay engaged with the material over multiple sessions of reading.  A typical novel might take 10-15 hrs. total to complete, but not all at once.  Notes that help keep you going are the best kind of notes. 

Q:           So, if I keep notes on what I am thinking about  while I read, that might help me?

A:            Yes. 

Q:           Can I include lines I liked, characters I found interesting, and scenes I visualized well? 

A:            Yes, please. 

Q:           Should I mention it if I made a connection between the book and something else I have read or seen or experienced? 

A:            Yes!

Q:           Would it help to note my predictions for what might happen, based on things I think might be clues foreshadowing what will happen later?

A:            Definitely!

Q:           If I notice a theme line, or insights into human nature, or a character who seems to be getting at the deeper wisdom of the book, should I make note of that?

A:            Yes, absolutely!! 

Practice Notetaking:

Collect lines you like, details, insights, and observations, connections you are making with the text, predictions about what might happen based on foreshadowing clue, and questions you have.  Don’t overthink this.  This isn’t something you can get right or wrong—it is just meant to help you stay focused over the long-run of reading a serious novel.  Good luck!  -- Mr. G.

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