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
Title: How to Read a Book

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.

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