How to Read a Book

by Mortimer J. 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.

A CNN Book of the Week: “Explains not just why we should read books, but how we should read them. It's masterfully done.” –Farheed Zakaria

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.

  • Touchstone; May 2011
  • ISBN: 9781439144831
  • Read online, or download in secure ePub format
  • Title: How to Read a Book
  • Author: Mortimer J. Adler; Charles Van Doren
  • Imprint: Touchstone

In The Press

"These four hundred pages are packed full of high matters which no one solicitous of the future of American culture can afford to overlook."


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.