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

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  5,104 ratings  ·  600 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

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Paperback, Completely Revised and Updated, 426 pages
Published August 15th 1972 by Simon & Schuster, Inc (first published January 1st 1972)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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.

Right?

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...more
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. ...more
Paul
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...more
Dante
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.

Overview

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...more
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...more
booklady
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...more
Jeremiah
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
مهند
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...more
Natasha
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
Sasha Martinez
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....more
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
travelgirlut
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...more
Mikol
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...more
Paul
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...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
...more
Zelda
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...more
Pavel Kalugin
Написал большой пост об эффективном чтении книг на основе этой книги Адлера и собственного опыта чтения http://pavelkalugin.ru/2011/04/25/pravila-chteniya/.
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
John
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...more
Knar   Avetisyan
How to Read a Book opens by making a very clear distinction between reading strictly for pleasure and reading in order to gain knowledge or understanding. The truth is that they require different skills – you might read an enjoyable novel just before bed, but you’re not really learning anything from it. On the other hand, you might read some dense literature or nonfiction in order to learn about yourself as well as gain additional knowledge. The latter is significantly harder – and it’s somethin...more
Mike Knox
This book promotes reading as an active art. The goal of reading ought to be more than increased knowledge; rather, it strives for increased understanding. Thus the authors can talk about reading as a form of research, elevating the task of reading far above its stereotype of passivity.

The authors describe four ascending levels of reading: (1) Elementary; (2) Inspectional; (3) Analytical; and (4) Syntopical. The levels are cumulative in the sense that, if you are to read at say level 3, you will...more
Greg Talbot
At 26, I don't feel a bit silly thumbing through "How to Read a Book", I think it's rock solid advice to anyone who wants to improve their reading skills. I imagine an audience in formative years or more established readers were learn a lot from a book like this.

Goodreads readers, we probably read a lot, and quicky. The question we should be mindful of is if we are choosing to read wisely. If we take the perspective as Adler and Van Doren do, that reading is always a conversation, how well are...more
Pj
I would have liked this more if I had read it 10-15 years ago. There is alot of good material in the book. What held me back was that I, as an avid reader, already do a great amount of what they say to do. The best analogy I can find would be Penn and Teller being asked to read a book called How to Do Magic.

I thought Adler and Van Doren repeated themselves too often. This may be a good device for getting your message across, but over 400 pages the reader should be excused for losing patience.

I...more
Taka
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...more
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...more
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
Wendy
I can see where this would be useful for the beginner. It should probably be required reading for high schoolers--this would've been so useful for classes!

But this book wasn't for me. I already knew a lot of this stuff and do it, either unconsciously or consciously. Other things I just plain disagreed with. And no, that doesn't mean the authors committed a logical fallacy (one of the things I disagreed with. Both writer and reader can be completely right but still disagree on the more complicate...more
Игорь Емельянов
Начать следует с ошеломительного утверждения: мы не умеем читать. Вы не умеете читать книги, этого не умею делать я и ваш преподаватель по литературе. Наверное, каждый из нас замечал, как читая какую-нибудь книгу, мысленно отвлекался, а через несколько страниц понимал, что только что занимался фоновым чтением, ничего не поняв и не запомнив. Примерно так и выглядит ваше сегодняшнее чтение по сравнению с тем способом чтения, о котором говорится в книге Мортимера Адлера.
Читать дальше...
umberto
I used to read its first edition by Professor Adler in my college years some 40 years ago. The title looks simple, basic or primary to some people who have not yet read this fantastic, practical and authoritative manual for good readers.
In short, this book should provide scholarly ways of reading toward true readers in universities and beyond. Highly recommended to all scholars who love reading, it will change your reading life for ever.
Ben Pace
This book is an enjoyable artefact of its time, and also contains a lovely discussion of books. I also learnt how to truly engage a book, although that method can be read in under two minutes here: http://lesswrong.com/lw/dao/how_to_re...

The book is still enjoyable however. To be considered as a fiction, due to its light but slightly compelling nature.
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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
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“True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.” 1344 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.” 74 likes
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