How to Read a Book: The Ultimate Guide to Effective Reading

Bookshelf full of books of all kinds

Do you know how to read a book, the right way?

Not surprisingly, most readers don’t.

We all learned how to read when we were little, and we’ve always done just fine since then.

Isn’t that enough? What more do we have to learn?

Well, that is not enough. Like, at all.

And there’s quite a good deal of things about reading that every one of us should learn at school, but don’t. 

Though, that’s actually not entirely the reader’s fault.

People are taught how to read only when they’re kids, in kindergarten and in the first 1-2 years of elementary school. 

After that, students are basically left on their own, with ever-increasing materials they need to read and study, but with the same knowledge about how to read a book as when they were 7 years old.

It’s Time to Level Up The Way You Read Books

I’m sure we all know how complicated it is to read a difficult book and get the most out of it.

You probably struggle a lot with reading and understanding a book. Maybe you are that type of reader who forgets everything they read the exact moment they read it. Well, at least I was like that.

But don’t worry, your sufferings are over. (Ok, almost over. You still have to work hard to learn the skills necessary for effective reading.)

This article (heavily inspired by the classic of education, How to Read a Book, written by Mortimer Adler 80 years ago) will teach you pretty much anything you need to know about how to read a book well.

We won’t cover the benefits of reading books, though. There are many reasons why books are great (I talked about my favorite one here), but this guide is specifically about how to read a book. 

Ok, are you ready?

It’s going to be long, so take your time, focus, and don’t be in a hurry. Because this topic is really important and it deserves your attention. You don’t have to do this all in one sitting. Feel free to come back on this page as much as you need.

Things to Know Before Learning How to Read a Book

Why Do You Read?

Are you reading for entertainment and/or information? 

Or are you reading for learning and understanding?

You see, reading for information and reading for understanding are two completely different things.

When you’re reading for information, you’re just reading material that is more or less on the same level of your current skills. 

For example, if you’re reading the newspaper, you’re not really challenging yourself and you’re not really putting in much work. You are just increasing the amount of information you already have in your “database”.

On the other hand, reading for learning and understanding is when the author of what you’re reading is superior than you when it comes to the topic of the book.

The goal here is to read in order to understand more, not to remember more information that’s on the same level of what we already know about a certain subject.

Needless to say, we are going to focus on the second type of reading: reading for understanding.

But, Do You Even Need to Learn (or Re-learn) How to Read a Book?

We’ve already talked about this at the beginning, and the answer is yes. A thousand (and one) times YES.

Listen, unless you are reading just for fun and don’t have any specific goal beside pure entertainment, you have to improve your reading abilities.

You can’t possibly think of being able to really understand a great, but difficult, book, if your reading skills are still on the same level of those that you acquired when you were in elementary school.

I’m sorry, but it’s the truth.

Do NOT Underestimate the Importance of Reading as a Skill

Reading is important, and knowing how to read a book is an invaluable skill.

Sadly, many people don’t give nearly enough importance to it.

They think that reading is just something you do, like walking or eating. They think there’s no need to work hard to improve the way you do it.

But reading is indeed a skill, a very important skill, and, like any great skill, it requires (and deserves) time, focus, and hard work.

If you understand the importance of reading as a skill and are willing to put in the work, then this is the guide for you.

4 Levels and 4 Questions   Four rocks one on the other and four question marks

Reading is an activity. There’s no such thing as completely passive reading (you can’t read without moving your eyes), but there is a more or less active reading. 

The rule is that the more active the reading the better.

Reading consists of many acts, and the more of those you can perform well, the better reader you are.

Mortimer J. Adler, the one who wrote the classic, How to Read a Book, states that there are 4 different levels of reading:

  1. Elementary reading;
  2. Inspectional reading;
  3. Analytical reading;
  4. Syntopical reading.

Note that he didn’t say kinds or types, but levels, because levels are not separated from each other. Every higher level includes the lower ones.

