What? How to Read a Book? Surely if you’ve read this book, you already know how to read a book? Yes and no. It all depends on what you mean by 'read'. The authors distinguish three different types of reading, reading for pleasure, reading for information and reading for understanding. This book deals with the latter.
This is a real back to basic guide on how to fully understand a book (the classics of fiction and non-fiction) unaided. It has a lot of good pointers. Some explanations are a bit long winded; I’m not sure if I feel that because I’ve understood it or it is just needlessly long. The authors do not dress up what the guide as some magical tour de force; they make it quite clear that what it contains is common sense.
I’ve had a quick glance over other reviews and I feel some have been unfairly harsh in this respect. The authors are very clear from the outset what their aims are and they stick to them. As long as you read the blurb, you should have a pretty good indication of whether the book is worth your time to read. Humanity students and people following programs like the Well Educated Mind are the ideal audience for How to Read a Book.
I do have to say that I have already read a condensed version of this book in How to Write Essays. It is also has Plato’s Meno’s Paradox as a subtext (very basically, it’s the problem of ‘How do I know x? If I already know x, I don’t need to learn it but if I don’t know x, I can’t learn it because I don’t know how’). My subtext is that you should never believe that you know everything already, but rather that there is always potential in anything to learn something new.
Overall, I would say that the blurb acts as a good indicator for whether this book will be any use for you. You can buy How to Read a Book here, affiliate proceeds help fund giveaways!