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10 thoughts on “How to Read a Book

  1. says:

    How do you read a book?Look at the cover probably glance at the blurb; run your eye down the table of contents perhaps; possibly rifle through the book then plunge right in into Chapter OneRight?Wrong According to Mortimer J Adler and Charles Van Doren the authors of How to Read a BookAccording to them this is only the first level of reading called “Elementary” reading and this is the only level the majority of readers in this world have reached They posit three levels “Inspectional” “Analytical” and “Syntopic” each one advanced than the previous The major portion of the book is devoted to analytic reading followed by brief exposition on the syntopic It is the aim of the authors to make each reader of this tome into an analytic reader at least if not a syntopic one it is my opinion that they only succeed partially but let’s go into that after analysing each of the levels as defined by the authorsElementary reading we have already seen In inspectional reading you first skim the book as a whole; give it a “once over” as it is The authors ever practical suggest six steps to do this – most of them self evident and what any serious reader usually does with an expository book this book is mostly about reading expository material and of limited value in reading literature and poetry but about that later The steps are1 Read the title and the preface2 Study the table of contents3 Check the index4 Read the blurb5 Look at the main chapters6 Skim the book reading it here and thereNext read the book through fast without getting stuck at the difficult places If the book deserves our serious attention we can come back to those difficult places in our next reading The advantage of this “rapid fire” approach is that we do not waste time on a book which deserves only a superficial reading In the authors’ own words “Every book should be read no slowly than it deserves and no uickly than you can read it with satisfaction and comprehension”Analytical ReadingThe next level analytical reading reuires the reader to be demanding the you demand the you can extract out of a book To do this one has to ask four uestions1 What is the book about as a whole?2 What is being said in detail and how?3 Is the book true in whole or part?4 What of it?How ask these four uestions is explained in detail in the remaining part of the bookAnalytical reading has three stages The first one is mainly concerned with classifying the book and understanding its aim and structure To do this the authors suggest four rules1 You must know what kind of book you are reading and you should know as early in the process as possible preferably before you begin to read2 State the unity of the whole book in a single sentence or at most a few sentences a short paragraph3 Set forth the major parts of the book and show how these are organised into a whole by being ordered to one another and to the unity of the whole4 Find out what the author’s problems wereThe first rule classifies “pigeonholes” the book by affixing it to a category genre etc the second is used to create a précis the third expands the précis into an outline thus revealing the underlying structure “X Raying” the book as the authors name it and the fourth defines the purpose of the book The author presumably wrote it for a reason he had some uestions at the beginning which he has presumably tried to answer through the book The reader has to find out what these uestions areIf the first stage of analytical reading is related to the what the second is related to the how ; how has the author attempted to solve the problem with which he started out For this stage also Adler and Van Doren proposes four rules1 Come to terms with the author by interpreting his key words2 Grasp the author’s leading propositions by dealing with his most important sentences 3 Know the author’s arguments by finding them in or constructing them out of seuences of sentences4 Determine which of his problems the author has solved and which he has not and as to the latter decide which the author knew he had failed to solveThe argument here that any author putting forth an argument will use certain key words and terms for example “natural selection” and “evolution” by Darwin in The Origin of Species It is the reader’s duty to come to terms with the author so that he does not misinterpret the author’s intentions by misreading the terms Then on it is an exercise in logic by understanding the propositions and arguments This is not as difficult as it looks in fact we do it all the time even though the exact logical terms may be unfamiliar to us A proposition is nothing but the meaning contained within a declarative sentence and arguments what the author uses to prove the truth of the propositionThe fourth step is a little difficult for the