“Kinds, strictly speaking, are distinct from one another, whereas it is characteristic of levels that higher ones include lower ones.”

— Mortimer J. Adler

And, since reading is an activity, a good reader is also a demanding reader that interacts with the book by asking questions while reading. According to Adler, there are 4 basic questions that you must try to answer. They are, in order:

  1. What is the book about as a whole? Every book has a leading theme. Your job is to find it, explain it in your own words, and see how the author develops it. 
  2. What is being said in detail, and how? When writing a book, authors are trying to convey their own message. Your job here is to identify the main ideas, assertions, and argument that are part of it.
  3. Is the book true, in whole or in part? After having really understood a book, you have to make up your own mind and decide whether you believe the author is right or wrong, whether what they said is true or false.
  4. What of it? Ask about the significance of the information you found in the book. Why does the author think that you should know certain things? Are these important to you? What’s the takeaway?

These questions must be answered in this exact order.

Now let’s dive into the 4 different levels of reading, with particular focus on the second and third level.

Level 1 – Elementary Reading

Elementary Children Sitting on Brown Chairs Inside the Classroom with a teacher

If you’re reading this article, you have already mastered the first level of reading.

It’s the one that is taught to kids in elementary school.

The problem is that most people, even those who went on to higher levels of education, like high school and university, haven’t improved their reading skills beyond this level. 

And it shows, considering how many students struggle with reading effectively, and how their “best” strategy is to read and repeat something so many times until it is memorized, only to forget about it after a few days. (Yup, that was me.)

Level 2 – Inspectional Reading

Inspectional reading is the art of getting the most out of a book in a limited time. 

It’s all about being able to get the gist of the book, and decide if it truly deserves a more in-depth, analytical reading. 

This is useful, for example, when you’re at the bookstore and are not sure whether you want to buy a certain book or not.

Inspectional reading has two sub-levels: Systematic Skimming and Superficial Reading.

But before learning more about these, it’s important to quickly remind us of some of the things that get in the way of effective reading.

Bad Reading Habits and Speed-reading

Drawing of turtle reading a book and asking if turtles read books

The untrained readers have some bad habits that hinder their reading speed:

  • They sub-vocalize too much, which means that they pronounce in their head (almost) every word they read.
    Sub-vocalization is actually not inherently bad. In fact, trying to suppress it completely never works, it only makes reading more difficult.
    But it’s important to try to reduce it. There’s absolutely no need to pronounce every word you read, unless your task is to read a book out loud.
  • Their eyes fixate five or six times when reading each line.
    Why does the eye “fixate” when reading? That’s because the human eye is actually blind when it moves; it only sees when it stops.
    So, it’s basically like the eye stops every few words to take a “snapshot” of the words on the book.
    Untrained readers’ eyes take snapshots that contain only 2 or at most three words.
    But our mind is definitely capable of grasping more words “at a glance”, it doesn’t need you to take that many snapshots.
  • Their eyes regress once every 2-3 lines, meaning that they go back to sentences they’ve already read.
    It’s something our eyes naturally tend to do, so one might not even realize it.

    An easy solution is to use your finger, a pen, or a pencil, as a “pointer”. Move the pointer across the line and force yourself to keep up with it. You can gradually increase the speed at which you move your pointer, so you can become able to read faster.

Now, about speed reading…

The truth is: reading fast is not the most important goal, comprehension is. 

In fact, speed reading’s biggest problem is precisely that it allows you to read faster, but at the cost of being unable to keep an equally high level of comprehension.

The idea here is that you shouldn’t want to merely read faster, but to read at different speeds, and to know when the different speeds are appropriate.

Because, let’s face it, there are some books that really don’t deserve an accurate read. In these cases, it’s perfectly fine to increase your reading speed.

“Every book should be read no more slowly than it deserves, and no more quickly than you can read it with satisfaction ad comprehension.”
— Mortimer J. Adler

Now that we’re done with our little digression, let’s get back to the two sub-levels of inspectional reading.

