Increase your learning with “How to read a book” from Mortimer J. Adler

I always struggled with ways how to get the most out of reading a book. I read quite a lot of non-fiction books, both regarding software development practices and soft skills, but I wanted to have more tools to really absorb the core ideas of a book and be able to reproduce them. A lot of people struggling with the same issue, recommended the book “How to read a book”, written by Mortimer J. Adler.

Stages of reading a book

The book is quite extensive, bringing a lot of metaphors that will also stick better to your mind when you read the book. The book describes four level of readings, which are throughout the book explained in more depth:

  • Just reading a book;
  • Scanning a book;
  • Make the book your own;
  • Relate information to other books you’ve read.

A strong point is that you have to come in terms with the writer in order to understand the underling message of the book. Just by reading not actively a book, you won’t grasp the core ideas of it and master the ideas yourself. Therefore the book spends a lot on how you can determine the message of the author, like looking for keywords.

Judging the author

When reading a book, you can either agree or disagree on what the author tries to explain to you. What I found interesting from the book, that it also tries to get you in an active mode where you try to see also the point of the author, without just simply saying you don’t agree with what you’ve read.

Making notes

I didn’t found that much actually within the book about making notes. The book focuses more on the aspect of getting the information out of the book, rather then making it your own. It does although describe some techniques, like underlying scenteses in the book or writing the main points of the paragraph in the line of the page.

What I’ve learned from the book

What I’ve got mainly from the book is having a set of techniques to get the message from an author, rather than having a set of techniques to make the message my own. But I think that is after all also what the book tries to aim for, actively reading and understanding a book.

Posted in Personal growth by Bruno at May 12th, 2020.

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