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How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading (A Touchstone book) Paperback – 1972


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Product details

  • Paperback: 426 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Revised edition edition (1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671212095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671212094
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.8 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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This is a book for readers and for those who wish to become readers. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Dec 1997
Format: Paperback
How many other "How-To" books originally published in 1940 still pertain today? This books offers practical suggestions on getting the most out of a book, by reading more actively and attentively than you ever thought possible. The book does not suffer from the most common complaint of other practical books; you don't even need to set the book down in order to put your new skills as a reader into practice. The 13 page Recommended Reading List alone is worth the price of the book.
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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Layla Halabi on 20 Dec 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is a must read for anyone who is serious about his/her reading. The authors offer some perceptive tips, suggestions and ideas that are aimed at helping the average person imporve his/her reading skill. This is a book for graduate students who need the best 'how to' techniques to help them get the most out of their reading. This is also a book for the serious reader who is not content with turning page after page - going through the mechanical motions of reading. This is a book for anyone who believes that reading a book is a small life-changing exercise.
The authors begin by distinguishing between 4 levels of reading and provide techniques and examples for each level. What I found to be especially interesting are the chapters on how to read the different subjects: The authors introduce a single methodolgy for effective reading and then proceed to customize it for reading books on the sciences, philosophy, literature, fiction, etc.
Even if you consider yourself an effective reader, you'll be surprised at some of the insights that you will receive from this book. This is an excellent book, well written and well researched and it should be on every reader's shelf.
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102 of 108 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 29 Dec 2005
Format: Paperback
Imagine me - there I was, for decades of my life, thinking I knew how to read a book. I'd advanced through elementary school and prep, into college and finally to graduate school when I discovered, to my horror, that I in fact did not know how to read! Perhaps that helps to explain my affinity to literacy programmes, with whom I will begin working again come this Wednesday.
But no, perhaps I overstate the situation. What I actually mean to say is that it was not until my graduate school days that I happened across the most excellent work How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading, by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren. This staple had somehow eluded me; familiar as I was with both Adler and Van Doren, I had never encountered this text.
This book was written in 1940, as World War II was beginning and the Great Depression ending; it was revised in the 60s and again in 70s, with the assistance of Charles Van Doren, another person who had had some difficult dealings with Columbia, due to his involvement in the quiz show scandals of the 1950s. Van Doren moved away from the East Coast and landed in Chicago, near Adler, at Britannica, also again near Adler, and has the kind of intellect and unconventional circumstance that Adler admired. Adler of course had his own unique academic career, failing to get an undergraduate degree due to a physical education requirement that went unmet.
The book itself is divided into four main sections with two sizeable appendices.
The Dimensions of Reading
In this section, the authors look as types of reading and reading levels. They look at basic goals for reading, and discuss different types of learning.
Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By gabeso on 24 Jan 2011
Format: Paperback
I think that some of the low-scoring reviewers are guilty of skimming this book - and missing the point.
There is a book of tremendous value for anyone wanting to improve the depth of their reading, and of their understanding.
Several concepts are introduced: You can read a book several times, or alternatively, that books exist that need more commitment than a single read: A list of examples are supplied (although from a traditional, white, male, western perspective pre-1950's);
There are levels to reading - and the highest level involves multiple books being cross-read (having already read the individual works analytically) to get the real content from them through an understanding of individual authors terminology.
None of this is obvious and helps any reader take on more challenging works by difficult authors: It lets you understand how you could tackle a complex work by drilling into its content rather than just giving up part way.
My advice to any negative reviewers would be to read it again.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Jun 1998
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book many years ago. My wife thought I was crazy to buy a "How to" book on reading. This book truly changed the way I read (and think). I can no longer sit down with a serious book without having a pen in hand to write down comments and questions as I go.
This book should be mandatory reading for all high school students and for all education professionals.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 May 1996
Format: Paperback
From the back cover--

Originally published in 1940, 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 updated.

You 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, X-ray 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 mathmatics, philosophy and social science.

Finally, the authors offer a recommended reading list and supplu reading tests whereby you can measure your own progress in reading skills, comprehension and speed.
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