Here is an excerpt from on how to read a non-fiction book followed by a book review on How to Read a Book: A Classic Guide to Intelligent Thinking by Mortimer Adler & Charles Van Doren

250 Words launched on February 3rd, 2014. Four days a week, I feature a smart non-fiction book that, in my opinion, people in business will find useful. If you do the math, that’s about 130 books. After helming 250 Words for eight months, I thought I’d answer a question I frequently receive from readers: Do I read every word of every book?

No. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. When I ask people in business what books they’re reading, I usually hear something like this: “I love to read, but I often bail after 50 pages, not because the books I read are bad, but because my to-read list is so daunting. I feel guilty for not finishing books.”

In “How to Read a Book,” Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren compare reading to a game of catch–a pitcher won’t always throw a strike and the catcher must make adjustments


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Non-Fiction Book: How to Read a Book – Description

How To Read A Non-Fiction Book:  Guide to Intelligent Thinking

How to Read a Book: A Classic Guide to Intelligent Thinking by Mortimer Adler & Charles Van Doren

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, How to Read a 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.

Non-Fiction Book: How to Read a Book – Review

“These four hundred pages are packed full of high matters which no one solicitous of the future of American culture can afford to overlook.” (Jacques Barzun)

How to Read a Book shows concretely how the serious work of proper reading may be accomplished and how much it may yield in the way of instruction and delight.” (The New Yorker)

About the Author

Dr. Mortimer J. Adler was Chairman of the Board of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Director of the Institute for Philosophical Research, Honorary Trustee of the Aspen Institute, and authored more than fifty books. He died in 2001.

Dr. Charles Van Doren earned advanced degrees in both literature and mathematics from Columbia University, where he later taught English and was the Assistant Director of the Institute for Philosophical Research. He also worked for Encyclopedia Britannica in Chicago.