Monday, August 17, 2009

Small speed-reading update.

All of a sudden, I got very busy. University starts extremely early here, two weeks before the summer term ends in Sweden, so I'm doubly busy. I haven't stopped with my speed-reading though, I'm just not able to do as much of it as I used to. The exercises have become different now, they focus on visual reading at over 1600 words per minute and progress is not as easy to measure anymore. On average, when making an effort I think I read at somewhere between 800 to 900 words per minute. Every time I feel like I am reading extremely slowly, I end up at over 700 words per minute anyway. I'm guessing this is good. I can't really practice read a whole lot right now though since I am reading philosophy and other more difficult texts that need to be read more slowly. I am hoping to get some time over for my speed-reading soon -_-

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Russian audio books.

I wrote in one of my HTLAL logs that I didn't know what Russian audio book to listen to after I finish Anna Karenina, but now I realize that it is perhaps a better idea to write about it here since more Russians probably read this blog. I will just copy what I wrote in the log.

What I am mostly thinking about right now is what book I will listen to after this one. I would really like to listen to a book that I can become passionate about. Can anyone recommend any classic in particular? Classics are so much easier to understand so I would prefer that when it comes to audio books.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Things to keep in mind.

From reading the speed reading books, I have picked up a couple of techniques that are so to say universal. These things are not about technically reading faster, for those things you have to look up these books yourselves, but rather things to facilitate your reading and recollection in general. One important thing to keep in mind - and something I often forget - is that you have to develop the two skills of reading fast and remembering what you read separately. I'm no expert yet, but I intend to apply these ideas in the future.

1. Always ask yourself why you are going to read something, what your purpose of reading is. Is it important to remember something? Are you looking for something in particular? (In that case, formulate a question that should keep in mind while reading.) Are you just reading to pass time?

2. Always browse through your material before starting to read it. Look at every page for four seconds, noting the different chapters and so on. This is not something I would do for fiction :-) And, it is way easier to do for separate chapters. I guess you could say you that you are preparing your mind for what you are going to read.

3. When you have read something, always take a couple of seconds to think back on the chapter, article or whatever it was, noting in your minds or on a piece of paper what it was about - without looking back! This is intended to improve your memory.

4. When taking notes, don't write blocks of text or lists; make mind maps. Try to avoid using full sentences and avoid using the words of the author. One good mind map pattern is a treelike structure. Draw a horizontal line on a piece of paper and write the topic of whatever you just read on this line. Draw branches coming out from this line for every main thought and smaller branches coming out from the main branches on which you add information. Always write from memory, don't copy from the book.

I think these were the main points but I have a feeling I've left something out...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Unfortunate encounters with Swedish literature.

For my speed reading experiment I finally got the opportunity to read some Swedish fiction. I actually never read any Swedish books anymore, I simply don't have the time what with keeping up with French, Russian and English literature. I was therefore very happy to finally pick up a Swedish book! I really don't think native speakers have any right to neglect their own language; I am not good at Swedish simply because I am Swedish, I should also work on my Swedish skills.

However, the two Swedish books that I have read in the last year have both disappointed me greatly. I must therefore un-recommend them. The first one was a book my mother gave me, a very new book from 2008 (and I'm really no good at all at modern literature, I'm too preoccupied with classics): Myrrha by Ulrika Kärnborg. It should really be a good, intriguing read, the story being that of a simple woman and her relationship with a Victorian gentleman, of her absolute love for dirty work (the dirtiest possible) and his love for women doing dirty work. Yes. And this is based on true events. I was greatly disappointed because this book bored me more than anything else, except for a couple of pages somewhere in the beginning.

The other book that I read, the one I have been using for my speed-reading experiment, is Livläkarens besök by Per Olov Enquist. It is also a historic novel treating the subject of Christian the seventh, the mentally ill 18th-century Danish king, his English wife and his doctor, the latter two of course having an affair while the said doctor tries to reform Denmark. It's also based on true events, but I really know nothing of them, just like I know practically nothing about Danish history. However, this book was written in far too pretentious Swedish and with too little elegance. I didn't like it.

Now however, I have decided to finally read a book that I bought in the metropole Glommersträsk quite a couple of years ago for a euro or less. The first time I encountered this story was in junior high school when I saw a play based on it. It was amazing, just one guy on a scene with no props, telling the story of how he ended up on death row, and all the 15 year olds were mesmerized. The book is Cell 2455 Death Row by Caryl Chessman. When I saw the book in the depths of Northern Sweden I immediately bought it, but since it has been collecting dust in various bookshelves. I started reading it yesterday and read a hundred pages before going to bed (I read it in bed however, and according to the author of the speed- reading book you read slower in bed), and another 60 pages today while doing exercises. This is an excellent book for an easy read, and on top of that they Swedish is rather lively and interesting (modern day literary Swedish is mostly just weird) - it's a translation from 1954. For a learner of Swedish, the dialogue would be hell, spoken Swedish from the 50s :-) I am however very happy with the book so far and look forward to continue working with it. The story is rather excellent, I really recommend it.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Russian podcast.

This is a short podcast in Russian, my first one. It's full of mistakes and mispronunciations, but I hope it's understandable.

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