Systematic Skimming (or Pre-reading)

Man reading and skimming through a book in the library

Skimming or pre-reading is the first sub-level of inspectional reading.

During this phase, you want to spend a few minutes to get an idea of what the book is about, so you can decide if it requires or deserves a more careful reading.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Take a look at the title and at the cover. If you pay attention, these can give you a lot of information.
    Most authors want to help the reader understand immediately what the book is about, so they use a descriptive title or subtitle.
    And if a book cover has an image, it’s often not completely random. For example, (of a fiction book) it can tell you how the characters look, where the story takes place, who is the main character, what genre the book is likely to be, etc.
  2. Study the table of contents and the preface. This will give you a clear view of how the book is structured. By reading the table of content you can get a good idea of the author’s intentions; and the preface, usually written by the very author of the book, will give you indications of the author’s special angle on the subject.
  3. Quickly skim through the index. This will tell you more or less what are the topics covered and what kind of language is used in the book.
  4. If you’re still not convinced, read some sentences or paragraphs of the pivotal chapters that you’ll likely have noticed when analyzing the table of contents, and look for signs of the book’s main idea.
  5. If after the previous steps you’re still not convinced, read the last chapter or the last few pages of the last chapter. Here, it’s pretty common for authors to sum up what they think is important. Of course, if you’re reading fiction, it is advisable not to do so, unless you enjoy spoilers (in the unlikely case you do, at least don’t be like those sadists that find pleasure in ruining the experience to others. Seriously, don’t.)
  6. Still haven’t decided whether you want to buy the book or not? Let me help you, don’t buy it. If it’s a book you already have, don’t read it.

All these steps shouldn’t take you much time. Ideally, 5-10 minutes are usually enough.

After skimming systematically, you should now know a good deal about the book.

Wait, I see you still have a question: “What about book reviews, like those on Amazon?”

I want to be honest with you: I’m not a big fan of book reviews, especially those on Amazon. 

Many people give negative reviews after reading only one chapter they didn’t like.

More often than not, people don’t even really try to understand a book, and leave a 1-star review.

This is not how you judge a book (more on how to critique a book in the analytical reading section). 

Positive reviews should be questioned about their credibility as well.

There are so many 5-star 10/10 reviews that are flat-out fake, “thanks” to some publishers that pay people that might or might not have read the book, like those restaurant owners that pay app users to leave a 5-star review to their own restaurant and 1-star to others.

Of course, there are also reviews that are actually useful. All I’m saying is that, like you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge a book by a review written by someone who judged the book by its cover. 

Friends Phoebe Buffay They don't know that we know they know we know
Still less confusing than what I just wrote above

“Superficial” Reading

Part two of inspectional reading. This is when you tackle for the first time a difficult book that is above your current level of understanding. 

Now, most of us are used to stop every time we encounter a difficult word or sentence that we don’t understand. We do so in order to spend time thinking or searching about it before resuming.

You do that, too? Then quit immediately, it’s not efficient.

When doing “superficial” reading, you should just read through the whole book without stopping to look up or ponder something that’s not immediately intelligible to you. 

During this phase, you should at most underline or circle words and sentences you think are important and/or things you don’t understand, but don’t look for an answer just yet.

After reading the book once, you’ll have a much better understanding on a second read. 

You will then look at the things you underlined and circled, and at the questions that you had when you were reading for the first time.

This time, you’ll be able to answer them more easily than if you had stopped every time during the first reading.

If you insist on understanding everything right away on every page before going on to the next, you’ll get lost. You will miss the forest for the trees. 

This is especially true if you’re reading a book in a foreign language that you’re still learning. If you stop at every word or sentence that you don’t immediately understand, good luck. You would probably feel frustrated and decide to quit.

Go through it, keep reading. Then, after the first read, come back and really get everything you can get out of the book.

Just like it’s easier to understand a movie on a second watch, so it’s easier to understand a book on a second read.

Now let’s get into the “final”* level. 

