How to Read a Book

How to Read a Book

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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 reading, through systematic skimming and inspectional reading, to speed reading. Readers will learn when and how to "judge a book by its cover," and also how to X-ray it, read critically, and extract the author's message from the text. Also included is instruction in the different techniques that work best for reading particular genres, such as practical books, imaginative literature, plays, poetry, history, science and mathematics, philosophy and social science works. Finally, the authors offer a recommended reading list and supply reading tests you can use measure your own progress in reading skills, comprehension, and speed.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 426 pages
  • 134.62 x 208.28 x 30.48mm | 294.83g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised
  • Revised and Updated ed.
  • 0671212095
  • 9780671212094
  • 1,652

Review quote

"'There is the book; and here is your mind.' Adler and Van Doren's suggestions on how to connect the two will make you nostalgic for a slower, more earnest, less trivial time." -- Anne Fadiman "It shows concretely how the serious work of proper reading may be accomplished and how much it may yield in the way of instruction and delight." * The New Yorker * "These four hundred pages are packed full of high matters which no one solicitous of the future of American culture can afford to overlook." -- Jacques Barzun
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Table of contents

CONTENTSPrefacePART ONETHE DIMENSIONS OF READING1. The Activity and Art of ReadingActive ReadingThe Goals of Reading: Reading for Information and Reading for UnderstandingReading as Learning: The Difference Between Learning by Instruction and Learning by DiscoveryPresent and Absent Teachers2. The Levels of Reading3. The First Level of Reading: Elementary ReadingStages of Learning to ReadStages and LevelsHigher Levels of Reading and Higher EducationReading and the Democratic Ideal of Education4. The Second Level of Reading: Inspectional ReadingInspectional Reading I Systematic Skimming or PrereadingInspectional Reading II: Superficial ReadingOn Reading SpeedsFixations and RegressionsThe Problem of ComprehensionSummary of Inspectional Reading5. How to Be a Demanding ReaderThe Essence of Active Reading: The Four Basic Questions a Reader AsksHow to Make a Book Your OwnThe Three Kinds of Note-makingForming the Habit of ReadingFrom Many Rules to One HabitPART TWOTHE THIRD LEVEL OF READING: ANALYTICAL READING6. Pigeonholing a BookThe Importance of Classifying BooksWhat You Can Learn from the Title of a BookPractical vs. Theoretical BooksKinds of Theoretical Books7. X-raying a BookOf Plots and Plans: Stating the Unity of a BookMastering the Multiplicity: The Art of Outlining a BookThe Reciprocal Arts of Reading and WritingDiscovering the Author's IntentionsThe First Stage of Analytical Reading8. Coming to Terms with an AuthorWords vs. TermsFinding the Key WordsTechnical Words and Special VocabulariesFinding the Meanings9. Determining an Author's MessageSentences vs. PropositionsFinding the Key SentencesFinding the PropositionsFinding the ArgumentsFinding the SolutionsThe Second Stage of Analytical Reading10. Criticizing a Book FairlyTeachability as a VirtueThe Role of RhetoricThe Importance of Suspending JudgmentThe Importance of Avoiding ContentiousnessOn the Resolution of Disagreements11. Agreeing or Disagreeing with an AuthorPrejudice and JudgmentJudging the Author's SoundnessJudging the Author's CompletenessThe Third Stage of Analytical Reading12. Aids to ReadingThe Role of Relevant ExperienceOther Books as Extrinsic Aids to ReadingHow to Use Commentaries and AbstractsHow to Use Reference BooksHow to Use a DictionaryHow to Use an EncyclopediaPART THREEAPPROACHES TO DIFFERENT KINDS OF READING MATTER13. How to Read Practical BooksThe Two Kinds of Practical BooksThe Role of PersuasionWhat Does Agreement Entail in the Case of a Practical Book?14. How to Read Imaginative LiteratureHow Not to Read Imaginative LiteratureGeneral Rules for Reading Imaginative Literature15. Suggestions for Reading Stories, Plays, and PoemsHow to Read StoriesA Note About EpicsHow to Read PlaysA Note About TragedyHow to Read Lyric Poetry16. How to Read HistoryThe Elusiveness of Historical FactsTheories of HistoryThe Universal in HistoryQuestions to Ask of a Historical BookHow to Read Biography and AutobiographyHow to Read About Current EventsA Note on Digests17. How to Read Science and MathematicsUnderstanding the Scientific EnterpriseSuggestions for Reading Classical Scientific BooksFacing the Problem of MathematicsHandling the Mathematics in Scientific BooksA Note on Popular Science18. How to Read PhilosophyThe Questions Philosophers AskModern Philosophy and the Great TraditionOn Philosophical MethodOn Philosophical StylesHints for Reading PhilosophyOn Making Up Your Own MindA Note on TheologyHow to Read "Canonical" Books19. How to Read Social ScienceWhat Is Social Science?The Apparent Ease of Reading Social ScienceDifficulties of Reading Social ScienceReading Social Science LiteraturePART FOURTHE ULTIMATE GOALS OF READING20. The Fourth Level of Reading: Syntopical ReadingThe Role of Inspection in Syntopical ReadingThe Five Steps in Syntopical ReadingThe Need for ObjectivityAn Example of an Exercise in Syntopical Reading: The Idea of ProgressThe Syntopicon and How to Use ItOn the Principles That Underlie Syntopical ReadingSummary of Syntopical Reading21. Reading and the Growth of the MindWhat Good Books Can Do for UsThe Pyramid of BooksThe Life and Growth of the MindAppendix A. A Recommended Reading ListAppendix B. Exercises and Tests at the Four Levels of ReadingIndex0
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About Mortimer J. Adler

Dr. Mortimer J. Adler was Chairman of the Board of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Director of the Institute for Philosophical Research, Honorary Trustee of the Aspen Institute, and authored more than fifty books. He died in 2001. Dr. Charles Van Doren earned advanced degrees in both literature and mathematics from Columbia University, where he later taught English and was the Assistant Director of the Institute for Philosophical Research. He also worked for Encyclopedia Britannica in Chicago.
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Rating details

10,784 ratings
3.99 out of 5 stars
5 38% (4,062)
4 35% (3,752)
3 20% (2,104)
2 6% (615)
1 2% (251)
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