The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Taking up a book

Much has been written on how to read books. Austin Kleon shared lately how to read like an artist where his emphasis is on how reading books enriched his life. I like the way he takes the position that reading is all about loving what you read and noticing what it is that you love.

Mortimer J. Adler wrote the classicHow to read a book”. What he suggested was more than how to read one book, it was how to approach and learn a worthwhile subject. The individual book is one element in the reading. One that can only be understood well if there is enough engagement in the subject to understand it and learn how one book fits into it. It is not astonishing that engaging with books in the way Adler suggests takes much more time and effort than the reading itself may take.

In any case, something worthwhile remembering is the attitude we can have when taking up a book we seek to learn from. Is it to search for an answer or is it to be curious about the way the author answers a question?

In the first case, the author is taken as an authority one has to follow or reject. Such reading can lead to assuming a methodical implementation of the suggested method.

In the second case, the work is to see if it is possible to see the book from their perspective. In this case, when implementing the learning the reading will be there to relate to the author’s experience. Instead of following what seems to be the method, the reading invites us to question one’s own experience and relate it to the one we’ve been reading about.


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