It's Monday of a long weekend here in Canada and I've just finished up Maryanne Wolf's Reader, Come Home; I'll do a full write-up in the coming weeks as I get through my read pile! If you have been following me on Instagram, you can see from the notes, that I've gone a bit deeper this time around. As mentioned last week I'm now incorporating Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book into each of my book notes and thought I'd provide a little insight into the process over the coming weeks. Adler breaks down the reading process into being able to critically analyze a book in excruciating detail. His book is an absolute killer but it takes a strong determination to get through it all.
Coincidentally, Wolf's book also covers this topic (critical analysis) from the perspective of reading books as we shift to a digital age. I'll leave you with this to consider before moving on: We live in an ever-growing digital world with more and more distractions. What is the impact on the brain to this constant distraction and always switching tasks? Will our critical analysis skills fall away? .
Ok, back to the post! Over the next 4 study posts (be sure to follow along on Instagram), I'll cover Adler's four key questions. As noted above, his book is killer for breaking down how to start thinking critically about the books you read and not just skim through them. If you are like me, you enjoy the process of learning and ultimately becoming more knowledgeable about yourself and the world. To begin then, this week we will start with Question #1.
Question 1: What is this book about as a whole?
As you read through your books, you always want to have this central question at the back of your mind. What is this book about taken as a whole? Not just what the back cover or inserts are telling me, but what is the author trying to tell me throughout the book.
It sounds simple, and yet many of us (I'm guilty of it too) can get through a book and find ourselves unable to truly answer this question. Is it enough to read through an entire book and not be able to answer that question? If you are like me, the answer is usually no.
Priming ourselves ahead of time by asking the question as we progress helps to keep the central arguments close to mind. Sometimes the act of actually writing the question down and trying to answer it also helps crystallize what we took from the book. The front page can tell us the author's intent but when we answer this question "as a whole" we are layering in our understanding as well. We are taking what the author has told us and merging it with our knowledge. As Proust would say, we are standing at the endpoint of the author's wisdom and the beginning of our own.
Do you find yourself stepping back at the end of your book and answering this type of question?
As you can see from my notability setup, all of my book notes are now including this type of question. Given these generally require a little more thought and time, I flip the iPad keyboard up and use notability's text feature to type out fill paragraphs and really let my understanding hit the page. One of the nice things about digital notes is that you can either write/draw your notes using the Apple pencil or you can also use the text feature and type. I usually type if what I want to capture is long or my ideas need a bit more time to develop. I also type much faster then I can write so it can be useful to dump the ideas before they escape.
Well, I hope you found that somewhat useful. I'll be back in a week to explore Question #2 and share a bit more insight into the note-taking process I've been developing.
Beer: Today's beer is the ever delicious Delirium Red, a beer that holds a special place in my heart as being a part of my adventures in Tokyo and Brussels and the Delirium Cafe's in both places. An 8% fruit beer ("kriek") that packs a punch. A special shoutout to @mpibeers and @deliriumtremenscanada for sending this Delirium care package over! It was especially nice to see this beer in Canada as I haven't had the fortune to find it on shelves here.