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How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  7,200 ratings  ·  813 reviews
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 to achieve them – from elementary reading, through systematic skimming and

Paperback, Completely Revised and Updated, 426 pages
Published August 15th 1972 by Simon & Schuster, Inc (first published 1940)
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Lauren What you describe sounds more like a learning disability (LD): LD can be comorbid with other psychological/cognitive disorders or you can mimic such…moreWhat you describe sounds more like a learning disability (LD): LD can be comorbid with other psychological/cognitive disorders or you can mimic such disorders when taking prescription drugs to treat other disorders.

I am a former sufferer of depression, and a graduate in psychology. I struggled in school but, when I complained to my health care providers, they always blamed the disorder or the drugs and said there was nothing I could do. After suffering for more than a decade, I stopped treatment AMA (it worked well for me, but I do not recommend this) and wound up in remission (my body finally recovered but the drugs were interfering with my body asserting itself). I still struggled with reading problems. Finally, being off meds and medically diagnosed as in remission, they listened to me and referred me for testing: turns out, I have had Learning Disabilities - including a form of dyslexia - since birth and they were always blaming something else.

My point is that Health Care Providers can get a little lazy, attributing everything to one diagnosis and missing the rest of the picture. I would ask your psychiatrist for help investigating this issue: some psychiatrists are qualified to diagnose cognitive issues/psychoeducational issues, most are not but they can refer you to an appropriate provider (usually a psychoeducational psychologist) for testing and consult. If you can afford it or your insurance will pay for it, it is worth it even later in life.

This book probably WON'T help with your issue: this book discusses different methods of reading, and changing your method will change your processing of the material, which may alter your memory of the material, it does not help with working memory. It will teach you how to find the main points, but that may not be enough if you have a memory issue.

That said, book club members often take notes as they go along and bring them to group: if you keep a book journal, know how to analyse such things and write them down as they occur to you (with an extra "download" or review when you finish the book), you will have more than enough material to describe and discuss. Going over notes will also strengthen your memory, and this book will teach you to take notes.

Good luck!(less)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

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Nandakishore Varma
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 One.


Wrong! According to Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren, the authors of How to Read a Book.

According 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 more levels: “Inspe
Steve Sckenda
"Good books are over your head; they would not be good for you if they were not. And books that are over your head weary you unless you can reach up to them and pull yourself up to their level. It is not the stretching that tires you, but the frustration of stretching unsuccessfully because you lack the skill to stretch effectively. "--Mortimer Adler

Mortimer Adler wants to teach you to be a demanding reader and to invest you with the skills of stretching by learning the art of active reading.
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 "review."

How To Read A Book:

(This 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 re
Mar 24, 2012 Dante rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Dante by: Doug Geivett
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 book.


Basically, 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 r
Deemah Al-Otaibi
كنت ابحث منذ فترة ليست وجيزة عن كتاب يعلمني كيف اقرأ .. لأني كنت ابحث عن اجوبه لأسئله صعبه , ومهمه جدا بالنسبه لي .. ماذا يجب ان اقرأ , ماذا اريد ان اقرأ .. و السؤال المهم كيف اختار كتـبي ؟

فأنا عندما أدخل مكتبه , لا اعرف ماذا اريد .. فأضيع بين الكتب , استمتع بالنظر اليها واتمنى لو كان عقلي يشبه الكمبيوتر فأخزن به كل هذة الكتب جميعا , فجميعها له شكل جذّاب ! و عديد من الكتب في المكتبه كتبوها كتّاب لهم شهرة واسعه و اسمائهم تلمع في عيني ! فتعميني و لا استطيع ان ارى جيدا مالذي اختارة ومالذي يجب ان اخ
Sasha Martinez
Sep 25, 2011 Sasha Martinez added it
Shelves: 2011
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 head.

It’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.
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! Ha!)

Most important thing about the book--while there are many useful books you will read over the course of you
In junior high & high school I made it my job to avoid reading altogether, just like politicians who avoid hard questions. 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 school....then 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 purs ...more
كتاب قيم مؤلف منذ فترة طويلة من قبل خبير امريكي
حول طرق القراءة الحديثة
بالرغم من كوني قارئ قديم الا انني بين الفترة والاخرى اقرأ كتب من هذا النمط
وهو دليل على اننا جميعا مهما وصلنا من تقدم في مختلف المعارف فأن ذلك لا يشكل الا نقطة البداية
سبحان الله!!
كيف تقرأ كتابا وكلا منا قرأ الاف الكتب!! ذلك هو النقص في جملة بني البشر
وترى منا من يحمل في داخله جبروت لا يخشى به احدا وهو غير قادر على الصمود امام اقل الامراض فتكا!! ومع علمه بذلك فهو يخالف ويعاند تلك الحقائق الشاملة كجزء من المنظومة اللامرئية المتحكم
Sep 04, 2008 Natasha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: serious readers
Recommended to Natasha by: Oliver DeMille
Shelves: education
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. On ...more
Najibah Bakar
Buku ini secara keseluruhannya cuba mengajar kita menjadi pembaca yang lebih aktif, supaya berhasil mendapatkan lebih manfaat dari bahan bacaan. Manakala tujuan tertinggi dan terakhir dari kegiatan membaca adalah untuk meninggikan akal budi.