* “Final” because there’s actually another level after Analytical, and that is Syntopical reading, which consists of reading many different books in order to have an in-depth understanding of one single subject. But that’s not the purpose of this guide.

Final Level – Analytical Reading (or, How to Read a Book and Get the Most Out of It)

Magnifying glass to read a book carefully

At last we’re here, Analytical Reading!

This is where you will need to work hard to truly get the most out of the books you read. 

You will have to do your best in order to close the gap in understanding between you and the author.

We previously said that there are many books that absolutely do not deserve any kind of careful reading, and it still holds true.

But, there also a lot of great books that undoubtedly deserve a much better treatment than simply being read and then thrown somewhere in the house, waiting to be forgotten.

These books are worthy of Analytical Reading.

Adler states that there are three stages to Analytical Reading: 

  1. Finding what a book is about; 
  2. Interpreting the content of the book; 
  3. Properly criticizing a book. 

Each one has a number of steps to follow.

Note that this approach is intended more for non-fiction books than it is for fictions, although you can certainly benefit from it either way.

Also, keep in mind to do a Systematic Skimming before diving into the book with Analytical Reading. Ideally, you should also do a Superficial Reading after a quick skimming.

Finding What A Book Is About — Part One of Analytical Reading

During this first stage, you will have to find the book’s structure and its main purpose.

You are going to be answering the first basic question of intelligent reading: “What is the book about as a whole?”

Step 1 – What Book Are You Reading?

The first thing to do in analytical reading is finding out what kind of book you’re reading, and classifying it according to kind and subject.

Is it fiction? Or is it an expository work? Is it a practical book or a theoretical book? 

An expository work is any book where the author wants primarily to convey knowledge, and does so by giving opinions, theories, hypotheses, or speculations that they try to prove as true.

A theoretical book is different from practical books, since its main goal is to simply state the knowledge as a fact, to show you the what, while a practical book’s intention is to show you the how

But you can also transform any theoretical knowledge into practical knowledge by going from simply knowing something to also doing that something. 

For example, this guide shows you both the theory on how to read a book and the steps you need to follow to put this knowledge into practice.

In order to follow this first step, you will have to at least do a Systematic Skimming before anything else.

By doing so, you will set the way you read the rest of the book and you will also be able to expect some of the contents that might (or might not) show up.

Step 2 – What is the Main Theme?

Try to state what the main point of the book is. 

Be as brief as possible. Ideally, one sentence, or at most a short paragraph. 

This should be pretty easy, since you will probably have deduced it when looking at the title, subtitle, and cover of the book, during your inspectional reading.

You don’t need to dig too deep, just write the large main plot, like: “Aliens attack the Earth. Humans lose at first, but then strike back and in the end they defeat the invaders.”

Step 3 – How is the Book Structured?

A good book, like a good house, is an orderly arrangement of parts. 

Each room is different and has a certain amount of independence, but each must also be connected with all the other parts.

Just like houses are more or less livable, so books are more or less readable.

A good book generally has a pretty well organized structure, with its major parts clearly ordered to one another and to the main unit of the book. 

Your job as a reader is to outline the whole book to find the major parts, break these parts into sub-points, and then break these even further, so you can get a clear outline of the entire book and its sub-points.

Again, inspectional reading will help you greatly with getting an idea about how the book is structured.

An example you could follow to outline a book:

  • The author accomplished his plan in 3 parts
  • Part 1 is about X, Part 2 about Y, and Part 3 about Z.
  • Part 1 has three sections, of which the first considers this, the second considers that, and the third still another thing.
  • And so on…

This is just an example, you don’t need to follow this formula blindly. It’s ok to change it a little.

Step 4 – What Problem(s) Does the Author Try to Solve?

Every author starts with a question or a set of questions, and their book contains the answers, at least according to them.

Try to define the main question(s) the book tries to answer.

If the question is complex, state its sub-questions as well, then put everything in order.

