Of the 137 authors listed in the recommended reading list in Appendix A of “How To Read A Book” by Adler and Van Doren , I am embarrassed to say I have truly only read seven (7), and two of those were the Old Testament and New Testament! How could a educated guy who attended a private high school and university possibly get pushed through with only reading a scant few high quality books? Are you kidding me–a Diploma, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ordination only produced SEVEN classics? I feel dumber than a stump!
My Seven: Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And of course the Old Testament and New Testament.
And now when I look deeper at the list, I see Martin Luther and John Calvin made the list. Did I remember digesting these must reads while studying to be a Pastor? Nope! Once again, I feel dumber than a stump.
But wait a minute–surely I have read portions of a bunch of these books. Upon closer inspection, yes I have! Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Dante’s Divine Comedy. Shakespeare’s Works. Milton’s Works (somehow the same title is shared with Shakespeare). Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Darwin’s The Origin of Species. Dicken’s Works (there’s that title again). Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience. Marx’s Communist Manifesto. Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams.
And thankfully, though certainly not as an expert, I have paused numerous times while reading vast portions of the Articles of Confederation, Constitution of the United States, and the Declaration of Independence. Kinda makes me want to stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance…
Sorry to say, movies don’t count for some of the books listed, especially the chick flicks my wife wishes I would watch with her, like Cervante’s Don Quixote, or both of Jane Austin’s classics, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma. Actually, not patting myself on the back, but I bought those exact titles for her from last year’s Christmas list.
Lest it seem like I am using up my one attempt at writing about a book I have not read, let me dig into what I have decided was the best point for me of the entire book. It centered around the words “I UNDERSTAND” from chapters 10 and 11. I discovered that is the central reason of why I read–to understand! I didn’t know I was advancing past the first two levels of reading (elementary and inspectional) onto the third level of analytical reading. Maybe I am not dumber than a stump.
Isn’t that enough of a reason to read any book? Simply to understand?! The authors suggested that before you can agree or disagree, or suspend any judgment, you must at the very least be able to analyze the book. I agree! Why do I agree? Simply, because without understanding the author, the title, the preface, the appendix, and the meat contained in all the chapters–reading is largely a waste of my time. Understanding is the most practical reason for reading, and I am a practical man. That’s why I am getting my DMin and not a PhD. I crave practice over philosophy, practicality over intellectualism.
I am a little sorry to say the fourth level of reading, the synoptical, is one I rarely venture into. Probably because I am not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. I am quite sure Dr. Jason is going to push me further into the synoptical. Probably thinks it is one of the biggest parts of his job as Lead Mentor. I am not disagreeing. I can use all the help I can get. Especially if he can help me achieve what chapter 20 suggests,
“…their (graduate students) efforts are enormously wasteful because they do not understand how to read some books faster than others. They spend the same amount of time and effort on every book or article they read. As a result, they do not read those books that deserve a really good reading as well as they deserve, and they waste time on works that deserve less attention.” 
I also choose to comment on chapter 18 on how to read “Canonical” books. I absolutely loved it when the author stated, about the members of churches who are believers, that the Bible is the actual words of God penned by men, and those who read those holy words do so “reverentially.” Amen to that. Furthermore, he says,
“Here, in fact, we must stop. The problem of reading the Holy Book–if you have faith that it is the Word of God–is the most difficult problem in the whole field of reading. There have been more books written about how to read Scripture than about all other aspects of the art of reading together. The Word of God is obviously the most difficult writing men can read; but it is also, if you believe it is the Word of God, the most important to read. 
I am impressed that the authors knew to capitalize “Word” and “Scripture”, but I am even more impressed they stated if you believed it was the Word of God, then the Bible is the most important book to read!
On an interesting closing note, what would a new chapter for this book read like if he added some thoughts on “How To Read A Book Using Your Kindle?” Would any of the strategies be different? Probably not, but I think it is harder for me to do many of the steps the author outlined efficiently because technology only allows me to read the very page I am on, without being able to quickly scan the entire book from the table of contents to the back cover and various places in-between.
 Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book. (New York: MJF, 1972), Appendix A.
 Adler and Van Doren, 306.
 Adler and Van Doren, 288.