{Download Kindle} º How to Read a Book ¹ eBook or Kindle ePUB free

{Download Kindle} Ä How to Read a Book õ How to Read a Book, originally published in , has become a rare phenomenon, a living classic It is the best and most successful guide to reading comprehension for the general reader And now it has been completely rewritten and updatedYou are told about the various levels of reading and how to achieve them – from elementary reading, through systematic skimming and inspectional reading, to speed reading, you learn how to pigeonhole a book, Xray it, extract the author's message, criticize You are taught the different reading techniques for reading practical books, imaginative literature, plays, poetry, history, science and mathematics, philosophy and social scienceFinally, the authors offer a recommended reading list and supply reading tests whereby you can measure your own progress in reading skills, comprehension and speedThis a previouslypublished edition of ISBN I read this book because I live by the mantra, Life is ShortRead Fast and I hoped it would teach me how to read faster Instead it teaches you to read slower, analytically It also teaches you how to date a bookto decide if you really want to spend the time to read the whole thing before commiting yourself to it This book has a rather pedantic tone, which makes it a little dry to plow through But I kept at it because there were philosophical gems interspersed throughout the pages One of my favorite of which follows:“But if the book belongs to the highest class—the very small number of inexhaustible books—you discover on returning that the book seems to have grown with you You see new things in it—whole sets of new things—that you did not see before Your previous understanding of the book in not invalidated; it is just as true as it ever was, and in the same ways that it was true before But now it is true in still other ways, too Since it is a really good book—a great book, as we might say— it is accessible at different levels Your impression of increased understanding on your previous reading was not false The book truly lifted you then But now, even though you have become wiser andknowledgeable, it can lift you again And it will go on doing this until you die.” (p 343) How do you read a book?Look at the cover, probably glance at the blurb; run your eye down the table of contents, perhaps; possibly rifle through the book then plunge right in into Chapter One.Right?Wrong! According to Mortimer J Adler and Charles Van Doren, the authors of How to Read a Book.According to them, this is only the first level of reading, called “Elementary” reading: and this is the only level the majority of readers in this world have reached They posit threelevels: “Inspectional”, “Analytical” and “Syntopic”, each oneadvanced than the previous The major portion of the book is devoted to analytic reading, followed by brief exposition on the syntopic It is the aim of the authors to make each reader of this tome into an analytic reader at least, if not a syntopic one: it is my opinion that they only succeed partially, but let’s go into that after analysing each of the levels as defined by the authors.Elementary reading we have already seen In inspectional reading, you first skim the book as a whole; give it a “onceover”, as it is The authors, ever practical, suggest six steps to do this – most of them selfevident and what any serious reader usually does with an expository book (this book is mostly about reading expository material and of limited value in reading literature and poetry, butabout that later) The steps are:1 Read the title and the preface2 Study the table of contents3 Check the index4 Read the blurb5 Look at the main chapters6 Skim the book, reading it here and thereNext, read the book through fast, without getting stuck at the difficult places If the book deserves our serious attention, we can come back to those difficult places in our next reading The advantage of this “rapidfire” approach is that we do not waste time on a book which deserves only a superficial reading In the authors’ own words: “Every book should be read noslowly than it deserves, and noquickly than you can read it with satisfaction and comprehension.”Analytical ReadingThe next level, analytical reading, requires the reader to be demanding: theyou demand, theyou can extract out of a book To do this, one has to ask four questions:1 What is the book about, as a whole?2 What is being said in detail, and how?3 Is the book true, in whole or part?4 What of it?How ask these four questions is explained in detail, in the remaining part of the book.Analytical reading has three stages The first one is mainly concerned with classifying the book, and understanding its aim and structure To do this, the authors suggest four rules.1 You must know what kind of book you are reading, and you should know as early in the process as possible, preferably before you begin to read.2 State the unity of the whole book in a single sentence, or at most a few sentences (a short paragraph).3 Set forth the major parts of the book, and show how these are organised into a whole, by being ordered to one another and to the unity of the whole.4 Find out what the author’s problems were.The first rule classifies (“pigeonholes”) the book, by affixing it to a category, genre, etc.: the second is used to create a précis: the third expands the précis into an outline, thus revealing the underlying structure (“XRaying” the book, as the authors name it) and the fourth defines the purpose of the book The author presumably wrote it for a reason: he had some questions at the beginning, which he has presumably tried to answer through the book The reader has to find out what these questions are.If the first stage of analytical reading is related to the what , the second is related to the how ; how has the author attempted to solve the problem with which he started out For this stage also, Adler and Van Doren proposes four rules.1 Come to terms with the author by