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How to Read a Book - Mortimer J. Adler
eBook Published: 10th May 2011
ISBN: 9781439144831
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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.

A CNN Book of the Week: “Explains not just why we should read books, but how we should read them. It's masterfully done.” –Farheed Zakaria

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.

Industry Reviews

"These four hundred pages are packed full of high matters which no one solicitous of the future of American culture can afford to overlook."


CONTENTS

Preface

PART ONE

THE DIMENSIONS OF READING

1. The Activity and Art of Reading

Active Reading

The Goals of Reading: Reading for Information and Reading for Understanding

Reading as Learning: The Difference Between Learning by Instruction and Learning by Discovery

Present and Absent Teachers


2. The Levels of Reading

3. The First Level of Reading: Elementary Reading

Stages of Learning to Read

Stages and Levels

Higher Levels of Reading and Higher Education

Reading and the Democratic Ideal of Education


4. The Second Level of Reading: Inspectional Reading

Inspectional Reading I Systematic Skimming or Prereading

Inspectional Reading II: Superficial Reading

On Reading Speeds

Fixations and Regressions

The Problem of Comprehension

Summary of Inspectional Reading


5. How to Be a Demanding Reader

The Essence of Active Reading: The Four Basic Questions a Reader Asks

How to Make a Book Your Own

The Three Kinds of Note-making

Forming the Habit of Reading

From Many Rules to One Habit


PART TWO

THE THIRD LEVEL OF READING: ANALYTICAL READING

6. Pigeonholing a Book

The Importance of Classifying Books

What You Can Learn from the Title of a Book

Practical vs. Theoretical Books

Kinds of Theoretical Books


7. X-raying a Book

Of Plots and Plans: Stating the Unity of a Book

Mastering the Multiplicity: The Art of Outlining a Book

The Reciprocal Arts of Reading and Writing

Discovering the Author's Intentions

The First Stage of Analytical Reading


8. Coming to Terms with an Author

Words vs. Terms

Finding the Key Words

Technical Words and Special Vocabularies

Finding the Meanings


9. Determining an Author's Message

Sentences vs. Propositions

Finding the Key Sentences

Finding the Propositions

Finding the Arguments

Finding the Solutions

The Second Stage of Analytical Reading


10. Criticizing a Book Fairly

Teachability as a Virtue

The Role of Rhetoric

The Importance of Suspending Judgment

The Importance of Avoiding Contentiousness

On the Resolution of Disagreements


11. Agreeing or Disagreeing with an Author

Prejudice and Judgment

Judging the Author's Soundness

Judging the Author's Completeness

The Third Stage of Analytical Reading


12. Aids to Reading

The Role of Relevant Experience

Other Books as Extrinsic Aids to Reading

How to Use Commentaries and Abstracts

How to Use Reference Books

How to Use a Dictionary

How to Use an Encyclopedia


PART THREE

APPROACHES TO DIFFERENT KINDS OF READING MATTER

13. How to Read Practical Books

The Two Kinds of Practical Books

The Role of Persuasion

What Does Agreement Entail in the Case of a Practical Book?


14. How to Read Imaginative Literature

How Not to Read Imaginative Literature

General Rules for Reading Imaginative Literature


15. Suggestions for Reading Stories, Plays, and Poems

How to Read Stories

A Note About Epics

How to Read Plays

A Note About Tragedy

How to Read Lyric Poetry


16. How to Read History

The Elusiveness of Historical Facts

Theories of History

The Universal in History

Questions to Ask of a Historical Book

How to Read Biography and Autobiography

How to Read About Current Events

A Note on Digests


17. How to Read Science and Mathematics

Understanding the Scientific Enterprise

Suggestions for Reading Classical Scientific Books

Facing the Problem of Mathematics

Handling the Mathematics in Scientific Books

A Note on Popular Science


18. How to Read Philosophy

The Questions Philosophers Ask

Modern Philosophy and the Great Tradition

On Philosophical Method

On Philosophical Styles

Hints for Reading Philosophy

On Making Up Your Own Mind

A Note on Theology

How to Read "Canonical" Books


19. How to Read Social Science

What Is Social Science?

The Apparent Ease of Reading Social Science

Difficulties of Reading Social Science

Reading Social Science Literature


PART FOUR

THE ULTIMATE GOALS OF READING

20. The Fourth Level of Reading: Syntopical Reading

The Role of Inspection in Syntopical Reading

The Five Steps in Syntopical Reading

The Need for Objectivity

An Example of an Exercise in Syntopical Reading: The Idea of Progress

The Syntopicon and How to Use It

On the Principles That Underlie Syntopical Reading

Summary of Syntopical Reading


21. Reading and the Growth of the Mind

What Good Books Can Do for Us

The Pyramid of Books

The Life and Growth of the Mind


Appendix A. A Recommended Reading List

Appendix B. Exercises and Tests at the Four Levels of Reading

Index
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ISBN: 9781439144831
ISBN-10: 1439144834
Audience: General
Format: ePUB
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 426
Published: 10th May 2011
Publisher: Touchstone