Item description for How to Read a Book (A Touchstone book) by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren...
Overview Analyzes the art of reading and suggests ways to approach literary works
Publishers Description With half a million copies in print, " How to Read a Book" is the best and most successful guide to reading comprehension for the general reader, completely rewritten and updated with new material. Originally published in 1940, this book is a rare phenomenon, a "living" classic that introduces and elucidates the various levels of reading and how to achieve them--from elementary reading, through systematic skimming and inspectional reading, to speed reading. Readers will learn when and how to "judge a book by its cover," and also how to X-ray it, read critically, and extract the author's message from the text. Also included is instruction in the different techniques that work best for reading particular genres, such as practical books, imaginative literature, plays, poetry, history, science and mathematics, philosophy and social science works. Finally, the authors offer a recommended reading list and supply reading tests you can use measure your own progress in reading skills, comprehension, and speed.
Citations And Professional Reviews How to Read a Book (A Touchstone book) by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 17
Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1993 page 22
Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1998 page 22
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.18" Width: 6.73" Height: 1.08" Weight: 0.8 lbs.
Release Date Jul 24, 1996
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Edition Revised and Upd
ISBN 0671212095 ISBN13 9780671212094
Reviews - What do customers think about How to Read a Book (A Touchstone book)?
Good Strategies for Reading Mar 29, 2007
I hate to say this, but I think maybe I found this book too late. I majored in English in college, and I had to read a lot, so maybe I already taught myself these strategies the hard way. I really was excited about this book and wanted to get into it, but I found myself employing the book's strategies while reading the book. I skimmed, I skipped sections that weren't immediately relevant, and I disagree with reading books you don't really want to read. Read what's fun and what strikes your interest or makes you smile. Read the ones you don't want to read when they're assigned in school. That's my take.
Learning to learn Mar 15, 2007
I'm reading the very beginning of the book, but I've listened good things about it. The language is very simple and clear, I think I'll understand something about learning, about liberal education and about unaided discovery.
Sooo not easie! Feb 13, 2007
Man i trie to read this book 3 time but i cant do it.
Look at all the stellar reviews !?!?! Feb 8, 2007
Truly, I admire anyone who reads every word of this book (as I did). To say the author is verbose is quite an understatement. A family member of mine met the good Dr. Adler, and was not quite star struck either. I found this out after reading "How to Read a Book", and was relieved we had reached the same conclusion. MJ Adler wants to make absolutely, positively, incontrovertibly, wholly, unambiguously, categorically *CERTAIN* you know exactly, precisely, ..(blah-blah).. , and clearly what he means. Easily two-thirds of the book is reiteration of an already clearly-made point. This isn't to say that it's a valueless book. Its intellectual treatment of the subject of reading a book is nothing less than complete. It's also quite a bit longer than it need be. I would ideally be allowed to rate it at 4.5 stars. I had to take 1/2 star, rather than give 1/2 for being more than a bit too thorough. It was, in short, a drudgerous read.
If I were you, I would definitely grab a used copy of this book, or check it out from the library. I would then employ its wisdom (most of which is in the first third of the book), and make a good outline of the book's major points. This book is a recipe for extracting the marrow from books, considering their finer points, and finally weighing the impact on your life and/or larger issues. If you really like the author's style, read on, and be impressed with how well-read he is. If it's dull to you (as it became for me), rest well knowing that if you have the general ideas from the book in mind, like a recipe for reading, you will still have benefited from it, and almost certainly will have improved your reading in some appreciable way. I detract only for missed opportunities in brevity.
Do not underestimate this book Nov 20, 2006
1.1 Résumé of the book "How to Read a Book: the classic guide to intelligent reading", is a practical guide for self-improvement that teach us the rules of reading any material, but especially analytical writing. They can be applied to reading the Great Books (primary knowledge) for understanding and pleasure but mainly to learn by reading the Great Books of the Western World. 1.2 The different types of reading * Reading for information We have gained more facts but we have learned nothing. This method is used to read newspapers, magazines or anything that we understand totally by reading it once. * Reading for learning (for understanding more) Reading to understand more is to close the gap between the superiority of the author and the reader by learning through communication with the author. * Reading for enjoyment This type of reading is the most common, as it is used to read fiction and other books for pleasure. 1.3 The three different reading levels * Level one - Elementary reading The first level covers the basic reading skills we learn in the first years of school; we recognize words but do not necessarily understand them. * Level two - Inspectional reading (preparation for Analytical and Syntopical reading) The level two skills are based on two steps named skimming (or pre-reading) and superficial reading.
