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Adler, How to Read a Book

Written by: on October 7, 2019

I wish I could have read Adler, “How to Read a Book” during my time when I started the seminar. The reason I say that is because as I was reading the book, I realized how it could have saved me more time and enjoy my reading better if I would have known about the strategies that Adler is suggesting. 

Adler deconstructed the way I will continue to read books for now on. In my library/garage, I have over 300 publications, and a few months ago, I got rid of around 400 more. I can honestly say that I did read some books, but the majority of them I didn’t because my motivation to read changed. 

As much as I appreciate reading good books, I have also discovered that I learn more by watching a small video clip, searching google, watching a series of history and discovery channel. You know how they say that we have different ways we learn things. 

The expert noted that some are Visual, others are Auditory, and Kinesthetic. I am more visual and auditory type. 80% of what I learn is visible and by listening to the radio, and other speakers. I am not sure how much attention is giving to those facts, but I think it could help a lot in the academic performers. 

I have yet to see a professor requesting us to write about what we learned from a movie like the Joker. 🙂 Nevertheless, we have to force our self to read and remember as much as we can. It is just the norm, and it will take a long time before it changes. However, the point is how to read with intelligent. In other words, we should be absorbing the value of the book with efficiency. 

“To read this book, intelligently—which is what this book aims to help its readers do with all books—such distinctions must be grasped.” pg 4

In the seminar, I was thought to approach the reading with the idea in mind of questioning the book and finding out what is the book about as a whole, to find what the author is saying, the thesis or main idea, etc. 

I was not so much into the idea of inspectional reading, skimming the book, and outstroke the main ideas and read in limited time, but that is a great idea and better approach. 

I did know about the reading the table of contents, index, and critical summaries of significant chapters. I advised my son on some of the vital points that Adler is suggesting. I will be honest. I don’t read with an analytical reading in mind, and I think that explains why I don’t gain the best understanding of the book. 

I usually agreed with everything the author said, but I now know that I should develop a personal opinion about its validity. I am familiar with the Symbolical reading as it was commonly practiced in the seminar, but even that wasn’t enjoyable trying to find comment grand with the authors from one another.   

“It the reader understands a book, then how can he disagree with it? Critical reading demands that he make up his own mind. But his mind and the author’s have become as one through his success in understanding the book. What mind has he left to make up independently?” pg 120 

One other thing to consider reading with critical thinking in mind is that it creates space to learn more about the subject. “Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” by Michael Scriven & Richard Paul.

 Critical thinking, when reading a book it encouraged to have the freedom to be a critic of the authors and decide what’s true, and I should do. 

About the Author

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Joe Castillo

9 responses to “Adler, How to Read a Book”

  1. mm Dylan Branson says:

    What I find fascinating about reading is a lot of times we don’t realize the seeds of analysis that were planted in our minds as we read. Even when we don’t read analytically, if we at least read actively a concept often takes root. There have been many times where I’ll be reading something more academic (whether an article, a book, etc.) and I finish it thinking, “Well, that was a waste of time. I didn’t understand a thing.” But later, I’ll be reading something for pleasure and there’s a concept in that book that suddenly stirs something in the back of my mind from the more academic book I’ve read. When this happens, something finally clicks and I can see the value in what I had read previously.

  2. mm Shawn Cramer says:

    Joe,
    Your post reminds me of our time with Emma Percy – highlighting the seemingly end of the Gutenberg Era. Now, more than ever, one can continue to learn and grow without hard-copy books being the main source. I struggle to type that sentence as a bibliophile! How might you suggest using some of Adler’s suggestions and methods on other forms of learning like YouTube, articles, etc.? I’d be curious to know as I’m trying to encourage one of my staff who doesn’t like reading to be committed to being a life-long learner and finding out what that means for her.

  3. mm Joe Castillo says:

    I have no answer for that but that a good question to think about. As far as I know, it is not something to consider at the academic level but they have to catch up with audible books. Well, she should know that life-long learning is not limited to books. Google, Amazon and other outlets are building a whole library in the digital world. she can find the ways she learns better and goes for it.

  4. Nancy Blackman says:

    Joe,
    First, I loved your image! I laughed out loud. Thankfully, there was no coffee in my mouth at that moment. It prepared me for your post and thoughts.

    You hit on something that no-one else touched upon (I think). Some people are visual learners and some people are audible learners. Have you thought of joining Audible and listening to your books? By the way, the library also has audible books. We are all created differently for a reason!

    How do you think your learning would change or be different if you listened to books instead of reading?

    Bendiciones,
    Nancy

  5. mm Steve Wingate says:

    Agreed, “Adler deconstructed the way.” The authors did a phenomenal job of reframing or providing a plan of how to get more from a book. I look forward to reading those painful books I’ve side passed.

  6. mm John McLarty says:

    When I was in seminary, I had three different professors in three different classes assign us to watch the movie, “Sling Blade.” Each class had a writing assignment associated with the themes of the movie. I remember how grateful I was to have the chance to learn to look for theological or spiritual elements in a film rather than solely rely on printed text. I think your post raises an important point for our culture today regarding the ways we receive and engage with information. Is the learning we do via YouTube videos or other online avenues as helpful as knowledge imparted through books?

  7. mm Greg Reich says:

    Joe,
    Good valid insights. I enjoy multiple forms of learning. Sometimes audible is preferred when I am spending a lot of time driving. Video visual learning is helpful when I meed to learn how to do something. But reading and the feel of a good book in my hands is something special.

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