A week or two ago Sylvia mentioned Nick Senger’s free e-book ROMAN Reading: 5 Practical Skill for Transforming Life Through Literature. If you’ve spent any time here you know I love books about books and reading. Plus this one, Sylvia said, made mention of her. So I immediately went and downloaded a copy for myself. Last night I read it. And enjoyed it.

It’s short and, have no fear, easy to read on a computer screen. Senger, or can we call him Nick since he’s also a blogger? Nick, is an award-winning Catholic schoolteacher and developed the ROMAN reading idea to help his students become better readers. He readily admits the concepts aren’t new, but he presents them in such a nice, neat, easy to understand way sprinkled with quotes about reading and lots of encouragement, that they are not in the least intimidating.

Nick talks about books being neighbors and a personal library being like a neighborhood and asks, “What kind of neighborhood are you living in?” For some reason this tickles my funny bone as I imagine myself strolling through my “neighborhood.” It’s rather diverse with mixed income housing, multiple generations and representatives from lots of different countries. Mine is a friendly neighborhood where everyone gets along in spite of us all being rather crammed together.

But onward, to how to be a better reader. Easy, read. The more you read the better you get at it. And I think this is true. To think you don’t have enough time to read or aren’t smart enough to read, especially “great” books, is a myth. There’s plenty of time if you turn off the TV or the computer. And remember, A lot of the greats like Dickens or Dostoyevsky wrote for a common audience, not an intellectual elite.

What does ROMAN mean?

Read the book
Outline the book
Mark the pages
Ask the right questions
Name your experiences

Nick explains each one in detail. I particularly liked the section on marking up a book. I like writing in my books but I always feel bad about doing it, like I am ruining the book. Maybe it’s from years of being told by teachers in grade school that writing in books was bad. But I am slowly curing myself of the fear and learning to enjoy marking in my books more and more often. I find when I do I notice so much more, retain more, and enjoy the book more because I am usually more engaged with my reading.

Naming my experience, the last step, has evolved into blogging and I must say, I have better recall of the books I’ve blogged about these last three and a half years than the books that came before (except ones I studied in college). It really has added to my reading experience and pleasure.

Nick has an appendix that lists “great” books to help new readers get started and for experienced readers to find something new to read. He also lists websites and blogs and this one turns out mine is on the list. What a happy surprise!

As I mentioned before, ROMAN Reading is a simple, easy book. It’s great for new readers and readers who want to become better readers but may be intimidated by “literature.” It’s also good for experienced readers, a pleasant reminder to not be lazy. Oh, yeah, and it’s free!