How To Read A Book by Mortimer Adler

Pre-reading process:

  1. Title page and preface
  2. Table of Contents
  3. Check the index
  4. Read the publishers blurb
  5. Skim the main chapters
  6. Skim the entire book
  • P. 38 You need to be able to read at different speeds. Not just faster than you currently do.
  • P. 41 The assumption that we have the Declaration of Independence in house. 😂 It’s online. Why buy one?

Four questions to ask of a book:

  1. What is the book about as a whole?
  2. What is being said in detail, and how?
  3. Is the book true, in whole or part?
  4. What of it? Why?
  • P. 50 Create a personal index at the back and write a summary outline at the beginning.

I. THE FIRST STAGE OF ANALYTICAL READING: RULES FOR FINDING WHAT A BOOK IS ABOUT

  1. Classify the book according to kind and subject matter.
  2. State what the whole book is about with the utmost brevity.
  3. Enumerate its major parts in their order and relation, and outline these parts as you have outlined the whole.
  4. Define the problem or problems the author has tried to solve.

II. THE SECOND STAGE OF ANALYTICAL READING: RULES FOR INTERPRETING A BOOK’S CONTENTS

  1. Come to terms with the author by interpreting his key words.
  2. Grasp the author’s leading propositions by dealing with his most important sentences.
  3. Know the author’s arguments, by finding them in, or con— structing them out o,f sequences of sentences.
  4. Determine which of his problems the author has solved, and which he has not; and of the latter, decide which the author knew he had failed to solve.

III. THE THIRD STAGE OF ANALYTICAL READING: RULES FOR CRITICIZING A BOOK AS A COMMUNICATION OF KNOWLEDGE

A. General Maxims of Intellectual Etiquette

  1. Do not begin criticism until you have completed your outline and your interpretation of the book. (Do not say you agree, dis- agree, or suspend judgment, until you can say “I understand”)
  2. Do not disagree disputatiously or contentiously.
  3. Demonstrate that you recognize the dillerence between knowledge and mere personal opinion by presenting good reasons for any critical judgment you make.

B. Special Criteria for Points of Criticism

  1. Show wherein the author is uninformed.
  2. Show wherein the author is misinformed.
  3. Show wherein the author is illogical.
  4. Show wherein the author‘s analysis or account is incomplete.
  • Action: Reevaluate the Bookworm format and how we process a book in post.

  • Imaginative literature: basically it’s saying to NOT get too wound up in the details.
  • Reading poems: read it through first and then again out loud.