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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.

Topics: Literary Criticism, Essays, Writing, and Literary Studies

Published: Touchstone on
ISBN: 9781439144831
List price: $13.99
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Mr. Adler is a philosopher, and so he seems to tackle every problem logically. The way he makes his points is so clear that the whole book can be expressed in a flow chart. He is honest in every case except one. He lies when he says that the analytical method transfers sufficiently well for fiction. We know, he knows that his method fails for fiction. Minus this major lie, this book is fearlessly honest and a valuable resource for all readers.more
Helpful guide to reading books seriously and getting more out of what you read. Invaluable, now more than ever.more
This book carries a very niche audience. It is an eloquent and precise book. It is exhaustive in its goal. But I don't think a struggling read or a leisurely reader would be able to get through it. This is for those novice readers who want to really, vigorously practice the high art of reading. In my estimation, these types of readers are usually self-sufficient in their practice of reading.
But this book is a good book. It only suffers from its writing style and examples: no novice reader would even think of trudging through Ulysses to figure out plot, and no novice reader would want to trudge through bland but intelligent arguments on the essence of reading. (Of course, there are always exceptions.)
But--alas, another one--this book should be read by novice readers. It's certainly the best "How to" I've ever read. I just don't think novice readers would seek this book out.
Caveat: I'm sure I'm missing something here because this book does has been around for quite a while.more
Very good book on, well, how to read books. Not just a method of speed reading, other than to toss the book aside of the first glance doesn't indicate that you'd really gain from reading the book, it does give suggestions on how to adjust your pace to enable you to get the right amount of content from the book.In addition, it has a list (Appendix A) of important boks to read -- a very good list for a well-read library.more
A classic that teaches you how to get more from your reading... specifically for use with expository works; not applicable for fiction.more
Being an avid reader I use most of these steps without realizing it. Good pointers generally and a good book to own.more
one of the worst bits of writing I have seen as well as pretentious and kind of stupidmore
How to Read a Book provides a good overview of, well, how to read a book! The book itself is built around the four levels of reading, with the author providing explanations about each level, and tips and techniques for moving to the higher levels. However, in my own case, having picked up Adler's book after I had already completed a master's degree, I didn't find many new tidbits. Rather, it served to confirm the lessons I had learned inductively over the past several years. From this perspective, I think the book would be an ideal instructional tool for high school and college students, but not much more than a reference or "friendly reminder" for people with more advanced education under their belts.However, I did find several things handy in Part Three: APPROACHES TO DIFFERENT KINDS OF READING MATTER. Since much of my own reading has been specialized over the past 5-10 years due to my studies, I can't say that I have as much experience reading some other genres of literature. Adler provides a nice, short guide about how to approach each genre, which I think would help anyone who, like myself, has had his reading list constrained by syllabus requirements for far too long. Finally, Appendix A: A Recommended Reading List is by itself worth the price of the book. Unlike so many present-day "must-read" lists one comes across, Adler provides well over 100 books and authors, all of which are worthwhile, edifying and important culturally and historically. Anyone would be well-served to read even a few books on this list.more
After reading this book I have been able to pick up several classics and read them cover to cover. And through using the methods in this book, I'm getting the most out of these books that previously scared me to attempt. This is a must-read for anyone interesting in learning how to understand what you read.more
This is a great handbook for learning to be an active and thoughtful reader. I boiled down this book into a 4-step method of analyzing readings for my college students in a Humanities class where they were reading a lot of primary texts of various sorts. Many of them said later that found it worked on readings from other classes, too, and they wished they had been taught this method earlier in their college careers.more
Adler's classic book is great for anyone struggling to understand literature in any sense. Although I read the book more from a writing perspective, I received a lot of great pointers for reading. I would recommend this book to every college and post college student. If you really want to become literate, this book is for you.more
