I love reading. Being so ubiquitous, we take it for granted how useful it is. For English, all we need is less than 40 distinct written symbols for us to convey practically every thought imaginable. We can express our thoughts and feelings, communicate events, describe how our world works just with abstract symbols. Even with all stuff mankind has created, the written language is still one of its top inventions; without it most other great inventions aren't possible.All this shit should be obvious to anyone reading it, but it's worth repeating. Reading is fundamental to any sort of higher learning regardless of topic.
Immersion into a different world of thoughts and experiences is how I look at reading. Regardless whether the material is a novel, news, a discussion of economics, computer code, text messages, or a facebook post, writing allows you to understand a person's thoughts and insights. Over enough words, you will start to understand not just thoughts but the thought processes that create the words in the first place.
That's where the learning happens. Deeply engrossed in reading, temporarily disassociated with what's going on around you, you're able to not only read and understand the words but also imagine what is being read. Being able to visualize what I'm reading is strong indicator that I'm learning something or at least the information is compelling. If that isn't happening, either the information isn't interesting or there's something I'm missing. That's a important detail I try to remind myself, especially when I'm wanting to understand something. Sometimes that takes discipline and focus, but that is the essence of understanding practically anything when it comes to reading. Although, Quantum Mechanics still throws me for loop when I try to fully understand it.