This answer was originally written by me on quora. It has been republished here for easy access.
What is the right approach to read a topic, lesson or a book?
Step 1. Skimming
First always try to skim through a book before actually reading it. By skimming I mean, see things like index, chapter names and have a brief look at the contents of each chapter, you could also count the number of pages from each chapter.
Once you got an overview about the book, the next time when you actually try to read the book line by line, it will feel much more familiar than before.
Step 2: Reading and Underlining
Also try and keep a pencil by your side while your reading and whenever you feel something is important you could mark it there and then.
Don’t be afraid to make your books a bit dirty.
Underlining and marking key points indicate that you have gone through the topic before and it will be much more easier to pick up from where you left the next time.
Step 3: Revising and Assimilating
Always try to make sure that you properly read the topic thoroughly first time, although you might not understand all the things the author is trying to say, subsequent revisions will further clarify your doubts, so don’t worry.
And when the next time you sit down to read, always make sure you revise what you read the previous day before starting a new topic. While revising always look for the points you might have highlighted or underlined, this will make your revision a lot more faster and helpful.
Bonus Step: Building a Reading habit
All said reading a book can really be hard. So try to make it a habit by fixing the number of hours you are going to give to each topic. This will make sure that you are committed to it and eventually it will help to make the process seem flawless.