I feel terrible saying this, but I am so glad to be done with this book. It wasn’t a bad book exactly, but I now come away from it thinking “Hmm. I guess I already knew how to read a book.” That fact seems like it should’ve been pretty self-evident.
I think that the problem with this kind of book (and I’d say the same for books that teach you how to read the Bible) is that it is explaining things in explicit detail that should come naturally to a good reader. I think that what is said is true, but I also think that if you tried to follow it without having already developed the skills then you’d just end up frustrated.
The authors use skiing as an example of a similar activity to the kind of reading they want you to learn. I think this is very accurate. When you first learn to ski, you are trying to think of so many things that you must do: don’t lean back, push your shins forward, put your weight on the bottom ski, don’t face your skis back uphill, etc. You’re only a good skier when you can do all of these things without thinking about it. As long as you are trying to follow the rules, you will never be comfortable on skis.
I think the same thing would happen if you were a below-average (or even average?) reader and you tried to follow the rules of this book. The theory is sound, but it is more of an art than a science.
In my last post I included their quote on the dictionary ::I’m rolling my eyes right now:: but at the end they have a few words on children in the section on how to read philosophical books. Since that goes well with my blog, I thought I’d share.
(When talking about the simple questions kids ask like “Why are people?” or “What’s the world’s first name?”)
Why should we have to try to develop such minds, when children are born with them? Somewhere along the line, adults must fail somehow to sustain the infant’s curiosity at its original depth. School itself, perhaps, dulls the mind–by the dead weight of rote learning, much of which may be necessary. The failure is probably even more often the parents’ fault. We so often tell a child there is no answer, even when one is available, or demand that he ask no more questions. We thinly conceal our irritation when baffled by the apparently unanswerable query. All this discourages the child. He may get the impression that it is impolite to be too inquisitive.
Very true… well with the possible exception of the line about rote learning being necessary. Then they must go on to say
Children are much concerned with the difference between good and bad; their behinds are likely to suffer if they make mistakes about it.
Moving right along:
I hope that the rest of the books on the Serious Times list are a little better. If they aren’t then I might be abandoning their list for another one. I feel like How to Read a Book might have actually sucked away the skills that I already used in reading. Blah.
Good night and happy reading!