The different steps of skimming, which should take at least one hour for a book, are: o Look at the title and preface o Study the table of contents and understand the structure of the book o Check the index (to learn the most important words and where the important paragraphs are) o Read the publisher's blurb o Look now at the main chapters (or the summaries) and read them carefully o Finally turn the pages and dip in here and there, reading some paragraphs or some pages in sequence The step of superficial reading is: o Read a difficult book through without stopping to read footnotes, comments and references. Do not even consult a dictionary (except for a brand new word that seems very important for the author) or encyclopedia * Level three - analytical reading (how to read a whole book well) Analytical reading is defined by Adler himself as: "With nothing else but the power of your mind, you operate on the symbols before you in such a way that you gradually lift yourself from the state of understanding less to one of understanding more." Analytical reading is the method, which is explained in detail. For Adler, it is the most important level for learning by reading, especially by reading the Great Books. Analytical reading is split into three stages. Stage 1 or the first reading (finding out what the book is about, based on structural rules) o Pigeonholing a book * Classify the book o X-raying the book * State what the whole book is about * Enumerate its major parts in their order and relation and outline those parts * Define the problems the author has tried to solve Stage 2 or second reading (rules of interpreting) o Coming to terms with an author * Come to terms in interpreting the key words o Determining an author's message * Grasp the author's leading propositions by dealing with his/her important sentences * Know the author's arguments by finding them or constructing them out of sequences of sentences (stated in your own words) * Determine which of the problems the author has solved, and which he had failed to solve or ignored Stage 3 or third reading (rules for criticizing) o Answer to the author based on the rules of intellectual etiquette * Do not say `I agree, disagree or suspend my judgment' until you can say `I understand' * Do not disagree disputatiously or contentiously * Base your critical judgment on knowledge and not on personal opinion, and give reasons o Show how the author is uninformed, misinformed, illogical or his analysis is incomplete Important note: use relevant experience, commentaries or reference books as aids to reading. * Level four - Syntoptical Reading (based on inspectional and analytical reading - how to read several books on the same subject) The different stages of syntopical reading are: * Preparations or first reading 1. Find the sense of the subject to reduce the amount of material 2. Inspect all the material to have a clear idea of the subject * Syntopical Reading or second reading 1. Find the relevant paragraph 2. Build a set of terms that help you to understand all the different authors 3. Clarify the questions to which all the authors give an answer ("Look to all sides but take no sides"). 4. Define the answers (join and sort the different and perhaps controversial answers or views on the subject) 5. Analyze the discussion to shine maximum light on the subject How the different views are ordered (from more general to less general) is the key point of the last step. Support the view or answers by citation of the authors 1.4 The keys questions to answer * What is the book about as a whole? The author suggests the reader should discover the leading theme of the book and how it is ordered in sub-themes. * What is being said in detail and how? Here we will have to discover the author's main propositions, arguments and ideas. * Is it true (in whole or in part)? Understand the book first, then give your opinion * What of it? We must ask about the significance of the book, for the author and for us. Inspectional reading will solve the first two questions... Analytical reading will not have been completed until all four questions have been answered. The last question is the most important one in syntopical reading. 2 Key lessons from "How to Read a Book" * Preparations 1. Find the main sense of the subject to reduce the amount of material 2. Inspect all the material to have a clear idea of the subject * Key lessons 1. Find the relevant arguments and propositions 2. Build a common platform for communication 3. Get the questions clear, so everybody can give an answer 4. Define the answers 5. Analyze the discussion to shed maximum light on the subject The most important step is to analyze the different opinions and to be able to defend them. If a solution cannot be found, the analysis will clarify the problem, so someone can solve it later on (see sample of the author on progress).