interpreting his key words.2 Grasp the author’s leading propositions by dealing with his most important sentences 3 Know the author’s arguments by finding them in, or constructing them out of, sequences of sentences.4 Determine which of his problems the author has solved, and which he has not: and as to the latter, decide which the author knew he had failed to solve.The argument here that any author, putting forth an argument, will use certain key words and terms (for example “natural selection” and “evolution” by Darwin in The Origin of Species) It is the reader’s duty to come to terms with the author, so that he does not misinterpret the author’s intentions by misreading the terms Then on, it is an exercise in logic by understanding the propositions and arguments This is not as difficult as it looks: in fact, we do it all the time, even though the exact logical terms may be unfamiliar to us A proposition is nothing but the meaning contained within a declarative sentence: and arguments what the author uses to prove the truth of the proposition.The fourth step is a littledifficult for the lay reader, and it will only come through practice One needs to find out which of the problems presented the author had been able to solve: and if he had been unable to solve some, whether he knew he had failed or not At this point of time, it is not important whether the reader agrees with the author That comes later Here, we are talking about the author’s own internal logic, and how far he has been able to present his arguments consistently in light of it, and how far he has been in successfully concluding his arguments.In the third stage of analytical reading, the reader, for the first time, starts to apply his critical senses and begins to agree or disagree with the author Here according to the authors of the current book, the reader has to follow certain etiquette, captured in the following three rules:1 Do not begin criticism until one has completed the outline (first stage) and interpretation (second stage) Then one can agree, disagree or suspend judgement.2 Do not disagree disputatiously or contentiously Or in plain words, unless one can present factual evidence acceptable at least to oneself, disagreement with an author based on emotional prejudice should be avoided (easier said than done!).3 Demonstrate that one knows the difference between knowledge and mere personal opinion by presenting good reasons for any critical judgement one makes.The authors also provide special criteria for criticism: (1) show where the author is uninformed, (2) show where he is misinformed, (3) show where his illogical and (4) show where his analysis is incomplete.Syntopic ReadingThis is the fourth (and most advanced) level of reading, according to Adler and Van Doren – though I’d perhaps disagree Here, the reader is engaged in researching books about one basic idea For example, if you want to read up on, say evolution, you must first understand what the significant books are on the subject: then you must proceed to read them, and summarise the arguments, both pro and con, preferably remaining objective throughout Phew! Not a very easy task.Don’t worry, the authors give stepbystep instructions for this level also First, create a bibliography of the subject and inspect all of the books to ascertain which are the relevant ones: then, do the following:1 Do inspectional reading of the selected book to choose the passages which are most relevant to the subject at hand; 2 Establish a neutral terminology which is applicable to all the authors, so that all of them can be brought to the same terms;3 Establish a set of neutral propositions, by framing a set of questions which all the authors can be seen as answering;4 Range the answers on both sides of the issue The issue may not always explicitly exist, and may have to be constructed by interpretation of the authors’ views (for example, in the case of evolutionary theory, “Intelligent Design” is a form of creationism even though the trappings of evolutionary theory are used);5 Analyse the discussion by ordering the issues to throw maximum light on the subject.The authors stress the need for dialectical objectivity throughout; that is, the reader is only expected to arrange and present the arguments so as to present an ordered discussion without taking sides So the aim of syntopical reading is to “clear away the deadwood and prepare the way for an original thinker to make a breakthrough”.***Whoever has read through this review so far would be asking (him/her)self: “But that’s applicable to expository books, where the main aim is the dissemination of information? What about fiction? What about poetry? What about drama?” Well, the authors extend their methodology to all kinds of books, but according to me, it falls flat All said and done, the methodology works only for expository works And that is its main problem.This book is not about literary theory or criticism: nor is it about literature appreciation It is a selfhelp book on the lines of those on time management, attending interviews, etc It outlines a methodology, the diligent following of which will guarantee results, according to its authors It well may, for the major part of the book devoted to analytical reading gave me some insights on how to tackle books on difficult subjects like philosophy and political theory (the two stars are for that) But the book is extremely boring, and the authors’ insistence on applying their favourite methodology to all sorts of books was stretching things a bit (over, it takes all the fun out of reading!) And syntopic reading may make sense to an undergraduate preparing a dissertation, but is of little use to anybody else.If anyone wants to read this book, I would recommend an inspectional reading concentrating mainly on the methodology of analytical reading only The other parts are not worth the time spent on it.I purchased a copy, but the book seems to be available free on the net (no idea about copyright issues!), so go ahead and