lay reader and it will only come through practice One needs to find out which of the problems presented the author had been able to solve and if he had been unable to solve some whether he knew he had failed or not At this point of time it is not important whether the reader agrees with the author That comes later Here we are talking about the author’s own internal logic and how far he has been able to present his arguments consistently in light of it and how far he has been in successfully concluding his argumentsIn the third stage of analytical reading the reader for the first time starts to apply his critical senses and begins to agree or disagree with the author Here according to the authors of the current book the reader has to follow certain etiuette captured in the following three rules1 Do not begin criticism until one has completed the outline first stage and interpretation second stage Then one can agree disagree or suspend judgement2 Do not disagree disputatiously or contentiously Or in plain words unless one can present factual evidence acceptable at least to oneself disagreement with an author based on emotional prejudice should be avoided easier said than done3 Demonstrate that one knows the difference between knowledge and mere personal opinion by presenting good reasons for any critical judgement one makesThe authors also provide special criteria for criticism 1 show where the author is uninformed 2 show where he is misinformed 3 show where his illogical and 4 show where his analysis is incompleteSyntopic ReadingThis is the fourth and most advanced level of reading according to Adler and Van Doren – though I’d perhaps disagree Here the reader is engaged in researching books about one basic idea For example if you want to read up on say evolution you must first understand what the significant books are on the subject then you must proceed to read them and summarise the arguments both pro and con preferably remaining objective throughout Phew Not a very easy taskDon’t worry the authors give step by step instructions for this level also First create a bibliography of the subject and inspect all of the books to ascertain which are the relevant ones then do the following1 Do inspectional reading of the selected book to choose the passages which are most relevant to the subject at hand; 2 Establish a neutral terminology which is applicable to all the authors so that all of them can be brought to the same terms;3 Establish a set of neutral propositions by framing a set of uestions which all the authors can be seen as answering;4 Range the answers on both sides of the issue The issue may not always explicitly exist and may have to be constructed by interpretation of the authors’ views for example in the case of evolutionary theory “Intelligent Design” is a form of creationism even though the trappings of evolutionary theory are used;5 Analyse the discussion by ordering the issues to throw maximum light on the subjectThe authors stress the need for dialectical objectivity throughout; that is the reader is only expected to arrange and present the arguments so as to present an ordered discussion without taking sides So the aim of syntopical reading is to “clear away the deadwood and prepare the way for an original thinker to make a breakthrough”Whoever has read through this review so far would be asking himherself “But that’s applicable to expository books where the main aim is the dissemination of information? What about fiction? What about poetry? What about drama?” Well the authors extend their methodology to all kinds of books but according to me it falls flat All said and done the methodology works only for expository works And that is its main problemThis book is not about literary theory or criticism nor is it about literature appreciation It is a self help book on the lines of those on time management attending interviews etc It outlines a methodology the diligent following of which will guarantee results according to its authors It well may for the major part of the book devoted to analytical reading gave me some insights on how to tackle books on difficult subjects like philosophy and political theory the two stars are for that But the book is extremely boring and the authors’ insistence on applying their favourite methodology to all sorts of books was stretching things a bit over it takes all the fun out of reading And syntopic reading may make sense to an undergraduate preparing a dissertation but is of little use to anybody elseIf anyone wants to read this book I would recommend an inspectional reading concentrating mainly on the methodology of analytical reading only The other parts are not worth the time spent on itI purchased a copy but the book seems to be available free on the net no idea about copyright issues so go ahead and try it if you want Statutory warning boredom ahead


