Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How to Read a Book

I just read a great article by Susan Wise Bauer. She suggests that we are not challenging ourselves (or our children) enough to read books beyond our reading level. She gives suggestions on how to do this as well as how to find the time to read more.

She says that we should be careful not to judge a book's content until we have read it all the way through and thought about it:

“Some books are to be tasted," wrote the sixteenthcentury philosopher Francis Bacon, “others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." In other words, there are three stages to understanding any book. First, you read the book at what I call the “grammar stage" level; just get through the book and try to understand the basic principles, the basic story, the basic argument. Don't try to understand all of the book. Just create a mental overview of the ideas. The second stage of reading is the logic stage: after you've read the whole book, stop and think about what the book is saying, how it's saying it, and try to decide whether or not you agree with it. And then, finally, you enter the third stage of reading: the rhetoric stage, in which you form an opinion about the book. Unfortunately, we have been trained from our earliest days to pick up a piece of writing and go straight to the rhetoric stage. Our first question, after we read twenty pages, is “What do I think about this book?" This habit of thought is epidemic, something that we're taught to do from very early on.

And that's our problem.

Read the entire article here.


Carrie said...

Amen to this! Thanks for the link!

Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict said...

I had a professor tell the class that in order to really understand a book we should read it at least twice. The first reading is to read the story, but the second reading should be critical. I think it's true. I'll have to check out the article.

Dana said...

Oooh, very interesting. Thanks for sharing!