Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Craft of Reading

Sire, James W. How to Read Slowly: Reading for Comprehension. Waterbrook Press, 1989. 191 pp. ISBN: 978-0-87788-357-9

This book reminded me of Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book which is an excellent book that requires repeated reading. Is reading a craft? Sire believes it is and so do I. I have been asked multiple time by family members why do I read a book on how to read a book. Don't I know how to read a book. This question is answered by both Adler and Sire in their books. One must learn certain skills to become a good reader. Sire should know since he is a publisher of many books and formerly senior editor at InterVarsity Press books.

One might wonder about the title. Why would want to read slowly? The reason is that different types materials require different types reading. A famous author once said that some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. Some books are read for recreation, some read for information, and some read for wisdom. Both Adler and Sire covers these different levels of reading in their books. I think these two books are best read together. The reason is that Adler's book focuses on non-fiction and goes into more detail in analyzing non-fiction books. Sire, in contrast, covers non-fiction, poetry, and fiction. In addition, Sire covers how to read with the World-view of the author in mind. In chapter five of his book, Sire discusses the larger context: biographical, literary, historical, ideological and the reader's context. Both of these books will help the reader become a better reader.

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