How to read a book


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How to Read a Book: Based on Mortimer Adler's Book of the same Name

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How to read a book

  1. 1. “We know more about the world than weused to, but knowledge is not really aprerequisite to understanding, we do nothave to know everything in order tounderstand it. Too much can be a largerobstacle than too few!”Is this true? Take 5 minutes and write down if you agree ordisagree and why?
  2. 2. ACTIVE
  3. 3. NOT ACTIVE
  4. 4. THE ESSENCE OF ACTIVE READINGThe FOUR Basic QUESTIONS a Reader asks. It is important to ask questions while you read, questions you want to answer in the course of your reading.WHAT IS THE BOOK ABOUT AS A WHOLE? You must try to discover the leading theme of the book, and how the author develops this theme in an orderly way by subdividing it into its essential subordinate themes or topics.WHAT IS BEING SAID IN DETAIL, AND HOW? Discover the main ideas, assertions, and arguments that constitute the author’s particular message.IS THE BOOK TRUE, IN WHOLE OR PART? Only answer after you answer the first two. As a reader you are obligated to make up your own mind, knowing the author’s mind is not enough.WHAT OF IT? What is the significance? Why does the author think it important to know these things? What is further implied or suggested?
  5. 5. HOW I MARK IN A BOOK: MY VERSION OF ANNOTATION1) Underlining- of major points, or important statements.2) Vertical Lines at the Margin- To emphasize a statement already underlined or to point to a passage too long to be underlined.3) Star, ASTERIK, Doodad- to emphasize important passages in the book4) NUMBER or LETTERS in the Margin- to indicate a sequence of points made by the author.5) NUMBERS of OTHER PAGES- to indicate places where the author made similar points, or contradictions, to tie up ideas in the book.6) CIRCLE- key words or phrases7) WRITING in the MARGIN- to ask questions (?) to indicate a note to yourself.Three TYPES of Note MAKINGStructural NOTES: What kind of book is it? What is it about as a whole? How is it arranged? STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK.Conceptual NOTES: Concern the author’s concepts and also your own as they develop through reading.Dialectical NOTES: shape of the discussion from several different books it involves a structure of concepts an order of statements and questions about a single subject matter.
  6. 6. Enough Said
  7. 7. 2 TYPES OF INSPECTIONAL READINGSystematic Skimming or Superficial Reading Pre-ReadingHOW TO SKIM: When tackling a difficult bookLook at the TITLE PAGE and the for the first time, read it PREFACE (except lit)- through without ever indications of scope or aim of stopping. bookStudy the Table of Contents- to obtain a general sense of structure Ponder the things you do notCheck the INDEX- range of understand right away. topics and the kinds of books the author is familiar with and refers toLook at the Chapters (Which are more important? Which are pivotal?)
  9. 9. OUTLINING AND STRUCTURE: THE FIRST 4 RULESRULE 1: CLASSIFY- You must know what kind of a book you are reading! (Inspectional)Practical vs. Theoretical: Theoretical books teach you that something is and practical books teach you how to do.RULE 2: X-RAY a book- State the unity of the whole piece in a single sentence of short paragraph. (discover the theme or main point)RULE 3- ORDER: Show how the major parts (important) of the book are ordered one to another and organized into a whole. You cannot grasp the complex unity if you only know how it is one. There is a difference between a heap of bricks and the house.RULE 4- OUTLINE THE BOOK- Find out what the author’s problems were. The author of a book starts with a questions or a set of questions. The book contains the answer(s).THE FIRST STAGE OF ANALYTICAL READING allows the readers to tell what the book is about and to outline its structure.
  10. 10. THE 2ND STAGE: COMING TO TERMS WITH THEAUTHORRULE 5- FIND THE IMPORTANT WORDS COME TO TERMS WITH THE AUTHOR- locate the important words then determine their meaning.Rule 6- FIND THE PROPOSITIONS: grasp the most important propositions by interpreting and analyzing the most important sentences and paragraphsRULE 7- Find if you can the paragraphs in a book that state its important arguments; but if the arguments are not thus expressed, your task is to construct them, by taking a sentences from paragraphs until sequences are gathered that state propositions and compose arguments. KNOW THE AUTHOR’S ARGUMENT BY FINDING THEM IN, OR CONSTRUCTING THEM OUT OF SEQUENCES OF SENTENCESRULE 8- FIND OUT THE AUTHORS SOLUTIONS- What problems did the author solve? What did he not solve? On accident or on purpose?
