Picking up a heavy book and feeling the heft of it in my hands and thumbing through the pages and smelling slighty musty papery pages is bliss to me. Anyone else? #booknerdsunite
But, before beginning to read through each page, it’s good to have an idea of how to understand an author’s meaning. That is the aim of Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book.
Mr. Adler does for the art of reading what Sun Tzu did for in The Art of War. He breaks reading a book, down to its most simplistic forms. Take understanding an author’s terms, for example. Adler helps create a reader who is able to mine the pages of a book for all they’re worth by first becoming sure of what an author means by using a specific word in a specific context.
Sound a little too detailed?
It is! But, deliciously so for those of us who adore letters strung together to form words, and words sewn together into sentences.
At 389 pages, this might not be the best beach read. But, with a list of “The Great Books” in the final chapter, it is worth every turn of every page.
Learning how to read a book thoroughly allowed me to see the truth of this quote, from Adler:
“…a good book can teach you about the world and about yourself. You learn more than how to read better; you also learn more about life.”
Yes and yes.
And what’s more, my writing journey began as a reader. It’s true! In fact, my favorite quote from How to Read a Book confirms this (although, I would add that this is true for any of us calling ourselves Writer or Author):
“The great authors were great readers, and one way to understand them is to read the books they read.”
Ask any author how many books they’ve read. Almost all will say a TON! Maybe not in that exact terminology, but pretty close (and there are some authors for whom I would love to know what their favorite books are!).
So, to sum up:
If writer, then How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler.
If reader, then How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler.