1. Nobelgia

    Nobelgia New Member

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    Can you practice "active reading" with digital books?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Nobelgia, May 24, 2019.

    Active reading (in contrast to passive reading) is when the reader fully engages, and learns from any text at hand in a book. The reader may mark up the book with meaningful symbols, make notes between the margin, highlight words, underline good dialogue examples or intriguing sentence structures, analyze use of story structure, leave commentary on things that they enjoyed in how an author phrased one thing or another---and so forth and so on. Essentially, they are "studying" the book as they read it, instead of just mindlessly consuming it, and moving on to the next gratifying story.

    I desperately want to do this with various books, especially fictional ones--in order to intimately inspect certain writing traits from my favorite writers. My question is, is it possible to practice active reading with digital books (such as in PDF or eBook form, or heck, even online stories)?

    You can't "markup" a digital book the same you would do a physical one (i.e with a pen and highlighter). In that case, what should I do--or are there any methods or programs I should be using to assist in achieving this?
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    If you have a PDF and an iPad with an Apple Pen you can mark it up exactly the same way you’d mark up a physical book. If you’re using a Kindle you can comment, highlight, etc. but you’re right that it’s not the same as with a pen.
     
  3. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Contributor

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    You can actively read with anything you encounter, be it an online news article or an advertisement you encounter at the train station. No one prevents you to think about what you read, while you read. If you need to make notes, you can do it in e.g. a physical notebook. But the most important feature of 'active reading' is thinking about what you read, and that you can do with anything, anywhere.

    For my own research (active reading in your parlance) I prefer physical books as well, but sometimes they are only digitally accessible. I default to just marking the general page (in Kindle you can mark two 'pages' with one mark) and taking typed notes in a txt document which is open in a separate window.
     
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  4. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'd say not. I have a Kindle, and I use it all the time for simply reading. Yes, it has a highlight feature, yes it has a bookmark feature and yes you can make notes. But trying to find these spots again, especially if you have made many highlights, bookmarks and notes, is not for the fainthearted. A printed book is MUCH easier in this regard.

    However, when it comes to simply reading for pleasure, I'm a huge fan of the Kindle. Just not for 'study' purposes.

    If you were doing a few things, marking a few places or highlighting something that needs attention, I'd recommend bookmarking the location AND taking a written note (on a piece of paper) of the location number and a brief note of why you have bookmarked that particular location. At least then you could find the location again fairly easily.
     
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  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil is the way to go. We're trying to move more toward a paperless workplace in our offices and that's what we use. Works very well, but they're not cheap.
     
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  6. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've not used one of them. Sounds interesting.
     
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  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I’ll get a PDF, Word, or other document on my iPad. I can open it up and write on it just like I would with pen and paper, then send my marked up version back to whoever sent the document.
     
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  8. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's incredibly useful. If I had an iPad, I'd give it a go.

    The only possible downside (and I'm not sure how this works) is that it might not be easy to jump around to find what you've written in a large document (like a novel MS.) If you know you've scribbled something in the middle of a 40-page section and can't remember exactly where, for example. I suppose it would be easy enough if you marked the location beforehand, but not if you needed to reference it later on, and you hadn't marked the location.

    As a beta reader, I already do editing and feedback (in a red font) on my computer. I find it difficult to locate the bits again if I need to. Whereas, with a paper that's scribbled on, it's easy.

    If the technology exists to duplicate that thumbing-through paper flipping thing, I'd be a big fan.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
  9. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    Google books creates an index of everything you've highlighted and/or put notes on. Makes finding stuff very easy and has a function that lets you search for relevant material online.

    However, my question for this is, if, while reading a book, I write in a notepad instead of directly on the page, is it still active reading? If not, then what about it being on the same page changes the content or process behind it? If it is active reading, then how is it any different from having a word document open that you take notes with.
     
  10. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Yes, you've hit on the main drawback of the iPad or other device, which is that flipping back and forth through a document is slower and more tedious than with paper. Bookmarking the pages ahead of time helps with this but doesn't solve the problem completely.
     
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  11. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Slipping away across the universe Contributor

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    i do it all the time for class. If its a PDF i highlight and use Notes. If its a PDF that cant be highlighted, i go to the edit tool and insert lines and underline passages, then click the "TEXT" tool to type in marginal notes.

    I dont underline or highlight much in fiction books that i'm just reading leisurely (side note: i hate reading Kindle books and certain passages will be underlined with a note saying "X amount of readers highlighted this passage" or something like that. Its just as bad as reading a library book and seeing marginal notes and highlights). If I have to write a paper on it, I prefer physical copies of the books so I can flip back and forth pretty easily, but I do have Kindle textbooks that are highlighted.
     
  12. Nobelgia

    Nobelgia New Member

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    Interesting suggestion. I was unsure if I should invest in a Kindle or iPad, but I am leaning more towards iPad.
     
  13. Nobelgia

    Nobelgia New Member

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    Okay that makes sense. I'll try experimenting with taking notes in Notepad or otherwise side by side with the book if I'm reading on the computer. Thank you for your input. And you're right--nothing can beat physical books.
     
  14. Nobelgia

    Nobelgia New Member

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    Yes, that does sound practical. I was concerned about losing my "places" with digital marking, but this seems to be a good idea.
     
  15. Nobelgia

    Nobelgia New Member

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    Appreciate your input, thank you.
     
  16. Nobelgia

    Nobelgia New Member

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    Sounds about right. With books, you can press the pages together and speedily flip through them in a matter of seconds--all the while scanning for the right page with your eyes. That always beats swiping past each page on digital, one by one---or scrolling through the thumbnail index to find the right page number.
     
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  17. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I don’t really agree that reading without marking up the page is “mindless”. Sure, I understand that you want to be able to mark up, and that’s fine. I just can’t help quibbling.
     
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  18. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I’m not convinced any reading is mindless. May be a poor choice of words.
     
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  19. Nobelgia

    Nobelgia New Member

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    You're not the first to bring it up. Wish I could edit my post, since that is nowhere near what I intended to convey. Poor choice of wording indeed.
     
  20. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    you will be able to edit posts* once you are no longer a new member - in the mean time if you'd like to post what you want in the first post to clarify below i will edit it for you

    (*you own posts i mean - only moderators can edit other peoples)
     
  21. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    No worries. Maybe you meant something more along the lines of analytical v. non-analytical reading? Maybe that's not even the best wording for it. I know some books I read purely for light entertainment, and I'm willing to go along for the ride without over-thinking things too much so long as the author doesn't screw something up so badly that I can't ignore it. Other books I read with more purpose and analysis. Sometimes I may read the same book more than once, first with more or less analysis and then the opposite.
     
  22. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Absolutely. Probably about ⅔ of the research I did in uni used digital papers. If I didn't print them off, what I used to do was copy-paste relevant passages to a separate word doc. Made quoting long passages way easier than with physical books.
     
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