  11. 11. Reading a book is a kind of conversation. Some say theauthor is doing all the talking but if you find that to be trueyou are not grasping your opportunities.The reader has the last word.Ordinary Conversations between persons who confront eachother are good only when carried on civilly.In reading there is an intellectual etiquette to be observed
  13. 13. GENERAL MAXIMS OF INTELLECTUALETIQUETTERULE 9- You must be able to say “I UNDERSTAND” before saying “IJUDGE”RULE 10- When YOU disagree do so reasonably, and not disputatiouslyor contentiously.There is no point winning an argument if you know you are wrong. Whenwe regard conversation as a battle you can only win by antagonism, notwith truth.RULE 11- Respect the difference between knowledge and mere personalopinion, by giving reasons for any critical judgment you make.Knowledge- supported opinions that can be defendedOpinions-unsupported judgment
  14. 14. CONFLICTIn groups of three make a list of good things to do when experiencing conflict.Now, take another 5 minutes and make a list of bad ideas during conflict.
  15. 15. AGREEING OR DISAGREEING WITH AN AUTHORNot simply by following an author’s arguments, but only by meeting them as well, can the reader ultimately reach significant agreement or disagreement with his author.When you disagree:1.) Since men are rational animals it is necessary to acknowledge the emotions you bring to a dispute, or those that arise in the course of it. Otherwise you will likely vent feelings rather than reasons.2. ) Make your own assumptions explicit. Know what your prejudices are. Otherwise you may not recognize that the author may be equally entitled to different assumptions3. ) Attempt impartiality.
  16. 16. WHEN YOU DISAGREE WITH AN AUTHORUninformed: lacks knowledge relevant to the problem he is trying to solve.Misinformed: asserts what is not true. Makes assertions contrary to factIllogical: committed an error or fallacy in reasoning.Incomplete: the author has not solved the problem, not made good use of materials, did not see all the possible implications and ramifications, failed to make distinctions that are relevant to his undertaking
  17. 17. ENOUGH SAID
  18. 18. REQUIREMENTS OF SYNTOPICAL READING1.) Knowing that more than one books is relevant to a particular topic or subject2.) Knowing which books should be read
  19. 19. 5 STEPS IN SYNTOPICAL READING1. ) Finding the Relevant Passage-: it is you and your concerns that are to be primarily served, not the books you read. You must identify relevant books before relevant passages. Your task is not to understand the book thoroughly but to discover how it is useful to your purposes, which may be very far from the author’s purpose(s).2.)Bring the Authors to Terms: Force an author to use your language rather than using his/hers.3. ) Get the Questions Clear: Since we are establishing a set of propositions, frame questions that shed light on the problem, and to which the authors answer. Questions must be put in an order that is helpful to us depending on the subject… Good starting order:
  20. 20. 5 STEPS OF SYNTOPICAL READING (CONT)4.) Define the Issues: If authors answer in different way we discover issues and they must be defined. Usually differences in answers must be ascribed to different conceptions of the question as often as different views of the subject.5.) Analyze the Discussion: To present truth we must do more than ask and answer questions, we must ask them in a certain order, defend the order, answer how questions are answered differently, and suggest WHY. Look at all sides without trying to take sides
  21. 21. ENOUGH SAID
  22. 22. READING AND THE GROWTH OF THE MINDActivity is the essence of good reading, the more active reading is, the better.You will improve your reading, comprehension, etc.You will learn about the world and about yourself.There are problems with no solutions or final understanding and the greatest books help you think better about these problemsYou know when you read great books they are stretching your mind and the book seems to grow with you. There is new understanding each time you read.These books continue your learning and help grow the mind. The mind is not limited like the body, it can continue growing way beyond normal adult development. It can also atrophy just like muscles so it must “work out” as well.