How To Read A Book’s target audience are those who ‘read’ to gain increased understanding. We are living in a society that relies on acquired information through spoken words and observations. In this technological era, reading the text from a book is no longer a priority. My oldest son is in high school with a 4.1 GPA with all AP and honor classes. Well, every school year he has to submit two book reports before entering the next grade. This year he asked my wife to purchase the audiobook or DVD because he did not want to read the book. My son loves having new information but he would rather acquire it through technology or spoken words.
According to Adler, reading is an activity so it must also be active. One of the challenges for the reader is that they are forced to understand everything on their own unless there’s a teacher involved. When there’s no teacher involved, there is one of two things that may happen to the reader; the reader understand everything or the reader understand some things, which would increase their understanding after reading.
A few years ago, I sat next to a woman on a flight from Jamaica who was completing her PhD but I was more intrigued by how fast she was ‘reading” the book. After reading this book, it is possible she must have read this book at some point because she told me there were different levels of reading and that was the only way she exceled in school.
Adler describes four levels of reading that guides each reader. Based on these levels, we have a blueprint to gage where we are as readers.
The reason my son wanted to watch the movie instead of reading is that he is in this category of reading. Most of his reading involves a teacher guiding his understanding so unless someone is feeding him the information, he wants no part of it. Elementary and high school students generally fall in this category.
In this level, we are skimming through the book and nothing really sticks. I skimmed through many books in undergrad because I did not like to read all those books. I still do not understand why I skimmed through the books because the time I spent trying to find quotes for my research paper, I could have read the entire book.
Typically, in undergrad we do a lot of reviewing books and determining the message of the author. However, I believe even in graduate school, there are some elements of this because we are narrowing our focus but we read from a wide focus. I analyzed and read twice as many books in graduate school but I would not consider myself an analytical reading specialist because I still had to skim through books if I was forced to read 10 books and a research paper in eight weeks.
This area belongs to the specialist (post-graduate college) because our focus is narrow. In this level of reading, the reader reads multiple books on one subject. This level is for the serious readers who desire to know the relevancy of many books one subject. Adler states that, “Knowing that more than one book is relevant to a particular question is the first requirement in any project of syntopical reading. Knowing which books should be read, in general, is the second requirement. In the Doctor of Ministry Leadership program at George Fox, we are narrowing our focus to become specialists in one area so we are reading for understanding, while finding relevancy.
Do these levels force each reader in a box? No. The categorization allows us to have reasonable expectations for each reader. Since my son is in high school, I understand why he will rather watch the DVD version. However, another student in his class might have been reading at the syntopical level. Adler allows us to realize where we are as readers and make adjustments. It would be quite unfortunate for someone in a Doctoral program who favors the elementary level. They would need to make major adjustments quickly. There are several credible points in this book but focusing on the different levels intrigued me.