  2. says:

    Probably one of the most important books you can read I outlined the first three levels of reading a while back and I saved it I'll post that for my reviewHow To Read A BookThis is an outline of part of Mortimer J Adler and Charles Van Doren’s excellent book How To Read A Book The outline takes one up to the third level of reading analytical reading There is a fourth level syntopical reading but most of the intended readers of this outline and your every day reader does not read syntopically Further mastering levels 1 3 will improve what you get out of your reading 10 fold It is sufficient to make you a very proficient reader Also syntopical reading is for many books analytical reading is for one book So technically the title of this post implies an an analytic outline A syntopical outline would be titled “How To Read Book s” For these reasons I have only focused on levels 1 3 I hope the below outline will provide you with some practical knowledge of how to read well not necessarily be well read I also would obviously recommend purchasing Adler and Van Doren's book How To Read A Book for your own libraryI Be a demanding reader Reading if you’re going to learn anything or gain enlightenment must be active The active the reader is the betterA You can be active by paying attention and focusingB By taking notes highlighting key points and arguments asking uestions of the author etcC Following rules for reading and making the following of these rules habitualD The demanding reader should be asking these 4 uestions of the book1 What is the book about as a whole? This should be stated succinctly2 What is being said in detail and how? You should know the main assertions and arguments which constitute the author’s message3 Is the book true in whole or in part? Once you have understood the book you are obligated to make a judgment regarding it Make up your own mind4 What of it? 4 is asking things like a How should I then live in light of what I’ve learned? b What should I do with this knowledge?II The first level of reading is the reading at the basic or elementary school levelIII The second level of reading is called “inspectional reading” This comes in two partsA Systematic skimming or pre reading1 This is achieved by reading the title table of contents preface editors note introduction back flap etc2 Reading the index to see the major themes topics ideas and terms the author will be discussing3 Reading through the book by reading the first couple of pages or so the last couple of pages or so and then flipping through the book dipping in here and thereB Superficial reading is the second part of inspectional reading To achieve this you must read through the entire book at a fast pace and without stopping to think about terms you’re unfamiliar with ideas you don’t immediately grasp and points which are footnoted for further inspection Doing both A and B will prepare you to read the book through for the second time; the analytical stageIV The third stage of reading is called “analytical reading” There are three stages made up of various rules of analytical readingA Stage one Rules for finding out what the book is about1 Classify the book according to kind and subject matter This is also referred to as pigeonholing a booka Is it a poem play epic work of philosophy or theology history science etcb Is it theoretical or practicali A theoretical book reports facts offers detached arguments or offers insight or understanding of a position These books teach you that something is the caseii A practical book tells you how to live or how to do something These books teach you how to do somethingiii As an aside these two cannot be sharply separated As John Frame points out in The Doctrine of God facts and application of the facts go hand in hand When I learn the 6th commandment I know how to apply it But as I apply it to diverse areas of life I learn about the 6th commandment2 Succinctly state what the book is about That is find the main theme or point of the book You should be able to state this in a sentence paragraph at most This is different than IVA1 in that here we are asking what the book is about not what kind of book it is3 Outline the book See this outline for an instantiation of this rule Basically you want to get at the bones of the book The basic structure The construction of the major themes and arguments How the book proceeds The skeleton 4 Define the problems the author has tried to solve To see the unity of a book you need to know why it has the unity it has supposing it’s a good book and it has a unity To know why it has the unity it has you should know the authors main problems he’s trying to answer; as well as subordinate uestions and answersB Stage two Rules for interpreting the book’s content5 Coming to terms with the authora A term is not a word A term is the meaning of a word Water and agua are two different words they mean the same thing thoughb To know the authors terms then is to understand the meaning of his argument or explanation etcc Find the important words and through them come to terms with the authord The words he uses in an important way or the ones you have trouble understanding are probably the important terms you need to knowe Read all the words in context to find the meaning of the terms; how the author means them that is 6 Grasp the leading propositions by finding the key sentencesa Propositions are the meanings of sentencesb You find the leading propositions by finding the key sentencesc You find the key sentences myriad waysi The author marks them out for you in some wayii These are the sentences that give you the most troubleiii The sentences express judgments Ie they are not uestions or exclamationsiv These are his reasons for affirming or denying the main problems he has set out to answer7 Find the author’s argument by finding them in the key seuences of sentencesa Sting together the important propositions into an ordered structureb An argument must involve than one statementc An argument might be an inductive or deductive oned Observe what the author says he must prove and what he must assume8 Find which problems the author solved and which one’s he did not If he did not find out if he knows that he did nota Did the author solve the problems he set out to solve?b Did he raise new ones in the process?c Did the author admit or know that he failed to solve some of the problems?d If you know the solutions to the problems you can be confident that you understand the bookC Stage three Rules for criticizing a book as a communication of knowledge You are reuired to criticize the book you read You owe the author that Criticize or offering a judgment does not necessarily mean that you disagree with the author You can offer the judgment that you agree with him you have learned something and he has answered what he set out to If you disagree which is your right be sure you have completed the above steps You cannot critiue that which you do not understand9 General maxims for intellectual etiuettea Do not begin criticism until you have completed your outline and interpretation of the bookb Do not agree disputatiously or contentiouslyc Demonstrate you understand the difference between knowledge and mere opinion by giving reasons for your judgments criticisms10 Special criteria for points of criticisma Show where the author is uninformed This is where he lacks some piece of knowledge that is relevant to the problems he was trying to solveb Show where the author is misinformed This is when the author asserts what is not the casec Show where the author is illogical Here the author’s reasoning is faulty He has either made a non seuitur or was inconsistentd Show where the author’s analysis argument or solution to problems is incomplete This is to say the author did not solve all the problems he started out to solve or did not make good use of the material at his disposal that he failed to take into account all the ramifications or made distinctions relevant to his undertakingThe above outline provides the rules and strategies reuired for reading well Many folks are well read not many read well Thomas Hobbes once said “If I read as many books as most men do I would be as dull witted as they are”


  3. says:

