Mike Knox's Reviews > How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler
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M 50x66
's review
Jul 12, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction

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 have to be simultaneously engaged at levels 1 and 2. The analytical level receives the most attention by far, elementary the least (for those wanting help increasing reading speeds, look elsewhere).

One of the signs of good thinking is careful distinctions. This book introduced me to helpful distinctions between knowledge and understanding, aided and un-aided research, terms and words, practical and theoretical books, good and great books, and many more.

For years I have attempted to read book somewhat “analytically”, but often grew frustrated at the difficulty in outlining certain books. So I cheered when the authors suggested that sometimes that’s because the book isn’t worth reading at any level, never mind analytically.

This quote from p.166 gives the flavor of the book well: “A person who has read widely but not well deserves to be pitied rather than praised. As Thomas Hobbes said, ‘If I read as many books as most men do, I would be as dull-witted as they are.’”
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
June 10, 2009 – Finished Reading
July 12, 2009 – Shelved
July 12, 2009 – Shelved as: non-fiction

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by J.P. (new)

J.P. Bary Good quote: Really sums up their philosophy!

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