How to Read a Book

Topics: If You Have to Ask, Question, Charles Van Doren Pages: 3 (892 words) Published: August 29, 2011
Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren
One reader is better than another in proportion as he is capable of a greater range of activity in reading and exerts more effort. He is better if he demands more of himself and of the text before him. If you remember what an author says, you have learned something from reading him. If what he says is true, you have even learned something about the world. But whether it is a fact about the book or a fact about the world that you have learned, you have gained nothing but information if you have exercised only your memory. You have not been enlightened. Enlightenment is achieved only when, in addition to knowing what an author says, you know what he means and why he says it. First level of Reading: Elementary Reading

Second level of Reading: Inspectional Reading
Give us an overall idea of what the book is about. We should know whether the book contains matter what you still want to dig out, or whether it deserves no more of our time and attention. The rule to tackle a difficult book: In tackling a difficult book for the first time, read it through without even stopping to look up for ponder the things you do not understand right away. We will have a much better chance of understanding it on a second reading, but that requires you to have read the book through at least one. A good speed in reading should enable you to vary your rate of reading in accordance with the nature and complexity of the material. There is no single right speed at which you should read; the ability to read at various speeds and to know when each speed is appropriate is the ideal. How to be A Demanding Reader:

The Essence of Active Reading: The Four Basic Questions a reader asks Ask questions while you read-questions that you yourself must try to answer in the course of reading. 1. What is the book about as a whole? You must try to discover the leading theme of the book, and how the author develops this theme in an orderly...
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