    Who This Book is not ForIt focuses mainly on reading expositional rather than imaginative material It was written in 1940 and revised in 1972 though it looks and feels like a 40s book I read it in the hope of becoming a analytical reader who could go on to write coherent concise and original reviews It didn’t helpThis may once have been a good book Had I read it as an undergraduate I may even have found bits of it slightly useful As a middle aged fiction reader in the 21st century I found it infuriating boring and mostly irrelevant Types of ReadingThere are four levels of reading 1 Elementary learning to decode the symbols2 Inspectional time limited skimming3 Analytical4 Syntopical comparing and drawing conclusions I used Inspectional for most of the book because my patience and interest were severely and increasingly limitedIt focuses mainly on analytical reading of non fiction knowing what sort of book it is having an idea of the content and structure etc Its own structure is very poor For example four rules of analytical reading are spread across two chapters and only listed together at the end of the second Then in the next chapter you discover rule five and six It turns out there are 15 yes 15 rules of analytical reading Enough to put me off reading altogetherThere are a couple of chapters devoted to fiction but I didn’t find them helpful or insightfulExample of Annoyances“ Most plays are not worth reading because they are incomplete”Sweeping generalisation followed by a non seuitur I rarely read plays precisely because they were written for performance and I can’t do that effectively in my head It does not mean that most plays are not worth reading though“ An author uses most words as men ordinarily do in conversation”I nearly threw the book across the room though that was probably an overreaction born of my mounting dislike Yes I know it was written when it was common to use male pronouns as generic ones and to use “man” to mean “mankindhumankind” But it was revised in 1972 and “men” grates far than “man” surely “people” would be natural even back then? The Literary Canon only one?I don’t think the authors really know who their audience is a fatal flaw in any writerreader relationship There are constant assumptions that the reader is familiar with the classical Western canon from ancient civilisations through to the start of the twentieth century Homer’s Ulysses though to Joyce’s Ulysses If you’d read them in school as the authors expect you’d either have understood them and so have little need of this book or not understood them and have no intention of reading this bookThis is reflected in the impressive and somewhat daunting reading list It explicitly includes only Western works because1 The authors admit they know very little about Indian Chinese Japanese and other literary traditions They could have consulted someone else2 Apparently there is not a single tradition in Eastern literature as there is in Western I’m not sure I understand the truth or untruth of that3 It’s better to really know your own culture’s canon before branching out to others I don’t agree but it is a valid and somewhat interesting opinionExercisesAn appendix has a lot of comprehension exercises I’m not sure what term is used outside the UK I didn’t do any of them I’d rather read a good bookIf you want to read a book I suggest you read a book But probably not this oneIf you want exercises make it a large heavy one


  4. says:

    It’s such a dinosaur Cranky snooty stuffy pedantic often condescending It’s a manual For intelligent reading Very textbook y very fundamental Very practical Like some invisible ruler cracked against my keyboard clobbering knuckles like a pesky voice in your headIt’s like having tea with your cane thumping retiree professor of a great grandfather Him demanding why you aren’t wearing hose and will you please stand up straight? You bide your time you promised you’d keep him company And then hours later you realize you’re growing fond of the old coot you can’t help but enjoy the starchiness And there are rewards there are gems your heart could ping with the occasional moments of egad tenderness Just imagine Gramps lecturing you on all the misreading you’ve committed giving you precise directions on how to analyze a given book’s title teaching you how to skim the right way And then him suddenly going uiet when you’ve mustered the courage to ask about fiction—him uiet and then and then “We do not know we cannot be sure that the real world is good But the world of a great story is somehow good We want to live there as often and as long as we can” And you both reach for your cups of tea


  5. says:

    I'm reading this awesome book again I'll be writing my notes for each chapter below It will be like a running account of my summary of and thoughts about every chapter So be warned this is going to be a very very very long review I hope I'll be able to write a shorter version after I'm done with the bookOverviewBasically How to Read a Book is a practical book It aims to help people become intelligent readers To read intelligently means to read actively To read actively means to read skillfully This means that reading is actually a skill in the same way that writing is a skill It is an activity Therefore it is never passive And to read skillfully means to read not for information and amusement but for understanding The authors propose that in order to achieve this aim intelligent active skillful reading readers must observe certain rules These rules are discussed in detail throughout the bookThe book has 4 parts and 21 chapters Part 1 The Dimensions of Reading talks about the nature and levels of reading Part 2 The Third Level of Reading Analytical Reading talks about what analytical reading is how to go about reading a book analytically and the general uestions you must ask or the general rules you must observe when reading a book analytically Part 3 Approaches to Different Kinds of Reading Matter talks about well the different approaches to different kinds of literature expository books imaginative literature etc Part 4 The Ultimate Goals of Reading talks about the fourth and highest level of reading syntopical readingPart One The Dimensions of ReadingChapter One The Activity and Art of ReadingAdler and Van Doren says that reading is an activity Therefore reading is active not passive He gives an analogy baseball Reading is like catching the ball in baseball It is an active thing And because it is active it reuires skill This book aims to help readers develop that very skill Adler says that there are different goals of reading information amusement entertainment and understanding This book is mainly concerned with the latter goal So the goal of this book is to help readers learn how to read for increased understanding That means to read in order to move from understanding less to understanding That also means reading in order to become wise or enlightenedThe authors also differentiate between reading for information and amusement and reading for increased understanding and enlightenment On the one hand you are reading for information when after reading the book you are only able to state the facts in the book On the other hand you are reading for increased understanding and enlightenment when after finishing the book you can state the things in the book and at the same time explain what they meanAdler and Van Doren says that books are like absent teachers Books can teach us something they can help us increase our understanding about the world although their authors may no longer be physically present That's great news because that means that we have access to the greatest minds in the history of civilizationAdler and Van Doren says that the goal of this book is to help readers learn the skills they need in order to become well read as opposed to being merely widely readThoughtsI love Adler's baseball analogy of readingPitcher hitter Writer authorCatcher ReaderBall The ideas or information contained in the bookI also like to be reminded that reading at least reading for increased understanding which is the main goal of this book is never passive Reading is active it is an activity That is it involves the performance of certain mental acts And you shouldn't take it for granted When you read a book you must allow it to influence or affect you However I'm not sure if I agree with the authors when they say that our goal if we wish to become intelligent and skillful readers is to read difficult books so that our understanding about things will increase I mean can we not read books that are entertaining and therefore easy to read but can also increase our understanding about life and the world?I love the idea about books being absent teachers That's an awesome thought isn't it? That means that as readers we still have access to the greatest minds in human history We can still approach them and allow them to teach us even if they are no longer with us physically We can go to Plato Aristotle or Auinas and sit at their feet while they lecture us about their philosophyLastly I love Adler's distinction between being well read and being widely read I agree with him that our goal should be to become well read and not merely widely read Chapter two The Levels of ReadingAdler and Van Doren talks about the different levels of reading1 Elementary reading2 Inspectional reading3 Analytical reading4 Syntopical readingElementary reading asks the uestion What is the sentence saying and what do the words mean? Inspectional reading asks What is the book about as a whole? What is its structure? What are its parts? Analytical reading asks What is the author saying? What does he mean? What are his arguments? Are they true? So what? And syntopical reading asks Given all these books literature about this particular topic or issue what analysis or conclusion can I make?These levels are cumulative so a reader cannot master the highest level of reading syntopical reading without first mastering elementary inspectional and analytical readingThoughtsI like how the authors break down the skill of reading into levels It's very helpfulOur ultimate goal should be syntopical reading Chapter three The First Level of Reading Elementary ReadingBasically Adler and Van Doren says that elementary reading has four stages reading readiness word mastery or the ability to understand basic words rapid growth of vocabulary and the further refinement of these skillsA child has to go through each of the above stages in order to master this reading level This does not happen uickly In fact it takes years of practice It starts during nursery or thereabouts when the child becomes ready physically and intellectually to read Then the child goes through his elementary years and learns to read basic books During these years the child's vocabulary grows and he begins to develop his understanding of context Then during his high school years he further develops and refines his reading skillsIdeally by the time the child reaches high school he should be able to read books analyticallyThoughtsI can honestly say