I am writing this review only a few minutes after I became a member of Library Thing. This seemed to be a particularly apposite book to be the first added to my library, and the first to be reviewed. It's a wonderful classic, potentially valuable to most serious readers of all ages, and worth its weight in gold to young students. I wish I'd read it when I was 15 or 16. When I was young, I read many books about which I can now remember little or nothing. In some cases, I can't even remember whether I've read them or not. This is not due to senility (not yet, I don't think!), but simply because at the time I didn't really know how to properly read a book. I naively thought I could just scan through the words and somehow, by some strange process of osmosis, everything in that book would be imprinted in my mind, for ever. Ha! Have you ever been more woefully misinformed? By the time I came to read Mortimer Adler's classic, I had, by trial and error, picked up many of the skills, knowledge, rules and techniques outlined here. But it had been a slow and painful learning process, and I still learned quite a lot when I eventually got to read this classic. This is a wonderful practical book that will help you when you read, to receive everything that the writer intended to communicate - which after all is the purpose of reading; to analyse it; to citicise it fairly; and to be articulate enough to agree or disagree with the author and be able to say why. I commend it most warmly.more
Even though a woman on the train laughed at me because of the title, this was a very useful work that I continue to recall and use. It's dense, but the die-hard reader will appreciate all of the insights and advice about the process of reading. It also offers some practical ways to take in a whole book by initially getting familiar with the structure.more
I've got mixed feelings about How to Read a Book, but far more positive than negative. It's a must-read, no doubt about it. I've now got all the Rules printed up and hanging on a wall in my office. The problem is, it's so well-thought-out that it leaves absolute no chance of you arguing against his statements. Every one of them is iron-clad in pure logic and solid examples. And that is what made the book such a drudgery to read. Sad to say, I'm one of those readers who must read every word, and read it all slowly. Adler makes statement (which I wholeheartedly agree with and am delighted to bring to a conscious level) and then I have to read arguments and case points supporting the statement. Adler could have omitted more than two-thirds of the text, and still have written as remarkable a book as this one is. I'll be re-reading it, probably more than once, and referencing it often. But I'll be glossing over most of it.more
Many people don't like brocolli but they know that it is good for them. This book is brocolli. It is not entertaining. It is a great instruction guide on how to critically read and study a book. Although clearly written, it requires a slow read and is worth revisiting several times. A must read for any serious student.more
A clear, simple method on how to improve reading skills and become a thorough and active reader. Wonderfully presented with many examples, this book guides the reader through the various levels of reading and encourages him to look at more challenging classics. The authors are also not afraid of criticizing their own methods and limitations. There is a reading list and a test - great fun for anyone who was ever afraid of tackling difficult books.more
Very good. Changed the way I read. However it would probably benefit me to read it again. Some of the concepts have become a little foggy and I could use a refresher.more
I had no idea what I was in for when I bought this book. I bought it with the hopes that I could learn some ideas for my boys to help them understand, if not enjoy, what they were reading. It was huge. However, I plowed through it and I'm glad I did. Not only did it give me helpful ideas for the boys, but it gave me inspiration for my own reading. I'm not sure my aspirations are as high as the authors, but it did give me confidence to tackle the more difficult books I have been collecting to read over the years. Now I just need to stay awake!more
I hate to say this, but I think maybe I found this book too late. I majored in English in college, and I had to read a lot, so maybe I already taught myself these strategies the hard way. I really was excited about this book and wanted to get into it, but I found myself employing the book’s strategies while reading the book. I skimmed, I skipped sections that weren’t immediately relevant, and I disagree with reading books you don’t really want to read. Read what’s fun and what strikes your interest or makes you smile. Read the ones you don’t want to read when they’re assigned in school. That’s my take.more
I have read this at least twice and recommend it to anyone going to college or who takes reading seriously.more
The most comprehensive book about the art of reading on the market. This is a must read for anyone who reads to understand any book. This one book explores the various levels of reading, types of reading, types of literature and expository works. You cannot call yourself a "reader" until you've read this book!more
This is a classic by Adler. Howard Hendricks says that this book will change your life...I on the other hand wouldn't go that far. He writes on a topic that people need to hear today...how to read. It's easy to read words but to be able to make meaning out of those words and make meaning out of types of literature is a different story. I found this read quite dry but nevertheless learned some. I probably need to read it again and it can teach me alot more, he's recommended by some of the greatest scholars alivemore
This guide enhances the way you absorb information from any kind of book and replicate it through several practical frameworks.
