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Home / Books / How to Read a Book

How to Read a Book

Some books can help you read better, faster and deeper, discovers Piyush Jha

books Updated: Dec 12, 2019 17:10 IST
Piyush Jha
Piyush Jha
Mumbai
(PHOTO: REUTERS)

The other day while at a coffee shop I spotted a young girl reading a book called How to Read a Book. I’d never heard of the book, so I asked her if I could take a look. Turns out it was written in 1940 by philosopher Mortimer J. Adler who also co-authored a revised edition in 1972 with editor Charles Van Doren.

Now, for many, reading a book seems easy and instinctive like breathing or walking and does not merit a book dedicated to it, right? Actually, that’s incorrect. When I went through the book myself, I realised that there indeed are specific techniques that can help reading for better knowledge. This is actually a book that young people could use and really gain from.

Going further, I discovered that in fact there are a few good books for readers at all age-levels and all pursuits to help extract the maximum out of a book. Here are some that are worth mentioning.

If you’re already a book lover but are falling back on your reading then How To Read A Book A Day: The Ultimate Guide To Quickly Absorb And Retain Information by Chris Campbell is the book for you. With the methods suggested in this book, you could learn to quickly imbibe the most important content of a book and increase the volume of your reading while you’re at it.

For parents who’re trying to get their kids to develop a reading habit, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann, Phyllis Haddox and Elaine Bruner is a fun way to engage with your children and teach them, how to gain the essentials skills for becoming a good reader in an easy-to-learn, step-by-step manner.

For the more literary readers, I would recommend How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster. While many books can entertain the reader with their plots and character journeys, there are often deeper thoughts hidden below the surface of the story. This book can show you how to discover the buried subtext and literary themes and nuances within a book.

When it comes to reading, I feel many readers often judge themselves by the number of books they’ve read. But, in my opinion, smart readers should judge themselves by how much they can truly extract out of each book they read.

(Piyush Jha is a contemporary storyteller who practises his craft by directing films and writing books.)