that I haven't yet really mastered this basic reading level My vocabulary is really not that wide or deep and sometimes I find it hard to understand the context of a given sentence especially if the book I'm reading is advanced or tertiary level Chapter four The Second Level of Reading Inspectional ReadingAdler and Van Doren talks about the second level of reading inspectional reading Inspectional reading involves two steps systematic skimming or pre reading and superficial readingSystematic skimming involves several steps Look at the book's title and subtitle if any; Read the preface; Look at the table of contents; Look at the index; take note of the topics and authors discussed in the book; Read the summary at the end of the book or at the end of each chapter; Read the first few lines of each opening paragraph of every chapter; Read the publisher's blurbSuperficial reading involves browsing the pages of the book slowly but superficially scanning every page casuallyAdler and Van Doren says that inspectional reading achieves two things It helps you know whether the book is for you personally worthy of being read analytically or not; and it gives you a general idea of the book which is useful for your future referenceThe authors say that there is really no such thing as a standard reading speed Ideally you should simply adjust your speed according to the book's difficultyThey also talk about reading fixations and regressions people's tendency to not read the book straight through without interruptions They say these two things harm our reading because they prevent us from understanding the gist of the book They suggest that we should use markers or pointers when we read this can be a pen or our finger This increases our reading speed and comprehension significantly Also they say that we don't have to understand everything about the book right away What's important is that we continue reading without fixations and regressions and make an effort to understand the essence of the book even if we don't understand what the author is saying 100%ThoughtsI love this reading level Basically the idea here is that not all books that are available out there deserve to be read analytically Majority of them are worth an inspectional reading only And inspectional reading is very very useful If you follow its steps you will have a general idea of what the book is about you'll know what kind of a book it is whether it's a work of fiction or non fiction etc what its subject matter is what its structureoutline is and what its main arguments areAlso when you read a book inspectionally you will be in a better position to decide whether the book is really that interesting or relevant for you and whether it is really worthy of your time and effort to read analytically or whether you should just set it aside for future referenceAdler and Van Doren's suggestion to use the finger as a pointer while reading is also very helpful Chapter five How to Be a Demanding ReaderI think this chapter is a preparation for analytical reading which is discussed in part 2 Adler and Van Doren says that in order to become an intelligent or skilled reader you must be demanding in your reading That is to say you should make the effort to read and understand what you're reading You must be motivated by the desire to enlighten yourself to increase your understanding about mattersFurther to become a demanding or active reader you must ask uestions while you read What sorts of uestions?These four generally1 What is the book about as a whole?2 What is being said in detail and how?3 Is it true?4 What of it?These are also the four uestions you ask when you are reading a book analytically They are applicable to any type of book fiction or non fiction but when it comes to works of imaginative literature like novels poems or plays these four uestions are altered a bitOf course you shouldn't simply ask these uestions you must also do your best to answer them The first uestion helps you know the book's type and subject matter The second uestion helps you know the book's structure outline and its main parts and arguments The third uestion helps you know whether the author is right or not or whether his arguments are true or not And the fourth uestion helps you know what the book's significance and implication is to your lifeAdler and Van Doren also says that we must make the book our own When we buy a book it doesn't automatically become ours That is just the first step The second step is to read the book and interact with the author's ideas by writing on the book or making marks on its significant sentences or paragraphsThe authors also say that basically in order to develop the skill of intelligent reading you must ask uestions and obey those four general rules Rules are necessarily because they give us structure and help us discipline our reading At first remembering and observing these rules may be very challenging but that is just normal Any skill is difficult to learn at first but with habit it becomes easierThoughtsI loved this chapterBasically the above four uestions lie at the very heart of analytical reading That is when we read a book analytically we always ask those four uestions and do our best to answer themI love the idea of making a book our own That's very true We shouldn't fear marking our book We must converse with the author's ideas The we do this the the knowledge and insights will stick to us so that after answering all those uestions at the end of the book a part of us is already in the book and a great part of the book is now in us or in our minds at leastI just find the four uestions very helpful They guide me and provide structure to my reading Also they remind me that books are very very important Essential even So we shouldn't take them for granted We shouldn't read them casually especially if we're reading for understanding We should allow them to influence and affect us For example after reading an apologetic book like Reasonable Faith by the Christian philosopher William Lane Craig we shouldn't just set it aside and act as if nothing happened and nothing changed We should instead ask ourselves Is what William Lane Craig saying true? Are his arguments really good? Does God really exist? If so what are its implications to my life? What is its significance? What part of my mindset mentality philosophy or worldview should I change as a result of agreeing or disagreeing with Dr Craig?