more
If you want to learn to read books better, and for all they are worth, this book will repay your time many fold. This is one of the most rewarding reads, and possibly one of the most important books you can read.more
Very well structured, teaches you how to thinkmore
Read all 28 reviews

Reviews

Mr. Adler is a philosopher, and so he seems to tackle every problem logically. The way he makes his points is so clear that the whole book can be expressed in a flow chart. He is honest in every case except one. He lies when he says that the analytical method transfers sufficiently well for fiction. We know, he knows that his method fails for fiction. Minus this major lie, this book is fearlessly honest and a valuable resource for all readers.more
Helpful guide to reading books seriously and getting more out of what you read. Invaluable, now more than ever.more
This book carries a very niche audience. It is an eloquent and precise book. It is exhaustive in its goal. But I don't think a struggling read or a leisurely reader would be able to get through it. This is for those novice readers who want to really, vigorously practice the high art of reading. In my estimation, these types of readers are usually self-sufficient in their practice of reading.
But this book is a good book. It only suffers from its writing style and examples: no novice reader would even think of trudging through Ulysses to figure out plot, and no novice reader would want to trudge through bland but intelligent arguments on the essence of reading. (Of course, there are always exceptions.)
But--alas, another one--this book should be read by novice readers. It's certainly the best "How to" I've ever read. I just don't think novice readers would seek this book out.
Caveat: I'm sure I'm missing something here because this book does has been around for quite a while.more
Very good book on, well, how to read books. Not just a method of speed reading, other than to toss the book aside of the first glance doesn't indicate that you'd really gain from reading the book, it does give suggestions on how to adjust your pace to enable you to get the right amount of content from the book.In addition, it has a list (Appendix A) of important boks to read -- a very good list for a well-read library.more
A classic that teaches you how to get more from your reading... specifically for use with expository works; not applicable for fiction.more
Being an avid reader I use most of these steps without realizing it. Good pointers generally and a good book to own.more
one of the worst bits of writing I have seen as well as pretentious and kind of stupidmore
How to Read a Book provides a good overview of, well, how to read a book! The book itself is built around the four levels of reading, with the author providing explanations about each level, and tips and techniques for moving to the higher levels. However, in my own case, having picked up Adler's book after I had already completed a master's degree, I didn't find many new tidbits. Rather, it served to confirm the lessons I had learned inductively over the past several years. From this perspective, I think the book would be an ideal instructional tool for high school and college students, but not much more than a reference or "friendly reminder" for people with more advanced education under their belts.However, I did find several things handy in Part Three: APPROACHES TO DIFFERENT KINDS OF READING MATTER. Since much of my own reading has been specialized over the past 5-10 years due to my studies, I can't say that I have as much experience reading some other genres of literature. Adler provides a nice, short guide about how to approach each genre, which I think would help anyone who, like myself, has had his reading list constrained by syllabus requirements for far too long. Finally, Appendix A: A Recommended Reading List is by itself worth the price of the book. Unlike so many present-day "must-read" lists one comes across, Adler provides well over 100 books and authors, all of which are worthwhile, edifying and important culturally and historically. Anyone would be well-served to read even a few books on this list.more
After reading this book I have been able to pick up several classics and read them cover to cover. And through using the methods in this book, I'm getting the most out of these books that previously scared me to attempt. This is a must-read for anyone interesting in learning how to understand what you read.more
This is a great handbook for learning to be an active and thoughtful reader. I boiled down this book into a 4-step method of analyzing readings for my college students in a Humanities class where they were reading a lot of primary texts of various sorts. Many of them said later that found it worked on readings from other classes, too, and they wished they had been taught this method earlier in their college careers.more
Adler's classic book is great for anyone struggling to understand literature in any sense. Although I read the book more from a writing perspective, I received a lot of great pointers for reading. I would recommend this book to every college and post college student. If you really want to become literate, this book is for you.more