Kemas kini 1/4/2015 (bukan sempena GST): Borang untuk membina teknik membaca superfisial saya kongsikan di sini ( Saya membina borang ini untuk kegunaan peribadi baru-baru ini, kerana apabila bermula ketika agak berus

I have been reading this book very slowly, on and off, the past two months, trying to have enough time to concentrate, focus, be analytical, critical and syntopical.

This pedagogical work is so comprehensive, it will take forever to summarize the content. In short, this book is a must-read for any serious reader of the GREAT BOOKS of all times.

It can be regarded as a manual for lecturers/teachers/reviewers, or anybody who needs to discuss a serious book. Book clubs comes to mind here for those
نرمين الشامى
كتاب ذو مادة علمية ممتازة لكن مع الاسف ترجمته غير جيدة
الكتاب يتناول كل شئ عن القراءة فيناقش مستويات القراءة وهي مستويات متراكمة وليست منفصلة وهي القراءة الابتدائية ثم التفحصية ثم التحليلية ثم القراءات المتازمنة التعددية حول موضوع واحدوكل مستوى له عدة خطوات لتحقيقه
واوضح الفرق بين العلم والفلسفة والكتب النظرية والتطبيقية وكيف يمكن قراءة التاريخ والسير الذاتية والرياضيات والعلوم والفلسفة وكيفية الحكم على الكتب بشكل موضوعي

في النهاية الكتاب يعلمك كيف تقرأ كتابا وتستفيد منه الى اقصى حد
كتاب ممتع ومفي
My kids laughed at me when they saw I was getting a book about how to read a book. I'm an avid reader so I honestly didn't think I would get much from reading this, but I have to be honest, I usually don't remember much about what I read once I'm finished. This book teaches you how to get the most from books that are actually worth reading.

Some important points I gleaned:
- Not all books are worth reading well. Some are only worthy of a cursory read-through.
- A good book should move us from unde
Jay Liu
It changed the way I read books (I read primarily non-fiction). Reading is no longer just "look at every word until they are all seen," nor is it like a tape that plays from the beginning to the end. This book taught me the value of skimming books as a way of time management. From this, I also became better aware of how to connect with the author of a book, through using the 'tools' the author provides to help understand the content: everything from the table of contents, to the introduction, to ...more
Hesam Sedighi
کتاب حاوی نکات ذی قیمتی برای خواندن است .عمده ی کتاب به تشریح روشهای خواندن تحلیلی و تلفیقی می پردازد که با رویکردی انتقادی تحلیلی در صدد افزایش میزان فهم و درک در خواندن یک متن تشریحی است.
نویسنده ی کتاب مورتیمر جی ادلر است که جایی استاد ملکیان درباره ش گفته بود :
ایشان یک فیلسوف یهودی آمریکایی است که می گوید من در مدتی که سر ویراستار دائره المعارف بریتانیکا بودم دائره المعارفی با آن حجم که هر سه سال یکبار تجدید ویرایش میشود مجبور بودم که روزی 3هزار صفحه از این دایره المعارف را مطالعه کنم در طول
I read this book in the mid-seventies. I was in my early twenties I think. I had a voracious appetite for books. This volume really helped me organize the way that I read and helped me be discerning regarding what books to read.

One idea from the book that I still recall 30 years later is his discussion about teachers, dead and alive. Books were the dead teachers, but teachers nonetheless. And as a result of the published work, one could get to know the teacher if the work was of good quality and
Sebelum tu, aku nak promo; aku ada copyleft buku ni. Buku ni mesti dimiliki oleh setiap pembaca buku. Boleh hubungi aku di 0129611812 (sms/telegram/whatsapp)

Buku yang bagus. Aku tak sangka ada buku ni sebenarnya. Dan bila aku perasan, lama nenar aku mencari buku ni.

Dalam buku ni aku sudah praktikkan beberapa perkara, tapi aku tak perasan yang perkara itu aku praktikkan.

Buku ni wajar dibaca oleh anak-anak sekolah atau universiti untuk dapat membaca secara berkesan.
the gift
this is a later addition: in answer to the title question 'how to...' I must offer my considered reply, that might be buried, might be forgotten, might be so obvious no one ever states it. how? with joy, with pleasure, with desire, in whatever language, in translations, in genres, in history. to add to this, in personal claim: from a comfortable, shaded, breezy lanai of the condo facing the beach, listening to the surf, the wild chickens, the laughter of children in the pool...

first review: i re
It's not how much you read, but how well--and this book gives you specific, step-by-step techniques to get you to read as well as possible.

