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How to Read a Book

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  11,553 Ratings  ·  1,289 Reviews
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 r
ebook, 426 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Touchstone (first published 1940)
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Richard Kolivoski Yes. Bear with it for a while. All the advice will begin to come together and you will begin to read deeply.

If you read for entertainment, this book…more
Yes. Bear with it for a while. All the advice will begin to come together and you will begin to read deeply.

If you read for entertainment, this book will not help much. It is only powerful when you are tackling books that are content rich.(less)
Claire 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)
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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
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
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
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: overrated, lit-crit
Who This Book is (not) For

It focuses mainly on reading expositional, rather than imaginative material. It was written in 1940, and revised in 1972, though it looks and feels more like a 40s book.

I read it in the hope of becoming a more analytical reader who could go on to write more coherent, concise, and original reviews. It didn’t help.

This may once have been a good book. Had I read it as an undergraduate, I may even have found bits of it slightly useful. As a middle-aged fiction reader in th
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
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I heard about this book in a casual conversation and my interest was piqued. When I heard that the book instructs on analytical reading I knew I had to read it.

I have decided that I am not going to summarize the rules enunciated in this book. Instead I would keep my review short.

In the first chapter the authors have mentioned that “…… this book is about the art of reading for the sake of increased understanding.” The authors have clearly stated that the book intends to help people understand e
Roy Lotz
The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.

I had a lot of fun holding this book upside-down on the subway with a puzzled look on my face.

For much of his remarkably long life, Mortimer Adler was the leading proponent of the ‘Great Books’ paradigm of education. Under his leadership, the Encyclopedia Britannica published the 54-volume Great Books of the Western World (1952) as well as the Gateway to the Great Books (1963)—which, consider
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
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
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Zahra Dashti
جوانتر که بودم ، اغلب داستانها و کتابهایی که می خواندم به یادم می ماند. شاید به سبب اثرگذاری کتابها ، به ویژه داستانها، در ذهن جوان و پر شور و نگاه کودکانه و پر شگفتی به دنیا بود.شاید هم این حقیقت که در دوران کودکی و نوجوانی و ابتدای جوانی ، تمرکز انسان ، به دلیل کم بودن مشغله های ذهنی ، بسیار زیاد و متمرکز بر روی یک موضوع در واحد زمان است. در هر حال کم کم که سن و سال بالاتر رفت از میزان دقت یاد آوری آنچه در کتابها می خواندم کم شد تا جایی که داستانی که ماه پیش می خواندم را فراموش می کردم. مشکل ا ...more
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
May 26, 2013: 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 mov
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: partially-read
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
نرمين الشامي
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 المتزامنة 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
Naim AlKalantani
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.
رغد قاسم
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 .
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
Apr 13, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
هذا الكتاب يُعد كتاباً تطبيقياً حيث يتضمن القواعد اللازم اتباعها عند قراءة كل كتاب وفقا لتصنيفه
و تذكرت مقولة للكاتبة "فرجينيا وولف"
النصيحة الوحيدة التي تستطيع أن تسديها لشخص آخر حول القراءة هى أن لا تتبع أى نصيحة وعليك أن تتبع حواسك وتستخدم عقلك وتتوصل الى استنتاجاتك الخاصة "
كم نحن بحاجة أن نتنبه إننا لسنا بصدد معركة فكرية نثبت فيها انتصارنا وهزيمة الكاتب وأن نلتزم بالنقد المهذب اللائق عندما نقبل على اصدار حكماً نقدياً بشأن كتابه ..
عن قراءة الكتب التفسيرية تستلزم جهدا من القارىء للفهم ولا بأس
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Helpful guide to reading books seriously and getting more out of what you read. Invaluable, now more than ever.
Aug 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
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
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
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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
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“True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.” 1491 likes
“Reading list (1972 edition)[edit]
1. Homer – Iliad, Odyssey
2. The Old Testament
3. Aeschylus – Tragedies
4. Sophocles – Tragedies
5. Herodotus – Histories
6. Euripides – Tragedies
7. Thucydides – History of the Peloponnesian War
8. Hippocrates – Medical Writings
9. Aristophanes – Comedies
10. Plato – Dialogues
11. Aristotle – Works
12. Epicurus – Letter to Herodotus; Letter to Menoecus
13. Euclid – Elements
14. Archimedes – Works
15. Apollonius of Perga – Conic Sections
16. Cicero – Works
17. Lucretius – On the Nature of Things
18. Virgil – Works
19. Horace – Works
20. Livy – History of Rome
21. Ovid – Works
22. Plutarch – Parallel Lives; Moralia
23. Tacitus – Histories; Annals; Agricola Germania
24. Nicomachus of Gerasa – Introduction to Arithmetic
25. Epictetus – Discourses; Encheiridion
26. Ptolemy – Almagest
27. Lucian – Works
28. Marcus Aurelius – Meditations
29. Galen – On the Natural Faculties
30. The New Testament
31. Plotinus – The Enneads
32. St. Augustine – On the Teacher; Confessions; City of God; On Christian Doctrine
33. The Song of Roland
34. The Nibelungenlied
35. The Saga of Burnt Njál
36. St. Thomas Aquinas – Summa Theologica
37. Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy;The New Life; On Monarchy
38. Geoffrey Chaucer – Troilus and Criseyde; The Canterbury Tales
39. Leonardo da Vinci – Notebooks
40. Niccolò Machiavelli – The Prince; Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy
41. Desiderius Erasmus – The Praise of Folly
42. Nicolaus Copernicus – On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres
43. Thomas More – Utopia
44. Martin Luther – Table Talk; Three Treatises
45. François Rabelais – Gargantua and Pantagruel
46. John Calvin – Institutes of the Christian Religion
47. Michel de Montaigne – Essays
48. William Gilbert – On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodies
49. Miguel de Cervantes – Don Quixote
50. Edmund Spenser – Prothalamion; The Faerie Queene
51. Francis Bacon – Essays; Advancement of Learning; Novum Organum, New Atlantis
52. William Shakespeare – Poetry and Plays
53. Galileo Galilei – Starry Messenger; Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences
54. Johannes Kepler – Epitome of Copernican Astronomy; Concerning the Harmonies of the World
55. William Harvey – On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals; On the Circulation of the Blood; On the Generation of Animals
56. Thomas Hobbes – Leviathan
57. René Descartes – Rules for the Direction of the Mind; Discourse on the Method; Geometry; Meditations on First Philosophy
58. John Milton – Works
59. Molière – Comedies
60. Blaise Pascal – The Provincial Letters; Pensees; Scientific Treatises
61. Christiaan Huygens – Treatise on Light
62. Benedict de Spinoza – Ethics
63. John Locke – Letter Concerning Toleration; Of Civil Government; Essay Concerning Human Understanding;Thoughts Concerning Education
64. Jean Baptiste Racine – Tragedies
65. Isaac Newton – Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy; Optics
66. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz – Discourse on Metaphysics; New Essays Concerning Human Understanding;Monadology
67. Daniel Defoe – Robinson Crusoe
68. Jonathan Swift – A Tale of a Tub; Journal to Stella; Gulliver's Travels; A Modest Proposal
69. William Congreve – The Way of the World
70. George Berkeley – Principles of Human Knowledge
71. Alexander Pope – Essay on Criticism; Rape of the Lock; Essay on Man
72. Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu – Persian Letters; Spirit of Laws
73. Voltaire – Letters on the English; Candide; Philosophical Dictionary
74. Henry Fielding – Joseph Andrews; Tom Jones
75. Samuel Johnson – The Vanity of Human Wishes; Dictionary; Rasselas; The Lives of the Poets”
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