  6. says:

    The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks I had a lot of fun holding this book upside down on the subway with a puzzled look on my face For much of his remarkably long life Mortimer Adler was the leading proponent of the ‘Great Books’ paradigm of education Under his leadership the Encyclopedia Britannica published the 54 volume Great Books of the Western World 1952 as well as the Gateway to the Great Books 1963—which considering their bulk price and difficulty were surprisingly successful projects In addition to his editing and publishing work Adler wrote many popular books on philosophy and education Nowadays however he is primarily remembered for this how to book on reading Although I have been and continue to be somewhat critical of the ‘Great Book’s paradigm I have submitted myself wholeheartedly to it Ever since I encountered the list of the Great Books of the Western World I have been gradually making my way through them It was this list that prompted me to take my self education seriously; and through it I’ve had some of my most rewarding reading experiences Adler has thus already albeit indirectly exerted a huge influence on my reading life so it seemed appropriate that I pick up his book on reading and encounter his thoughts for myself Adler promises to aid the reader of any type of reading material; but as he later admits the strategies he suggests are most directly applicable to non fiction To this end he divides reading into four levels—elementary inspectional analytical and syntopical The vast majority of Adler's exposition is focused on the third level analytical reading These are the strategies that allow you to get the most out of any given book Adler’s favorite philosopher was Aristotle and it shows Just as Aristotle’s treatises on can often seem like organized common sense so Adler’s advice often sounds platitudinous How do you get the most out of a book? Outline the text be active ask uestions pay attention to the author’s terminology scrutinize their arguments be aware of the difference between opinion and fact All of this is reasonable and good advice; but it can be deflating to see that Adler’s strategies are already commonly known and widely used At the very least I cannot say there is anything strikingly original in here There is much to irritate in this book For one although it was substantially revised in 1972 Adler retains the masculine pronoun for general statements He even says “men” when he means “people” which can’t help but bother the contemporary ear More importantly Adler’s writing style is dry and wordy He gives lengthy verbose descriptions of simple concepts and tends to repeat himself One would think that this is due to his attempt to appeal to novice readers; but his formal tone dense paragraphs and schoolmasterly attitude will I suspect put off any but the bravest neophyte The most important shortcoming I think is the absence of the why? of reading at the expense of the how? This is curious considering that in his section on reading practical books Adler has this to sayYou can see why the practical author must always be something or an orator or propagandist Since your ultimate judgment of his work is going to turn on your acceptance of the goal for which he is proposing means it is up to him to win you to his ends To do this he has to argue in a way that appeals to your heart as well as your mind He may have to play on your emotions and gain direction of your willYet Adler includes almost no appeals to the heart There are so many injunctions reuirements and rules in this book that you can’t help concluding that reading is a bothersome chore This book would have been far effective I think if he had dwelt on the joys and rewards of reading This could have been done with a simple anecdote He could have drawn on his own experience as a reader or included a story from his classes A few short examples not only would have helped to encouraged any beginners but would probably have served to enliven the dry prose The particular is always memorable than the general Adler’s literary personality is also irksome His general attitude is condescending It’s easy to imagine him standing over you ruler in hand staring down his nose as you struggle with Aristotle There are some good books and a few great ones he thinks and the rest is basically trash If you really want to improve your reading you’re going to have to read really great books—which are of course the books in The Great Books of the Western World Coupled with this condescension is a kind of willfully old fashioned pretence This is signaled by his persistent use of the masculine pronoun his creaky and dry prose and also in his dismissal of much modern intellectual work as too specialized too technical or just wrong headed All these reservations aside I must admit that Adler basically succeeds in his goal which is to develop a methodology for getting as much as you can from non fiction books In my experience his advice is sound and solid What is I also must admit that every time I've read a book on Adler’s list I found it surpassingly excellent—even great But I have trouble imagining myself recommending this book to an inexperienced reader and still trouble imagining an inexperienced reader getting through it It is therefore most valuable as a reminder to experienced readers to take reading seriously to be methodical and to treat books with the respect they deserve


  7. says:

    I heard about this book in a casual conversation and my interest was piued When I heard that the book instructs on analytical reading I knew I had to read itI have decided that I am not going to summarize the rules enunciated in this book Instead I would keep my review shortIn the first chapter the authors have mentioned that “ this book is about the art of reading for the sake of increased understanding” The authors have clearly stated that the book intends to help people understand expository works In simple terms the book is meant for people who read serious non fiction However the authors have included sections on how to read fiction plays and poetry as well The book discusses the following four levels of reading with major stress on the third type • Elementary• Inspectional• Analytical• SyntopicalThe last and most advanced level – syntopical reading was an added bonus In syntopical reading the reader goes through various books on the same subject and is able to construct an analysis of the subject which may not be in any of the books The book is good and no doubt helpful if you want to improve your reading skills There are many tips and rules which guide you to better reading There are separate sections on how to read practical books imaginative literature stories plays poetry history sciences mathematics philosophy and social science Instead of memorizing them as rule 1 rule 2 – I felt it was better to understand the gist of their adviceOne problem with the book is that the authors were too verbose Parts of the book were repetitive and some portions could have been pruned without affecting the uality of the book I do appreciate the efforts of the authors and understand that composing such a book is not an easy task They have done a praiseworthy job but I feel some editing would have made the book much compact The authors have included a reading list and said that these books would facilitate the growth of the mind The list includes books on the sciences literature politics and statecraft poetry theology etc Authors included range from ancient Greek masters to great minds of the modern world The authors have admitted that they include books from the Asian tradition because they themselves were not “particularly knowledgeable outside of the Western literary tradition” You might want to check out the reading comprehension exercises given at the end of the book It is fun


  8. says:

    In junior high high school I made it my job to avoid reading altogether just like politicians who avoid hard uestions When I was twenty I hadn't read a book since I was in fourth grade was only partially literate was a high school drop out with no intentions of ever cracking another book or attending another schoolthen I became a Christian Jesus not only transformed my desires habits and life's direction; he radically transformed two things my desire to learn and my pursuit of truth When I came across this book I was seeking to simply become a stronger reader but this book outside of the Bible has changed me than any other The book isn't good because itself is a wonderul read although it is instructional; rather it is a great book because of where it points a reader to what the authors call the Great Conversation I had found the Truth but had chosen to remove myself from the world of ideas people who had left a legacy of seeking the very thing that I had recently found


  9. says:

    I read this book because I live by the mantra Life is Short Read Fast and I hoped it would teach me how to read faster Instead it teaches you to read slower analytically It also teaches you how to date a book to decide if you really want to spend the time to read the whole thing before commiting yourself to it This book has a rather pedantic tone which makes it a little dry to plow through But I kept at it because there were philosophical gems interspersed throughout the pages One of my favorite of which follows“But if the book belongs to the highest class—the very small number of inexhaustible books—you discover on returning that the book seems to have grown with you You see new things in it—whole sets of new things—that you did not see before Your previous understanding of the book in not invalidated; it is just as true as it ever was and in the same ways that it was true before But now it is true in still other ways too Since it is a really good book—a great book as we might say— it is accessible at different levels Your impression of increased understanding on your previous reading was not false The book truly lifted you then But now even though you have become wiser and knowledgeable it can lift you again And it will go on doing this until you die” p 343


  10. says:

    Read this with my two daughters when they were in seventh and eighth grades respectively It not only teaches how to read different materials but also gives a list of must read books Every serious reader needs to read this book Both of my daughters say they still use things they learned from this book in their reading But they weren't terribly crazy about the book when we read it HaMost important thing about the book while there are many useful books you will read over the course of your life you do not necessarily read them all the same way There are techniues to be learned for learning how to get the most of your readingstudy efforts ie we can learn how to learn better


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How to Read a Book

Free download ✓ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ´ Mortimer J. Adler

To achieve them – from elementary reading through systematic skimming and inspectional reading to speed reading you learn how to pigeonhole a book X ray it extract the author's message criticize You are taught the different reading techniues for reading practical books imaginative literatur It’s such a dinosaur Cranky snooty stuffy pedantic often condescendin

characters How to Read a Book

How to Read a Book originally published in 1940 has become a rare phenomenon a living classic It is the best and most successful guide to reading comprehension for the general reader And now it has been completely rewritten and updated You are told about the various levels of reading and how Who This Book is not ForIt focuses mainly on reading expositional rathe

Free download ✓ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ´ Mortimer J. Adler

E plays poetry history science and mathematics philosophy and social science Finally the authors offer a recommended reading list and supply reading tests whereby you can measure your own progress in reading skills comprehension and speedThis a previously published edition of ISBN 97806712120 In junior high high school I made it my job to avoid reading altogether

  • Paperback
  • 426
  • How to Read a Book
  • Mortimer J. Adler
  • English
  • 18 October 2018
  • null

About the Author: Mortimer J. Adler

Mortimer Jerome Adler was an American educator philosopher and popular author As a philosopher he worked with Aristotelian and Thomistic thought He lived for the longest stretches in New York City Chicago San Francisco and San Mateo He worked for Columbia University the University of Chicago Encyclopædia Britannica and Adler's own Institute for Philosophical ResearchAdler was born in N