First of all, who would be so presumptuous as to advise fellow adults on how to read--a skill notionally possessed by everyone who's made it through public school? Well, Mortimer J. Adler, philosopher, longtime editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and moving force behind the Britannica Great Books of the Western World series; and Charles Van Doren, Adler's
د. حمدان
كيف تقرأ كتاباً مورتيمر أدلر

مورتيمر أدلر 1902-2001 هو فيلسوف وكاتب أمريكي شهير عمل محاضراً في عدة جامعات أمريكية وموسوعة بريتانيكا الشهيرة.

صدر هذا الكاتب في عام 1940.. وتصدر فوراً قائمة الكتب الأكثر مبيعاً.. وهو يستحق ذلك عن جدارة. ففي هذا الكتاب يشرح أدلر وبشكل علمي وموضوعي الغايات من القراءة والطرق التي من الممكن إستخدامها لتحصيل الفائدة المرجوة من فعل القراءة.

وقد تحدث الكتاب أيضاً.. عن النقد.. وكيفية تقييم الكتاب ونقدها بشكل علمي وموضوعي. ونجده وقد قسمّ القراءة إلى عدة مستويات تراكمية بحيث أن
Tedious,turgid, and torturous--

Thank God I've gained a few insights from this: the usefulness of inspectional reading and how to read poetry (which consists of reading it as fast as you can and rereading it aloud). Some thoughts on syntopical reading are somewhat interesting for anyone writing dissertations and theses, but not really for the average reader without a Ph.D. to pursue.

I thank God for the insights because otherwise I would've wasted all my time. I found 90% of the information simply
John Harder
Mortimer Adler is a pompous snob. This is why I like him. Old Mort (actually he is now dead Mort) takes us through various techniques of reading, with a focus on how to gather the most from a book in the most efficient manner. Depending in the circumstances and type of book a light skim might be best, others a lifetime of study.

Much of what Adler discusses is obvious but like with all things we sometimes get lazy and ignore the fundamentals.

I love how Mort says that in the history of man only ab
"Reading well, which means reading actively, is thus not only a good in itself, nor is it merely a means to advancement in our work or career. It also serves to keep our minds alive and growing." (p. 336).
This practical guide is about the Art of Reading. Highly recommended for readers who prefer quality over quantity.
رغد عبد الزهرة
الكتاب قيم للغاية
و ينبه لاشياء لم تكن تلفت انتباهك كقارئ معتاد على الكتب كما الطعام
عانيت ازمة صراحة بسببه و هبطت معنوياتي اذ بدا لي انني لست الا في المرحلة الأولى من القراءة
لكنه مع هذا مفيد للغاية و انصح بقرائته .
Skyler Myers
This book started interesting but quickly lost momentum with its constant reinforcement of simple points. Most of the book was wasted on my simply because the methods that it teaches are so time consuming that it would take at least a month to get through any book, a point which the author concedes to. Another problem with the method is that much of it is completely outdated with the onset of the Internet, such as the point about skimming through the book to get an idea of what it is about - a t ...more
I love this book. This is not to say that I bear it the kind of feeling that puts it on a shelf of 'All Time Classics', but I do have a certain affinity for it; it is the love of admiration.

As a life-long reader, I admit that I scoffed at the title. My children did too, along with complete strangers (I had more people approach me about this book than any other I have ever read). The reaction was always the same: a mixed incredulity that a person should read a book about how to read a book. Doesn
Apr 19, 2013 Zelda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
This is a tremendous personal victory for me for two reasons, the first of which has to do with the book itself and the second of which has to do with a concerted reallocation of time.

Ever since I first learned of the book's existence I understood that it was a book that I really SHOULD read. And I had an intention to read it. A desire to read it. And yet, I never read it. I did lots of other things that could have gone without doing. So, it really wasn't a matter of time. Celebrities got fat a
Helpful guide to reading books seriously and getting more out of what you read. Invaluable, now more than ever.
Natalie Zarowny
Oh "How to Read a Book"....never before have I had such a love/hate relationship with a book. On the one hand, this book made me feel like I'm extremely lazy if I don't annotate in an extremely complex way any non-fiction book I come across. On the other hand, the methods that I was forced to use on the fifteen or so books we read in AP Great Books senior year had an enormous impact at how I look at reading. As someone who has always had a passion for non-fiction, using Mortimer Adler's method f ...more
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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 Research.

Adler was born in N
More about Mortimer J. Adler...

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“True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.” 1413 likes
“....a good book can teach you about the world and about yourself. You learn more than how to read better; you also learn more about life. You become wiser. Not just more knowledgeable - books that provide nothing but information can produce that result. But wiser, in the sense that you are more deeply aware of the great and enduring truths of human life.” 96 likes
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