Start from the scratch:
You should pick your book wisely. Begin with something short and easy as you won’t be able to focus if that piece of literature is lengthy and difficult. However, if you are reading classic English literature then you will have to be persistent to understand the deep meaning of that masterpiece.
Avoid finishing in one sitting:
A common mistake that people make is to read every piece of literature like regular fiction. No one can understand literature especially English literature by just going over dialogues, sentences or verses. Have short breaks while reading will help you to stay alert and notice important things.
Another effective method to understand English literature is to write down your thoughts while reading and then review them at the end of the session. You will notice that you are not only understanding but also enjoying the reading process.
You must pay full attention to that piece of literature as lack of concentration will result in the inability to understand the actual meaning of the content. Choose a corner where no one is disturbing you. The best way to eliminate all distractions is to study in your bedroom at night or in the library if you are in some educational institute.
Read about that era:
You should know the time when it was written as this will really help you to understand the background reasons of all the actions and statements. Similarly, read about the author and his/her contemporaries to understand the general mind set of that era.
Decode multiple themes:
Sometimes literary work contains more than one theme so you should try to outline these themes. This exercise will be beneficial in understanding the character of a novel, drama or a short story.
Prepare questions while you are reading and then find answers within the original text.