Interpreting the Content of a Book — Part Two of Analytical Reading

This is the stage where you will answer to the second basic question of intelligent reading: “What is being said in detail, and how?”

Step 5 – Words and “Coming to Terms”

"Keywords" written with wooden Scrabble letters

A term is not a word. 

Or, more exactly, since words can have different meanings depending on the context, a term is a word when this is used with one specific meaning, 

Now, what does “coming to terms” mean in Analytical Reading?

In a few words: successful communication.

Writing a book and reading a book are both essentially an attempt of communication between the author and the reader.

When both parties use the same words with the same meaning, the communication has been successful, and they have “come to terms”.

In order to make the communication successful, it is required that the reader has the skill necessary to find the key words, interpret them and, after determining the meaning attributed to them by the author, come to terms.

“Just as teaching will not avail unless there is a reciprocal activity of being taught, so no author, regardless of his skill in writing, can achieve communication without a reciprocal skill on the part of readers.”

— Mortimer J. Adler

How to find keywords, you ask?

As a general rule of thumb, from the reader’s point of view, the most important words are usually those that give you trouble, although this is not always the case.

Another way to spot the important words is to recognize the explicit stress an author places on certain words by writing them in bold or in italic, or by repeating them frequently.

Finally, knowing the technical words of a certain field of knowledge is useful when you’re reading a book on a specific topic.

Step 6 – Bring Propositions Out of Sentences

Propositions are declarations of knowledge or opinion.

In a book, they are an expression of the author’s judgment about something.

Propositions support the main points the author wants to make. To find them, you need to first find the important sentences that contain them.

How to find the key sentences?

Like keywords, key sentences are usually those that require the reader to put in some effort in order to interpret them.

From the author’s point of view, the important sentences are those they use to express judgments, affirmations, denials, and the relative reasons for these.

You can also look at the important words you have found in the previous step, and use them to find the important sentences.

After finding the propositions, how to understand them?

The best way to test your understanding of the proposition(s) contained in a sentence is to try explaining it in your own words.

“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, then you don’t understand it yourself.”

— (supposedly) Albert Einstein

Step 7 – Find or Construct Arguments

Arguments are sequences of propositions, with a clear beginning and end, that support a particular conclusion.

In order to find the arguments, look for statements that try to give you reasons why you should or should not accept a conclusion. 

When you find these reasons, let them guide you to the conclusion. If you find conclusions first, go back to find the reasons.

Also, pay attention to what the author says is assumed as true, what is proved to be true, and what doesn’t need proof because is self-evident. These are all possible arguments.

Step 8 – Find the Solutions

In Step 4 we had to define what were the problems that the author was trying to solve.

Now, after coming to terms with the author and understanding their propositions and arguments, you need to recognize if the problems have actually been solved or not.

Look at the questions you found during step 4 and see which have been solved and which not. For the unsolved problems, determine if the author knew they failed to solve them.

How to Read a Book and Properly Criticize It — Part Three of Analytical Reading

Speech bubbles of people discussing about a book

After reading and understanding a book, you have to make some criticism.

“There is no book so good that no fault can be found with it.”

— Mortimer J. Adler

It is your obligation as a reader to respect the author by judging their work. But you have to do it the right way.

This is the last stage of Analytical Reading and must come after the previous two.

After this stage, you will have to answer to the third and fourth basic questions of intelligent reading: “Is the book true, in whole or in part?” and “What of it?”

Step 9 – “I understand” before “I agree, I disagree, or I suspend judgment”

Always keep an open mind and really do your best to understand the author before saying “I understand” and making or suspending judgment.

Criticism (which, by the way, doesn’t necessarily mean to disagree, like some readers might think) should never, ever, be done before trying your hardest in order to understand a book.

“To agree without understanding is inane. To disagree without understanding is impudent.”

— Mortimer J. Adler

Suspending judgment is also a kind of criticism. It means that the author didn’t convince or persuade you one way or the other. 

