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.
Dr. Mortimer J. Adler was Chairman of the Board of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Director of the Institute for Philosophical Research, Honorary Trustee of the Aspen Institute, and authored more than fifty books. He died in 2001. Dr. Charles Van Doren earned advanced degrees in both literature and mathematics from Columbia University, where he later taught English and was the Assistant Director of the Institute for Philosophical Research. He also worked for Encyclopedia Britannica in Chicago.
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 0