try it if you want Statutory warning: boredom ahead. Probably one of the most important books you can read I outlined the first three levels of reading a while back and I saved it I'll post that for my review.How To Read A Book:(This is an outline of part of Mortimer J Adler and Charles Van Doren’s excellent book, How To Read A Book The outline takes one up to the third level of reading analytical reading There is a fourth level, syntopical reading, but most of the intended readers of this outline, and your every day reader, does not read syntopically Further, mastering levels 13 will improve what you get out of your reading 10 fold It is sufficient to make you a very proficient reader Also, syntopical reading is for many books, analytical reading is for one book So, technically, the title of this post implies an an analytic outline A syntopical outline would be titled, “How To Read Books.” For these reasons I have only focused on levels 13 I hope the below outline will provide you with some practical knowledge of how to read well, not necessarily be well read I also would obviously recommend purchasing Adler and Van Doren's book, How To Read A Book, for your own library.)I Be a demanding reader Reading, if you’re going to learn anything or gain enlightenment, must be active Theactive the reader is, the better.A You can be active by paying attention and focusing.B By taking notes, highlighting key points and arguments, asking questions of the author, etc.C Following rules for reading and making the following of these rules habitual.D The demanding reader should be asking these 4 questions of the book:1 What is the book about as a whole? This should be stated succinctly.2 What is being said in detail and how? You should know the main assertions and arguments which constitute the author’s message3 Is the book true in whole or in part? Once you have understood the book you are obligated to make a judgment regarding it Make up your own mind.4 What of it? (4) is asking things like: (a) How should I then live in light of what I’ve learned? (b) What should I do with this knowledge?II The first level of reading is the reading at the basic, or elementary school, level.III The second level of reading is called “inspectional reading.” This comes in two parts:A Systematic skimming or prereading.1 This is achieved by: reading the title, table of contents, preface, editors note, introduction, back flap, etc.2 Reading the index to see the major themes, topics, ideas, and terms the author will be discussing.3 Reading through the book by reading the first couple of pages or so, the last couple of pages or so, and then flipping through the book, dipping in here and there.B Superficial reading is the second part of inspectional reading To achieve this you must read through the entire book at a fast pace and without stopping to think about terms you’re unfamiliar with, ideas you don’t immediately grasp, and points which are footnoted for further inspection Doing both (A) and (B) will prepare you to read the book through for the second time; the analytical stage.IV The third stage of reading is called “analytical reading.” There are three stages, made up of various rules, of analytical reading.A Stage one: Rules for finding out what the book is about.1 Classify the book according to kind and subject matter This is also referred to as pigeonholing a book.(a) Is it a poem, play, epic, work of philosophy or theology, history, science, etc.(b) Is it theoretical or practical.(i) A theoretical book reports facts, offers detached arguments, or offers insight or understanding of a position These books teach you that something is the case.(ii) A practical book tells you how to live, or how to do something These books teach you how to do something.(iii) As an aside, these two cannot be sharply separated As John Frame points out in The Doctrine of God, facts and application of the facts go hand in hand When I learn the 6th commandment I know how to apply it But as I apply it todiverse areas of life, I learnabout the 6th commandment.2 Succinctly state what the book is about That is, find the main theme or point of the book You should be able to state this in a sentence, paragraph at most This is different than (IV.A.1) in that here we are asking what the book is about, not what kind of book it is.3 Outline the book See this outline for an instantiation of this rule Basically, you want to get at the bones of the book The basic structure The construction of the major themes and arguments How the book proceeds The skeleton 4 Define the problem(s) the author has tried to solve To see the unity of a book you need to know why it has the unity it has (supposing it’s a good book and it has a unity!) To know why it has the unity it has you should know the authors main problem(s) he’s trying to answer; as well as subordinate questions and answers.B Stage two: Rules for interpreting the book’s content.5 Coming to terms with the author.(a) A term is not a word A term is the meaning of a word Water and agua are two different words, they mean the same thing though.(b) To know the authors terms, then, is to understand the meaning of his argument or explanation, etc.(c) Find the important words and through them come to terms with the author.(d) The words he uses in an important way, or the ones you have trouble understanding, are probably the important terms you need to know.(e) Read all the words in context to find the meaning of the terms; how the author means them, that is 6 Grasp the leading propositions by finding the key sentences.(a) Propositions are the meanings of sentences.(b) You find the leading propositions by finding the key sentences.(c) You find the key sentences myriad ways:(i) The author marks them out for you in some way.(ii) These are the sentences that give you the most trouble.(iii) The sentences express judgments, I.e., they are not questions or exclamations!(iv) These are his reasons for affirming or denying the main problem(s) he has set out to answer.7 Find the author’s argument by finding them in the key sequences of sentences.