Oh and, “I don’t understand” is a criticism as well. It means that the book didn’t explain things well. But hesitate before saying it. 

First, do your best to understand, and then, if you still don’t understand something, only then, it means that it’s the book’s fault.

Judging something only after really understanding it is a form of respect towards both the author and the book.

Step 10 – Remember, This Is Not a Fight

When you after all do disagree with the author and the book, remember that this is not a fight

No one is trying to insult you, therefore you should not be aggressive. Well, you should never be aggressive to begin with.

Whether you agree or disagree, always be motivated by facts only, don’t let emotions dictate the way you act in either case.

The main goal is always learning the truth and solving a problem, it’s not a childish argument where winning is the only thing that matters.

You should be prepared to have your mind changed as much as you are prepared to change the other person’s mind. 

You must recognize that there’s always the chance that you might have misunderstood or that you might be ignorant about something. Always.

Even if it means admitting that you are the one that was wrong, it’s perfectly fine, as long as both parties want to reach an agreement.

Every disagreement is an occasion to teach or to be taught, and your opinion can be changed as much as you can change other people’s minds. It’s perfectly normal.

Stick figures fighting and quote by Mortimer Adler

Step 11 – Give Valid Reasons, and Know That Knowledge Is Not Personal Opinion

Every issue where there’s knowledge involved is an issue that can be solved.

However, it’s important to know the difference between knowledge and mere personal opinion.

An opinion is an unsupported judgment. Knowledge, on the other hand, is made of opinions that can be defended.

If you agree or disagree without giving valid reasons for your judgment, then you’re treating knowledge as if it were an opinion, and you’re not working toward a resolution of the issue.

Always back your judgments with valid reasons. 

No, “I don’t like it” is not a valid reason.

Step 12 – Essential Conditions for Intelligent Disagreements

Apart from the main rule (understanding before judging), there are 3 conditions necessary for intelligent disagreements:

  1. Acknowledge the emotions, but state reasons, don’t vent feelings. During a dispute, emotions will arise for sure, but do not let them control you. When disagreeing, be objective and convince the other part only by using facts and valid reasons;
  2. Both you and your “opponent” (in this case, the author) have assumptions and prejudices, you’re not more (or less) entitled to believe that you are right and they are wrong. Acknowledge this fact, and you will have a fair “fight”;
  3. Be impartial, try to take the other’s point of view. Just because you don’t like it, it doesn’t mean that the other person’s (the author’s) argument is wrong.

Step 13 – Judging the Author’s Faults

We’ve made it pretty clear that, before making any criticism, the reader must first understand the book. 

If you don’t understand something, then you should probably go back and work on the book.

However, that’s not always the case.

As we discussed in Step 9, “I don’t understand” can also be a critical judgment. In this case, you must support your claim.

You must be specific. This means that not only you need to have valid reasons to support your judgment, but you also must be able to locate the sources of trouble.

Now, after having said “I understand, but I disagree”, a reader can usually disagree with the author about four main points:

  • Uninformed;
  • Misinformed;
  • Illogical;
  • Analysis is incomplete.

“You Are Uninformed!”

You are saying that the author lacks a piece of knowledge that is relevant to the main problem.

Your job as a reader: state what important knowledge is lacking. Also, demonstrate why it is actually relevant and can make a difference.

For example, Ptolemy wrote treatises in which he stated that the Earth was at the center of the Universe. But you know that Ptolemy couldn’t know that the Earth actually rotates around the Sun.

“You Are Misinformed!”

This means that the author states something as true when in reality it is actually false or not probable

This could be caused by lack of knowledge, but this kind of error is worse: it is claiming to have knowledge and making assertions that are clearly contrary to fact.

This mistake should be pointed out if it influences the author’s conclusions. If it doesn’t, you can abstain, if you want.

Your job as a reader: show a truth that you know to be true or at least more plausible than the author’s.

Just to make an example, let’s say a modern author wrote a book about how trains are the fastest means of transport. This is clearly not true, and the author should know that. When making your criticism, show that airplanes are actually faster than trains.

