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How to Read a Book Grace and Truth Books
  • ISBN: 978-0671212094
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Page Count: 426
  • Publisher: Simon Schuster

How to Read a Book (Mortimer Adler)

$16.99 $10.95

Long renowned as “the classic guide to intelligent reading”, a book which ought to be mandatory reading for every high school student. Adler explains the lost art of reading actively and how to take accurate and comprehensive notes. This volume will be of great assistance to anyone who implements its principles, for getting the most out of any of their reading.

“These four hundred pages are packed full of high matters which no one solicitous of the future of American culture can afford to overlook.” – Jacques Barzun

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How To Read a Book

The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

How to Read a Book, originally published in 1940, has become a rare phenomenon, a living classic. It is the best and most successful guide to reading comprehension for the general reader. And now it has been completely rewritten and updated.

The author tells you about the various levels of reading and how to achieve them–from elementary reading, through systematic skimming and inspectional reading, to speed reading. You learn how to pigeonhole a book, X-ray it, extract the author’s message, criticize. Then Adler shows the different reading techniques for reading practical books, imaginative literature, plays, poetry, history, science, and mathematics, philosophy, and social science.

Finally, the author offers a recommended reading list and supply reading tests whereby you can measure your own progress in reading skills, comprehension and speed.


How to Read a Book shows concretely how the serious work of proper reading may be accomplished and how much it may yield in the way of instruction and delight.” — The New Yorker

“The four hundred pages of How to Read a Book are packed full of high matters which no one solicitous of the future of American culture can afford to overlook.” – Jacques Barzun

About the Author

Mortimer J. Adler was an American author, educator, and philosopher who championed the repopularization of the Great Books and Great Ideas curriculum of study. A prolific scholar, he was the author or editor of more than fifty books, including editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica. His Synopticon was an exhaustive index of the most significant ideas put forth within Western Civilization. Other highly influential books included How to Read a Book (1940) and How to Think About War and Peace (1944).

Deemed controversial and somewhat eccentric for his zealous classics-based approach to education, Adler was a world federalist and an idealist who described his most influences as Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas.


  1. The Activity and Art of Reading
  2. The Levels of Reading
  3. First Level of Reading: Elementary Reading
  4. Second Level of Reading: Inspectional Reading
  5. Third Level of Reading: How to Be a Demanding Reader
  6. Pigeonholing a Book
  7. X-Raying a Book
  8. Coming to Terms with an Author
  9. Determining an Author’s Message
  10. Criticizing a Book Fairly
  11. Agreeing or Disagreeing with an Author
  12. Aids to Reading
  13. How to Read Practical Books
  14. How to Read Imaginative Literature
  15. Suggestions for Reading Stories, Plays, and Poems
  16. How to Read History
  17. … Science and Mathematics
  18. … Philosophy
  19. … Social Science
  20. The Fourth Level of Reading: Syntopical Reading
  21. Reading and the Growth of the Mind

Appendix A: Recommended Reading List

Appendix B: Exercises and Tests at the Four Levels of Reading