From Smart to Wise- How to Read For Wisdom

By: Eszter C.

No. Even though he read books on lighting, camera settings, and post-editing, he doesn’t have the required experience to become a photographer. But one doesn’t have to become a photographer to understand a photographer’s style, technique, or art.

The highest level of reading a reader can engage in is called syntopical reading. It requires the individual to compare and contrast the ideas of multiple books on the same subject. This type of reading challenges the reader to think critically, take extensive notes, and block out time large chunks of time. This intricate process of reading converts knowledge and information into intellect. Here is how you can do that:

  1. Pre-read the book and determine which passages provide a broad understanding of the subject. Not all chapters and pages will be worth your time analyzing. Filtering out relevant information and selecting high-quality books means the value of your thoughts also increases. Skimming over the chapters, reading reviews, and researching the author are good ways to sift out the bad material.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the subject language. Determine what words, phrases, and styles the field uses. Take the time to understand the terminology so you can truly take the perspective of experts in the subject.
  3. Reflect on what you are hoping to gain from this book. Write down a series of questions you are looking to find answers to in the text. What information would be most useful to you? As you read, revisit the list to add new questions, answer previous ones, and look for gaps of information.
  4. Analyze the answers and conclusions. Look to see if there is a pattern among the key ideas. Pick out broader generalizations and deconstruct them. What are the specific details that make up this generalization? Can it be applied elsewhere? How do multiple authors interpret these ideas? The more you reflect and analyze, the more you will understand. Lastly, share your conclusions. From a simple tweet to a thorough book, sharing your conclusions invites feedback and new perspectives. Analyze and observe what people resonate with and engage with the most. Engagement is a signal for insight, clarity, and popularity of an idea.

Passive reading is beneficial when one wants to apprehend general facts and gain an introduction to a field. When an individual is reading passively, she is known to be “smart” because of her ability to recall facts and details with accuracy. However, she is known to be wise when she can form her thoughts, opinions, and ideas. This is achieved through syntopical reading. Syntopical reading requires the reader to reflect, think, and question beliefs. It is how one becomes wise and thoughtful. It is the process of converting plain information to intellect.

Reference: 4 Ways to Read a Book, How to Learn Anything!

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