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

Mortimer J. Adler , Charles Lincoln Van Doren
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1972 A Touchstone book
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.

Frequently Bought Together

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading (A Touchstone book) + The Lessons of History + The Story of Philosophy
Price For All Three: 22.32

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  • The Lessons of History 6.99
  • The Story of Philosophy 5.34

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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: 20.8 x 17.1 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,546 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

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern classic 9 Dec 1997
By A Customer
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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67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Prequel to all books 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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101 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Higher literacy 29 Dec 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
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.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll never read a book the same way again 13 Jun 1998
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars From the dustjacket-- 29 May 1996
By A Customer
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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Was this review helpful to you?
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant. 26 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is one of the best books I have read, and it has exerted immense influence on me. I now read actively -- I mean, as much as possible -- and can feel how much more I am gaining from reading. The book has shown me the way to life-long learning.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading - For Committed Readers 24 Jan 2011
By gabeso
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!
This book was worth each one of my pennies and more! It is a "how to" that really knows what its talking about!
Published 2 months ago by Robert
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read
I rated this book 5 stars because I am half way through this book and I have learnt a lot about books and their structure as well as learning a whole new approach to reading... Read more
Published 2 months ago by sammie Jo
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Highly recommended for college/ university students. It will change your studying approach. Highly beneficial and will assist you in using books to enhance your knowledge.
Published 5 months ago by Acorn
5.0 out of 5 stars Exellent book
appears more like guide to thinking. Read several times already.
Can't recommend enough.
This is one of the kind.

Buy it.
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I haven't finished this yet but it's worth buying simply for the chapter on inspectional reading (aka skimming a book). Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jim
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful to read, no matter how old you are!
Useful to read, no matter how old you are! Read it carefully and you will know that most of your reading habits are wrong!
Published 8 months ago by LIN Yichuan
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a hard read, but worth it
I'm yet to finish this book and I will definitely be re-reading it, as the authors suggest but from the very start this book has changed my approach to reading technical books... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Carrie.J
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
Read this then read your other books you will never view them the same again

But if you watch the DVD you will enjoy it more and learn more from your books
Published 11 months ago by Taiwo Fuwa
3.0 out of 5 stars How to Read a Book
It's not a light book to read but does what it says (tells you how to read a book). I'm still plodding through it at the moment whilst reading several other books.
Published 15 months ago by Amonavis
5.0 out of 5 stars Not every book should be read in the same way.
If like me you have a massive backlog of reading to get through, this book will be invaluable to you. Read more
Published 16 months ago by ChangeAndAchieve Books
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