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How to Read a Book (1972)

de Mortimer J. Adler, Charles Van Doren

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6,231661,162 (4.01)81
Investigates the art of reading by examining each aspect of reading, problems encountered, and tells how to combat them.
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Es mostren 1-5 de 66 (següent | mostra-les totes)
This is the most overrated book I've read in a while. People rate it a "5/5", it's really a 2-3/5. It might be worthwhile if you don't know how to "read" well (as in, asking questions while reading, analyzing the book, comparing the viewpoints of multiple books), but if you're a reasonable human being, you already know this, and don't require hundreds of pages of needlessly verbose and condescending prose to explain it.

The authors get extra points for creating arbitrary and essentially worthless distinctions of multiple times, then indexing each of these on independent 4-part scales. This lets them say amazing things about reading the fourth type of book at the third level leads to the fourth point, etc.

Skip. There should be a worthwhile book about this topic, but this isn't it. ( )
  octal | Jan 1, 2021 |
Required reading for all that even remotely want to read well. ( )
  redeemedronin | Dec 28, 2020 |
I regret my disappointment with this book which has been recommended to me over and over again. Especially since its author was Mortimer Adler, tireless defender of the Great Books.



There is great and very useful practical advice in here. But it is buried in endless meandering essays. Adler makes a lot of sweeping and highly opinionated statements that only serve to undermine the practical advice. Some of his judgments are entirely befuddling. His rather dismissive view of the field of history was, for example, as far as I am familiar the history of historiography, outdated even in the period in which he first wrote this book. At one point, I even found him to have an ironically very dogmatic view of the alleged dogmatic views of adherents of political and religious ideologies.



I probably would have gotten more out of this book's practical aspects if I had read it in an earlier stage of my life, but I am not sure if I would have had the patience to wade through its tedious repetition. I feel like the true meat of the book could have better been presented as a concise booklet.



On a positive note, I did very much like his pitch for his «The Great Ideas A Syntopicon of Great Books of the Western World», the topical index to his Great Books of the Western World collection. ( )
  Tom_L | Dec 14, 2020 |
I just went through this book for a second time. I managed to get further... Note I skimmed the whole book, then more completely read the inspectional, analytical, and syntopical sections. I skipped the section with practical genre-specific advice.

My takeaway: if you want to get the most benefit from a (nonfiction) book, then you have to put effort into it. That's basically it.

To explain further, when reading a book you should:
1. Get a picture of where the book will go before you leap in properly. Do this by paying attention to the title, blurb, ToC. Skimread it, particularly chapter introductions and conclusions, etc.
2. Do more than passively absorb the text. Take notes on the content, underline important lines, summarise it to yourself. Are you sure you know what an author means when they use certain words? Is the author trying to convince you of something? What is their argument, and do you find it compelling?
3. You'll probably need to read several books to get a balanced view on a subject.

I might come back to this and drive into the specifics a little more, but this is enough to help me read more effectively for now.

I have two complaints:
1. The author is extremely wordy. I don't know if that was the done thing back then, or if it was just Mortimer's style, but he takes a lot of space to explain something.
2. His advice is law. Rather than "here's how I read a book", or "here's a sensible framework that makes sense to me", his presentation is THE WAY to read a book. It's a very mechanical way of reading. But, I think he probably expects you as the reader to realise this, to agree and disagree with him, and to leave with what works for you. ( )
  lachlanp | Dec 14, 2020 |
This book is showing its age. Or it's aimed at liberal arts majors. Or something. What I *did* gleem from it is that it's not for me. Your mileage may vary, but I'd doubt it. ( )
  isovector | Dec 13, 2020 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Adler, Mortimer J.autor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Van Doren, Charlesautor principaltotes les edicionsconfirmat

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How to Read a Book was originally published in the early months of 1940.
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