How to Read a Book

  • by Mortimer J. Adler, Charles Van Doren
  • Narrated by Edward Holland
  • 15 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

How to Read a Book, first published in 1940, is the best and most successful guide to reading comprehension for the general reader. Now it has been completely rewritten and updated.
Learn about the various levels of reading and how to achieve them, from elementary reading through systematic skimming and inspectional reading to speed reading. Learn how to pigeonhole a book, "x-ray" it, extract the author’s message, and critique it. The authors offer different reading techniques for various types of books, and finally, a recommended reading list and reading tests for measuring your own progress in reading skills, comprehension, and speed.

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What the Critics Say

“It shows concretely how the serious work of proper reading may be accomplished and how much it may yield in the way of instruction and delight.” (The New Yorker)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

If You Read Books, You Must Read This

I picked the original 1940s edition of this up at an estate sale several years ago. Since I am someone who is seldom seen without a book in hand (now it is earbuds in ears), my family teased me incessantly about the title. But this book taught me more about the art and skill of reading to learn and reading to understand than I learned through my entire formal education. I would almost say that this book "taught" me to read and what I had done up until that point was a pale imitation. This should be required reading to every person even considering going to college. And if they cannot understand and learn from the book, that is a good sign their reading skills need remedial work.

I was excited when I noticed that Audible had the updated 1970s edition available. It is a major departure from the original work. It was almost entirely overhauled. Even though they are considerably different I found them both equally well written and the new version presented new ideas.

I felt somewhat foolish listening to a book about how to read. But I have found the same skills helpful as I listen, as I found them as I read. And while the book deals primarily with "serious" or "scholarly" reading, the skills discussed also enhance my experience reading modern fiction, even trashy modern fiction. You can always learn something, if you know how to go about it.

I cannot recommend this book enough. To say it changed my life when I first read it, might be an overstatement. But it certainly caused me to enjoy reading even more, and to not just use books to reinforce what I already know, but to stretch myself and actually learn something new.
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- Lulu

Thought Provoking

Mr. Adler's theories on 'active' reading caused me to consider how I read and gain from it. His guidance on making a book my own through questions, referencing and notes has given me an outline for future reading. Like many others, I wish I had known about this book when I was in school. I'll be buying a copy for each of my grandchildren as they enter high school.
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- Linda

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-16-2010
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.