How to Read a Book

How to Read a Book

With half a million copies in print, How to Read a Book is the best and most successful guide to reading comprehension for the general reader, completely rewritten and updated with new material.

Originally published in 1940, this book is a rare phenomenon, a living classic that introduces and elucidates the various levels of reading and how to achieve them—from elementary reading, through systematic skimming and inspectional reading, to speed reading. Readers will learn when and how to “judge a book by its cover,” and also how to X-ray it, read critically, and extract the author’s message from the text.

Also included is instruction in the different techniques that work best for reading particular genres, such as practical books, imaginative literature, plays, poetry, history, science and mathematics, philosophy and social science works.

Finally, the authors offer a recommended reading list and supply reading tests you can use measure your own progress in reading skills, comprehension, and speed.
  • Touchstone | 
  • 426 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780671212094 | 
  • August 1972

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Posted on 250 Words

Posted by Sam McNerney

250 Words launched on February 3rd, 2014. Four days a week, I feature a smart non-fiction book that, in my opinion,people in business will find useful. If you do the math, that’s about 130 books. After helming 250 Words for eight months, I thought...

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About the Authors

Mortimer J. Adler
Jacket design by Susan Zucker Jacket Illustration by Koppel & Scher

Mortimer J. Adler

Dr. Mortimer J. Adler was Chairman of the Board of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Director of the Institute for Philosophical Research, Honorary Trustee of the Aspen Institute, and authored more than fifty books. He died in 2001.

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Charles Van Doren
Jacket design by Susan Zucker Jacket illustration by Koppel & Scher

Charles Van Doren

Dr. Charles Van Doren earned advanced degrees in both literature and mathematics from Columbia University, where he later taught English and was the Assistant Director of the Institute for Philosophical Research. He also worked for Encyclopedia Britannica in Chicago.

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