I am writing this review only a few minutes after I became a member of Library Thing. This seemed to be a particularly apposite book to be the first added to my library, and the first to be reviewed. It's a wonderful classic, potentially valuable to most serious readers of all ages, and worth its weight in gold to young students. I wish I'd read it when I was 15 or 16. When I was young, I read many books about which I can now remember little or nothing. In some cases, I can't even remember whether I've read them or not. This is not due to senility (not yet, I don't think!), but simply because at the time I didn't really know how to properly read a book. I naively thought I could just scan through the words and somehow, by some strange process of osmosis, everything in that book would be imprinted in my mind, for ever. Ha! Have you ever been more woefully misinformed? By the time I came to read Mortimer Adler's classic, I had, by trial and error, picked up many of the skills, knowledge, rules and techniques outlined here. But it had been a slow and painful learning process, and I still learned quite a lot when I eventually got to read this classic. This is a wonderful practical book that will help you when you read, to receive everything that the writer intended to communicate - which after all is the purpose of reading; to analyse it; to citicise it fairly; and to be articulate enough to agree or disagree with the author and be able to say why. I commend it most warmly.more
Even though a woman on the train laughed at me because of the title, this was a very useful work that I continue to recall and use. It's dense, but the die-hard reader will appreciate all of the insights and advice about the process of reading. It also offers some practical ways to take in a whole book by initially getting familiar with the structure.more
I've got mixed feelings about How to Read a Book, but far more positive than negative. It's a must-read, no doubt about it. I've now got all the Rules printed up and hanging on a wall in my office. The problem is, it's so well-thought-out that it leaves absolute no chance of you arguing against his statements. Every one of them is iron-clad in pure logic and solid examples. And that is what made the book such a drudgery to read. Sad to say, I'm one of those readers who must read every word, and read it all slowly. Adler makes statement (which I wholeheartedly agree with and am delighted to bring to a conscious level) and then I have to read arguments and case points supporting the statement. Adler could have omitted more than two-thirds of the text, and still have written as remarkable a book as this one is. I'll be re-reading it, probably more than once, and referencing it often. But I'll be glossing over most of it.more
Many people don't like brocolli but they know that it is good for them. This book is brocolli. It is not entertaining. It is a great instruction guide on how to critically read and study a book. Although clearly written, it requires a slow read and is worth revisiting several times. A must read for any serious student.more
A clear, simple method on how to improve reading skills and become a thorough and active reader. Wonderfully presented with many examples, this book guides the reader through the various levels of reading and encourages him to look at more challenging classics. The authors are also not afraid of criticizing their own methods and limitations. There is a reading list and a test - great fun for anyone who was ever afraid of tackling difficult books.more
Very good. Changed the way I read. However it would probably benefit me to read it again. Some of the concepts have become a little foggy and I could use a refresher.more
I had no idea what I was in for when I bought this book. I bought it with the hopes that I could learn some ideas for my boys to help them understand, if not enjoy, what they were reading. It was huge. However, I plowed through it and I'm glad I did. Not only did it give me helpful ideas for the boys, but it gave me inspiration for my own reading. I'm not sure my aspirations are as high as the authors, but it did give me confidence to tackle the more difficult books I have been collecting to read over the years. Now I just need to stay awake!more
I hate to say this, but I think maybe I found this book too late. I majored in English in college, and I had to read a lot, so maybe I already taught myself these strategies the hard way. I really was excited about this book and wanted to get into it, but I found myself employing the book’s strategies while reading the book. I skimmed, I skipped sections that weren’t immediately relevant, and I disagree with reading books you don’t really want to read. Read what’s fun and what strikes your interest or makes you smile. Read the ones you don’t want to read when they’re assigned in school. That’s my take.more
I have read this at least twice and recommend it to anyone going to college or who takes reading seriously.more
The most comprehensive book about the art of reading on the market. This is a must read for anyone who reads to understand any book. This one book explores the various levels of reading, types of reading, types of literature and expository works. You cannot call yourself a "reader" until you've read this book!more
This is a classic by Adler. Howard Hendricks says that this book will change your life...I on the other hand wouldn't go that far. He writes on a topic that people need to hear today...how to read. It's easy to read words but to be able to make meaning out of those words and make meaning out of types of literature is a different story. I found this read quite dry but nevertheless learned some. I probably need to read it again and it can teach me alot more, he's recommended by some of the greatest scholars alivemore
This guide enhances the way you absorb information from any kind of book and replicate it through several practical frameworks.
more
If you want to learn to read books better, and for all they are worth, this book will repay your time many fold. This is one of the most rewarding reads, and possibly one of the most important books you can read.more
Very well structured, teaches you how to thinkmore
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