(a) Sting together the important propositions into an ordered structure.(b) An argument must involvethan one statement.(c) An argument might be an inductive or deductive one.(d) Observe what the author says he must prove and what he must assume.8 Find which problem(s) the author solved and which one’s he did not If he did not, find out if he knows that he did not.(a) Did the author solve the problem(s) he set out to solve?(b) Did he raise new ones in the process?(c) Did the author admit or know that he failed to solve some of the problem(s)?(d) If you know the solutions to the problem/s you can be confident that you understand the book.C Stage three: Rules for criticizing a book as a communication of knowledge You are required to criticize the book you read You owe the author that Criticize, or offering a judgment, does not necessarily mean that you disagree with the author You can offer the judgment that you agree with him, you have learned something, and he has answered what he set out to If you disagree, which is your right, be sure you have completed the above steps You cannot critique that which you do not understand.9 General maxims for intellectual etiquette.(a) Do not begin criticism until you have completed your outline and interpretation of the book.(b) Do not agree disputatiously or contentiously.(c) Demonstrate you understand the difference between knowledge and mere opinion by giving reasons for your judgments (criticisms).10 Special criteria for points of criticism.(a) Show where the author is uninformed This is where he lacks some piece of knowledge that is relevant to the problem(s) he was trying to solve.(b) Show where the author is misinformed This is when the author asserts what is not the case.(c) Show where the author is illogical Here the author’s reasoning is faulty He has either made a non sequitur or was inconsistent.(d) Show where the author’s analysis, argument, or solution to problem(s) is incomplete This is to say the author did not solve all the problems he started out to solve or did not make good use of the material at his disposal, that he failed to take into account all the ramifications, or made distinctions relevant to his undertaking.The above outline provides the rules and strategies required for reading well Many folks are well read, not many read well Thomas Hobbes once said, “If I read as many books as most men do, I would be as dullwitted as they are.” Who This Book is (not) ForIt focuses mainly on reading expositional, rather than imaginative material It was written in 1940, and revised in 1972, though it looks and feelslike a 40s book I read it in the hope of becoming aanalytical reader who could go on to writecoherent, concise, and original reviews It didn’t help.This may once have been a good book Had I read it as an undergraduate, I may even have found bits of it slightly useful As a middleaged fiction reader in the 21st century, I found it infuriating, boring, and mostly irrelevant Types of ReadingThere are four levels of reading: 1 Elementary (learning to decode the symbols).2 Inspectional (timelimited skimming).3 Analytical.4 Syntopical (comparing and drawing conclusions) I used Inspectional for most of the book because my patience and interest were severely, and increasingly, limited.It focuses mainly on analytical reading of nonfiction: knowing what sort of book it is, having an idea of the content and structure etc Its own structure is very poor For example, four rules of analytical reading are spread across two chapters, and only listed together at the end of the second Then, in the next chapter, you discover rule five, and six… It turns out there are 15 (yes, 15!) rules of analytical reading Enough to put me off reading altogether.There are a couple of chapters devoted to fiction, but I didn’t find them helpful or insightful.Example of Annoyances“Most plays are not worth reading… because they are incomplete.”Sweeping generalisation followed by a nonsequitur I rarely read plays precisely because they were written for performance, and I can’t do that effectively in my head It does not mean that most plays are not worth reading, though.“An author uses most words as men ordinarily do in conversation.”I nearly threw the book across the room, though that was probably an overreaction, born of my mounting dislike Yes, I know it was written when it wascommon to use male pronouns as generic ones, and to use “man” to mean “mankind/humankind” But it was revised in 1972, and “men” grates farthan “man”: surely “people” would benatural, even back then? The Literary Canon (only one?!)I don’t think the authors really know who their audience is a fatal flaw in any writer/reader relationship There are constant assumptions that the reader is familiar with the classical Western canon, from ancient civilisations, through to the start of the twentieth century: Homer’s Ulysses, though to Joyce’s Ulysses If you’d read them in school (as the authors expect), you’d either have understood them and so have little need of this book, or not understood them, and have no intention of reading this book.This is reflected in the impressive and somewhat daunting reading list It explicitly includes only Western works because:1 The authors admit they know very little about Indian, Chinese, Japanese and other literary traditions (They could have consulted someone else.)2 Apparently, there is not a single tradition in Eastern literature, as there is in Western (I’m not sure I understand the truth or untruth of that.)3 It’s better to really know your own culture’s canon before branching out to others (I don’t agree, but it is a valid and somewhat interesting opinion.)ExercisesAn appendix has a lot of comprehension exercises (I’m not sure what term is used outside the UK) I didn’t do any of them I’d rather read a good book.If you want to read a book, I suggest you read a book But probably not this one.If you want exercises, make it a large, heavy one!