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Hurt comments on The Best Textbooks on Every Subject - Less Wrong

167 Post author: lukeprog 16 January 2011 08:30AM

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Comment author: Hurt 17 January 2011 01:23:47PM 8 points [-]

While the following isn't really a textbook, I highly recommend it for helping you to improve your skill as a reader. "How to Read a Book" by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren. It covers a variety of different techniques from how to analytically take apart a book to inspectional techniques for getting a quick overview of a book.

I never knew how to read analytically, I had never been taught any techniques for actually learning from a book. I always just assumed you read through it passively.


Comment author: jsalvatier 17 January 2011 04:14:39PM 1 point [-]

It looks interesting, but I am surprised it's 400 pages long, is there really that much in the way of reading strategies?

Comment author: Hurt 17 January 2011 11:07:36PM 5 points [-]

It has a fairly large appendix (~70 pgs) of recommended reading and sample tests/examples at the end of the book. It also has several sections on reading subject specific matter i.e. How to read History, Philosophy, Science, Practical books, etc. It also covers agreeing or disagreeing with an author, fairly criticizing a book, aids to reading. I think reading strategies may have been too narrow a choice of words. It really covers the "Art of Reading". A good set of English classes would probably cover similar ground, although I didn't see anything like this in my high school or undergraduate education.

Comment author: [deleted] 27 January 2011 06:31:21PM 0 points [-]

Second the vote for this book, though there is quite a bit of fluff (most of the chapters on strategies for readings specific topics I found less than useful) - it really does a great job of explaining how to extract information from a book.

The key insight I took away was that a book isn't just a long string of words broken up into various sections - a book is a little machine that produces an argument, and to really understand that argument you need to figure out what the machine is doing.