Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book: How to Read a Book

Everyone reading a large number of articles and books could read this book.

Authors: Mortimer J. Adler, Charles van Doren

Rating: interesting

This book was one of many recommended readings from my survey at ACCDE10. The title was promising so I decided to give it a try.

Many aspects of the reading task are covered in both theoretical and practical ways. Four levels of reading are distinguished:

  1. elementary reading - nothing more or less than the ability to read and understand written text
  2. inspectional reading - the ability to skim and browse quickly through a text
  3. analytical reading - the ability to get into the details of a text as well as understanding and criticizing an author's messages
  4. syntopical reading - the ability to analyze and put a text into the context of related books on the same topic
The book offers many practical advice on how to read texts of specific kinds like e.g. history, novels, mathematics, and practical books.

I made the experience to have applied some of the practical advices to the book itself. So I skipped some 40% of the actual content of the book - and I don't feel bad about it. I assume such reading behavior was intended by the authors.

On the other hand I'm still puzzled if the book is worth its 400 pages. I'm sure the essence of the book with all its advices and "how to"s would fit on less than 10 pages. The authors probably should have read something like "How to write a book". Nonetheless the book is interesting and to read it may serve well for a reflection on one's own reading approach.

1 comment:

  1. We are a not-for-profit educational organization, founded by Mortimer Adler and we have recently made an exciting discovery--three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos, lively discussing the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost.

    Three hours with Mortimer Adler on one DVD. A must for libraries and classroom teaching the art of reading.

    I cannot over exaggerate how instructive these programs are--we are so sure that you will agree, if you are not completely satisfied, we will refund your donation.

    Please go here to see a clip and learn more:

    ISBN: 978-1-61535-311-8

    Thank you,

    Max Weismann