In our example, stating that planes are faster than trains is relevant to the author’s conclusion.

But if the author had, for whatever reason, also written that pizza originated in America, you wouldn’t have to point it out (unless you wanted to). The statement doesn’t influence the main conclusion in any way, even though it’s horribly wrong. We all know that pizza’s place of origin is grandpa Mario’s pizzeria.

“You Are Illogical!”

You’re saying that the author has made one or both of the following fallacy in reasoning:

  1. The conclusion does not follow from the reasons previously offered;
    e.g. “Sunny days are ideal for running, therefore watching too much TV is bad for your eyes.”
  2. The reasoning is inconsistent, meaning that two or more things that the author said are incompatible.
    e.g. No example needed, you surely know a few people who constantly contradict themselves.

Your job as a reader: show exactly where the author lacks clarity and cogency.

“Your Analysis Is Incomplete!”

At this point, if you have failed to demonstrate why the author is uninformed, misinformed, or illogical, you should just agree.

If you still disagree even though you can’t find anything wrong with the author’s reasoning, you’re just expressing your emotions and prejudices, you’re saying that you simply don’t like the conclusions. 

Maybe you didn’t really understand the author’s points, after all.

Unless you can prove one of the previous 3 points (uninformed, misinformed, illogical), you cannot disagree. If you do, you are the one being illogical.

Though, you are free to dislike whatever you want.

Just make sure you don’t let this dislike bias your judgment, which should be impartial and purely based on valid reasons.

Anyway, even though you can’t logically disagree, you can still remark that the author’s analysis is incomplete, meaning that they didn’t manage to solve every problems the started with, or maybe they didn’t use the material in the best way possible.

Your job as a reader: define precisely the inadequacy, either by your own effort or by consulting other material.

As you can see, all these 4 last points require that you be specific. You need to show exactly what the problem is, where it is, and how it could be solved. 

If you can’t do that, think twice before deciding to disagree. It’s always possible that you didn’t understand the book.

“The person who says he knows what he thinks, but cannot express it, usually does not know what he thinks.”

— Mortimer J. Adler

How to Read a Book: The Ultimate Guide — CONCLUSION

Congratulations, you did it!

When you first tackle a difficult book, there’s an initial inequality in understanding, meaning that the author is at first far superior than you when it comes to the understanding of the book’s topic.

However, by applying all the steps contained in the three stages of Analytical Reading, you’ve been able to close (almost, let’s be humble here) the initial gap between you and the author.

Reading a great book and getting the most out of it is definitely not an easy task, but it’s 100% worth it.

On your road to success, there are many skills that you must learn, and reading is one of them.

Not only reading is an important skill, it’s one of the most important skills every person should learn in life, and it deserves all the time and energy required for learning and honing it.

Do not absolutely underestimate the importance of this skill. Why do you think that literally every successful person is also a voracious reader?

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
(Read quickly five times in a row and you’ll win a million dollars)

By following this guide, you will become better and better at reading and understanding books that the average person is too lazy and not skilled enough to read.

But remember: the whole process of Analytical Reading is just a description of the ideal performance. 

You don’t have to be always able to read in this exact ideal manner. In fact, as we previously stated, not every book deserves the same kind of reading. 

If you used Analytical Reading for every book, your enjoyment for reading would lessen. And it would be a very time-consuming thing to do, as well.

Some books don’t deserve this kind of reading, but many do.

And for those books that are really good, you should, nonetheless, always keep the ideal performance in mind and do your best to perform as well as you can.

I know, it’s not easy. But, like any other skill, it’s a matter of practice. It just requires a little more practice than other skills, that’s all.

The most important thing is that you don’t give up, and keep reading, reading, and reading. 

Practicing the art of reading books will seriously set you apart and increase your chances of becoming successful, by a lot.

You will become a better learner, a better thinker, a better person.

All thanks to those magical things called Books.

What great book are you reading or planning to read?

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