How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren (paperback)

How_To_Read_A_BookHow to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren

Paperback: 426 pages

Publisher: Touchstone; Revised edition (August 15, 1972)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0671212095

ISBN-13: 978-0671212094





With half a million copies in print, How to Read a Book is the best and most successful guide to reading comprehension for the general reader, completely rewritten and updated with new material.

Originally published in 1940, this book is a rare phenomenon, a living classic that introduces and elucidates the various levels of reading and how to achieve them—from elementary reading, through systematic skimming and inspectional reading, to speed reading. Readers will learn when and how to “judge a book by its cover,” and also how to X-ray it, read critically, and extract the author’s message from the text.

Also included is instruction in the different techniques that work best for reading particular genres, such as practical books, imaginative literature, plays, poetry, history, science and mathematics, philosophy and social science works.

Finally, the authors offer a recommended reading list and supply reading tests you can use measure your own progress in reading skills, comprehension, and speed.


Book Reviews:

How to Read a Book – Jeremy Anderberg

“1. Open book.

2. Read words.

3. Close book.

4. Move on to next book.

Reading a book seems like a pretty straightforward task, doesn’t it? And in some cases, it is. If you’re reading purely for entertainment or leisure, it certainly can be that easy. There’s another kind of reading, though, in which we at least attempt to glean something of value from the book in our hands (whether in paper or tablet form). In that instance, you might be surprised to learn that it’s not as simple as opening the book and reading the words.” read more…


How to Read a Book: The Rules for Analytical Reading – Justin Taylor

Listen to Our Discussions of This Book

Listen to Our Discussions of This Book

“Last night I pulled off my shelf Mortimer Adler’s classic, How to Read a Book. It’s been several years since I worked through the book, but a review of the underlining and written notes testify to how much it influenced me. I’ll share in a separate post a particular section that has marked me indelibly.” read more…


How to Read a Book – Bob Passantino

“When I first read the title of Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book, I wondered what book I needed to read to learn how to read How to Read a Book! All kidding aside, far from teaching basic reading skills, Adler was, instead, interested in helping people learn how to get the most out of what they read and how to know in advance how helpful a given book will be. As book review editor, I regularly follow Adler’s advice.” read more…

3 thoughts on “How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren (paperback)

  1. Hello,

    We are a not-for-profit educational organization founded by Mortimer Adler and we have recently made an exciting discovery—three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos—lively discussing the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost.

    Three hours with Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren, lively discussing the art of reading on one DVD. A must for all readers, libraries and classroom teaching the art of reading.

    I cannot exaggerate how instructive these programs are—we are so sure that you will agree, if you are not completely satisfied, we will refund your donation.

    Please go here to see a clip and learn more:

    ISBN: 978-1-61535-311-8

    Thank you,

    Max Weismann, Co-founder with Dr. Adler

  2. Dear Mr. Weismann,

    Thank you for making available to us these instructive ressources. However, the website seem to be down; I get a 403 permission denied.

    I would be most grateful to you if you could help me access the website.


    Paris, France

  3. That is actually an automated message from the Great Ideas website. They have posted it on nearly every page where we have mentioned the book on CredoCovenant. Just FYI, when I click on it, the website comes up. It may be something to do with your internet provider or service area. Soli Deo Gloria.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s