"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Since my college days, reading has always been my most passionate past-time, even though I read mostly non-fiction stuff.

I reckon it will continue to be that way for a very long time. Currently, just like Dilip Mukerjea, I am also a voracious reader.

For me, Amazon & Kinokuniya Bookweb are currently my most active sources of good books. I do sometimes pop into 'brick & mortar' stores like Harris, Page One & Times, to check out their inventory.

Towards the end of 1991, as part of my journey through mid-life transition, I had actually established & owned a small retail store (aptly called 'The Brain Resource') to deal exclusively in learning, thinking & creativity books, in conjunction with the formation of my own strategy consulting business.

Since then (& till mid-2005 when I decided to withdraw from all retail operations), the store had given me abundant access to a lot of great books.

At the same time, it also fuelled & bankrolled my relentless reading pursuits.

One of the first few books I had read - & eventually sold in my own store - was 'How to Read a Book' by Mortimer Adler.

[It was Patricia Danielson, co-developer of the PhotoReading technology from the United States, who had first introduced me to the book. Many thanks to you, Patricia!]

In a nut shell, the book illustrated the art & discipline of how to be an intelligent as well as a demanding reader.

It was also the first book that had set the ball rolling in my continuing search for better understanding of the reading faster/better comprehension equation.

In the first instance, this book introduced me to the four specific levels of reading & reading comprehension, each requiring a specific set of reading strategies.

The author made very clear distinctions between the four levels (as outlined below), as well as between learning, reading, thinking & understanding:

- elementary reading;

- inspectional reading;

- analytical reading;

- syntopical reading;

The author also put a lot of emphasis on the third level of reading, with useful techniques for classifying books, probing understanding, criticising passages, & challenging - & provoking - the authors.

For those readers, especially students, who demand more effective reading performance in the academic environment, there were subject-specific reading strategies to follow. All the reading strategies, covering literature, history, science, mathematics, philosophy & social science, were systematically covered by the author.

In retrospect, I reckon that the most productive personal learning experiences I got out of this wonderful book were firstly, the techniques for marking the book while reading (or marginal notations) & secondly, syntopical reading, which enabled me to digest several books within the same genre simultaneously.

Today, I absolutely love marginal annotations & syntopical reading!

Hence, I have no hesitation at all in considering Mortimer Adler's book, despite the fact that it was originally published in the 1940s, to be the best & unparalleled in the genre.

On the slightly adverse side, I must admit that the book is not easy to read, because of its rather sober tone, & also considering the fact that the language facility actually reflects that particular era.

Hence, I do understand the sentiment of the GenYers as to why they simply do not like to touch the book.

Nevertheless, I strongly recommend this book to anyone, who wants to read faster & comprehend better, to get hold of & read this book in the first instance.

During the ensuing years, I came across a few other books which had also influenced & helped in expanding my personal repertoire of high-performance reading skills & techniques:

- 'Super Reading Secrets', by Howard Berg;

- 'Breakthrough Rapid Reading', by Peter Kump;

- 'PhotoReading The Whole Mind System', by Paul Scheele;

I may review each of them separately & share with readers what I had learned from them specifically.

1 comment:

Max Weismann said...

We are a not-for-profit educational organization, founded by Mortimer Adler and we have recently made an exciting discovery--three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos on the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost.

Three hours with Mortimer Adler on one DVD. A must for libraries and classroom teaching the art of reading.

I cannot over exaggerate how instructive these programs are--we are so sure that you will agree, if you are not completely satisfied, we will refund your donation.

Please go here to see a clip and learn more: