How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

I ‘m reading this amazing ledger again. I ‘ll be writing my notes for each chapter below ( It will be like a “ hunt explanation ” 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 adaptation after I ‘m done with the ledger.


Basically, How to Read a Book is a virtual book. It aims to help people become intelligent readers. To read intelligently means to read actively. To read actively means to r

I ‘m reading this amazing script again. I ‘ll be writing my notes for each chapter below ( It will be like a “ running report ” of my summary of and thoughts about every chapter ). so, be warned, this is going to be a very, very, very farseeing review. I hope I ‘ll be able to write a shorter version after I ‘m done with the reserve.


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 read skillfully. This means that reading is actually a skill ( in the same way that write is a skill ). It is an action. therefore, it is never passive voice. And, to read skillfully means to read not for information and amusement but for understanding. The authors propose that, in order to achieve this aim ( intelligent, active voice, nice reading ), readers must observe certain rules. These rules are discussed in detail throughout the reserve.

The book has 4 parts and 21 chapters. Part 1 ( The Dimensions of Reading ) talks about the nature and levels of reading. Part 2 ( The Third Level of Reading : analytic Reading ) talks about what analytic read is, how to go about reading a book analytically, and the general questions you must ask or the general rules you must observe when reading a book analytically. Part 3 ( Approaches to Different Kinds of Reading Matter ) talks about, well, the different approaches to different kinds of literature : expository books, imaginative literature, etc. Part 4 ( The Ultimate Goals of Reading ) talks about the fourth and highest level of reading — syntopical read.

Part One: The Dimensions of Reading

Chapter One: The Activity and Art of Reading

Adler and Van Doren says that recitation is an activeness. consequently, reading is active, not passive. He gives an analogy — baseball. Reading is like “ catching ” the ball in baseball. It is an active thing. And because it is active, it requires skill. This record aims to help readers develop that identical skill.

Adler says that there are different goals of take — information, amusement/ entertainment, and understanding. This book is chiefly concerned with the latter goal. thus, the goal of this script is to help readers learn how to read for increased sympathize. That means to read in order to move from understanding less to understanding more. That besides means reading in order to become knowing or enlightened.

The authors besides differentiate between reading for information and amusement, and reading for increased sympathy and nirvana. On the one hand, you are reading for information when, after reading the book, you are only able to express the facts in the book. On the early hand, you are reading for increased agreement and enlightenment when, after finishing the bible, you can state the things in the book and at the same time explain what they mean.

Adler and Van Doren says that books are like absent teachers. Books can teach us something ( they can help us increase our understanding about the populace ) although their authors may no longer be physically present. That ‘s bang-up news, because that means that we have entree to the greatest minds in the history of civilization !

Adler and Van Doren says that the finish of this book is to help readers learn the skills they need in regulate to become knowing, as opposed to being merely widely-read.


I love Adler ‘s baseball doctrine of analogy of read :

Pitcher/ hitter = Writer/ writer
Catcher = Reader
Ball = The ideas or data contained in the book

I besides like to be reminded that read ( at least, reading for increased understand, which is the main goal of this ledger ) is never passive. reading is active — it is an activeness. That is, it involves the performance of certain genial acts. And you should n’t take it for granted. When you read a book, you must allow it to influence or affect you.

however, I ‘m not certain if I agree with the authors when they say that our goal, if we wish to become intelligent and nice readers, is to read difficult books so that our understanding about things will increase. I mean, can we not read books that are entertaining ( and consequently comfortable to read ) but can besides increase our understanding about life and the world ?

I love the mind about books being “ absent teachers ” ! That ‘s an amazing opinion, is n’t it ? That means that, as readers, we still have access to the greatest minds in homo history ! We can silent “ approach ” them and allow them to teach us, even if they are no longer with us physically. We can “ go to ” Plato, Aristotle or Aquinas and “ baby-sit at their feet ” while they “ call on the carpet ” us about their philosophy.

Lastly, I love Adler ‘s differentiation between being well-read and being widely-read. I agree with him that our goal should be to become well read and not merely widely-read.

Chapter two: The Levels of Reading

Adler and Van Doren talks about the different levels of read :

1. elementary read
2. Inspectional interpretation
3. analytic take
4. Syntopical read

Elementary read asks the question, “ What is the conviction saying, and what do the words hateful ? ” Inspectional read asks, “ What is the book about as a hale ? What is its structure ? What are its parts ? ” analytic learn asks, “ What is the author saying ? What does he mean ? What are his arguments ? Are they true ? So what ? ” And syntopical read asks, “ Given all these books/ literature about this particular subject or offspring, what analysis or conclusion can I make ? ”

These levels are accumulative, so a reader can not master the highest flat of interpretation ( syntopical interpretation ) without first mastering elementary, inspectional, and analytic read.


I like how the authors break down the skill of reading into levels. It ‘s very helpful.

Our ultimate finish should be syntopical reading.

Chapter three: The First Level of Reading: Elementary Reading

Basically, Adler and Van Doren says that elementary interpretation has four stages : reading readiness, son mastery or the ability to understand basic words, rapid growth of vocabulary, and the further polish of these skills.

A child has to go through each of the above stages in arrange to master this learn charge. This does not happen quickly. In fact, it takes years of drill. It starts during nursery or thereabouts, when the child becomes quick physically and intellectually to read. then the child goes through his elementary years and learns to read basic books. During these years, the child ‘s vocabulary grows and he begins to develop his reason of context. then, during his high school years, he far develops and refines his interpretation skills.

Ideally, by the prison term the child reaches high school, he should be able to read books analytically.


I can honestly say that I have n’t even very mastered this basic interpretation flush. My vocabulary is in truth not that across-the-board or deep, and sometimes I find it hard to understand the context of a given conviction, particularly if the book I ‘m reading is progress or tertiary-level.

Chapter four: The Second Level of Reading: Inspectional Reading

Adler and Van Doren talks about the second grade of read — inspectional reading. Inspectional reading involves two steps : taxonomic skim or pre-reading and superficial read.

Systematic skimming involves several steps :

— Look at the book ‘s title and subtitle ( if any ) ;
— Read the precede ;
— Look at the mesa of contents ;
— Look at the index ; take note of the topics and authors discussed in the bible ;
— Read the compendious at the end of the record or at the end of each chapter ;
— Read the first few lines of each open paragraph of every chapter ;
— Read the publisher ‘s endorsement.

Superficial reading involves browsing the pages of the book slowly but superficially — scanning every page casually.

Adler and Van Doren says that inspectional reading achieves two things : It helps you know whether the book is, for you personally, worthy of being read analytically or not ; and, it gives you a general estimate of the book which is useful for your future reference.

The authors say that there is in truth no such thing as a standard understand travel rapidly. ideally, you should plainly adjust your focal ratio according to the script ‘s trouble.

They besides talk about read fixations and regressions — people ‘s tendency to not read the book straight through without interruptions. They say these two things harm our reading because they prevent us from understanding the effect of the book. They suggest that we should use “ markers ” or “ pointers ” when we read — this can be a playpen or our finger. This increases our reading speed and inclusion importantly. besides, they say that we do n’t have to understand everything about the book mighty away. What ‘s important is that we continue reading ( without fixations and regressions ) and make an attempt to understand the effect of the book even if we do n’t understand what the writer is saying 100 %.


I love this recitation level ! Basically, the idea here is that not all books that are available out there deserve to be read analytically. Majority of them are worth an inspectional take merely. And inspectional reading is very, very utilitarian. If you follow its steps, you will have a cosmopolitan idea of what the book is about — you ‘ll know what kind of a book it is ( whether it ‘s a work of fabrication or non-fiction, etc. ), what its subject matter is, what its structure/outline is, and what its main arguments are.

besides, when you read a ledger inspectionally, you will be in a better military position to decide whether the book is in truth that interesting or relevant for you and whether it is truly worthy of your clock and campaign to read analytically, or whether you should equitable set it aside for future citation.

Adler and Van Doren ‘s trace to use the finger as a “ pointer ” while read is besides very helpful.

Chapter five: How to Be a Demanding Reader

I think this chapter is a training for analytic read, which is discussed in character 2.

Adler and Van Doren says that in regulate to become an intelligent or skilled proofreader, you must be demanding in your take. That is to say, you should make the campaign to read and understand what you ‘re reading. You must be motivated by the hope to enlighten yourself, to increase your understanding about matters.

Furthermore, to become a demanding or active reader, you must ask questions while you read. What sorts of questions ?

These four, by and large :

1. What is the koran about as a solid ?
2. What is being said in detail and how ?
3. Is it true ?
4. What of it ?

These are besides the four questions you ask when you are reading a book analytically. They are applicable to any type of bible ( fabrication or non-fiction ), but when it comes to works of imaginative literature, like novels, poems, or plays, these four questions are altered a bit.

Of course, you should n’t simply ask these questions, you must besides do your best to answer them. The beginning question helps you know the script ‘s type and subject matter. The second base interrogate helps you know the book ‘s structure, outline, and its main parts and arguments. The third gear doubt helps you know whether the generator is right field or not, or whether his arguments are dependable or not. And the one-fourth question helps you know what the book ‘s significance and implication is to your life.

Adler and Van Doren besides says that we must make the ledger “ our own ”. When we buy a reserve, it does n’t automatically become ours. That is merely the beginning step. The moment step is to read the record and “ interact ” with the author ‘s ideas by writing on the reserve or making marks on its significant sentences or paragraph.

The authors besides say that, basically, in rate to develop the skill of intelligent read, you must ask questions and obey those four general rules. Rules are inevitably because they give us structure and help us discipline our read. At foremost, remembering and observing these rules may be very challenge, but that is equitable convention. Any skill is unmanageable to learn at first, but with habit it becomes easier.


I loved this chapter !

Basically, the above four questions lie at the very kernel of analytic understand. That is, when we read a reserve analytically, we always ask those four questions and do our best to answer them.

I love the estimate of “ making a book our own ”. That ‘s very true. We should n’t fear marking our book. We must “ converse ” with the author ‘s ideas. The more we do this, the more the cognition and insights will stick to us, so that, after answering all those questions at the end of the book, a partially of us is already in the book, and a bang-up depart of the book is now in us ( or, in our minds, at least ).

I just find the four questions very helpful. They guide me and provide structure to my read. besides, they remind me that books are very, identical crucial. necessity, even. So we should n’t take them for granted. We should n’t read them casually, specially if we ‘re reading for understanding. We should allow them to influence and affect us. For model, after reading an apologetic book like reasonable Faith by the Christian philosopher William Lane Craig, we should n’t just set it aside and act as if nothing happened and nothing changed. We should rather ask ourselves, “ Is what William Lane Craig saying true ? Are his arguments truly good ? Does God truly exist ? If therefore, what are its implications to my life ? What is its meaning ? What part of my mentality, brain, philosophy, or worldview should I change, as a solution of agreeing or disagreeing with Dr. Craig ? ”


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