A Charlois Book Review

It has been said before, one of the best ways to participate in a self-improvement program is to read.  The question then becomes, do you know how to read?  Reading is a very complex activity, which many people really don’t do as well as they should.  It has been estimated that the average person reads on about the 6th grade level.  This is not adequate for the needs of someone who is desiring to become their best self.  The answer is, most of us could benefit from a reading development program.

From time-to-time I have worked on improving my reading skills, and intend to do so again, starting in a few days.  In the past I have focused on specific aspects of my reading; speed, vocabulary, comprehension, breadth, etc.  This time I’m putting together a comprehensive program that addresses the whole reading process.

The program will consist of a variety of approaches:  three books, an online study, and a reading practice, will all be a part of the program.  It should be understood that this is the program I will be following; you may use any of it that you desire, however I recommend designing your own program so as to get the best results.

The three books cover various aspects of reading.  The first, “Rapid Reading Made Simple,” covers elementary reading.  It focuses mainly on mechanics:  vocabulary building, speed work, and comprehension tools, all things taught, (or should be taught) in elementary school.

The second book is more about the strategy of reading.  While it contains additional practice with the basics, the main focus is on “reading with a purpose.”  “Work Smarter With Speed Reading,” is a little misleading.  It does cover some speed-reading techniques; however, the main thrust is on reading with a purpose and plan.  This is meant to speed you up by focusing your efforts on primarily reading material relevant to your needs.

 The third, and final book, “How To Read A Book,” by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren is the classic text written nearly eighty years ago.  It gives treatment to the four levels of reading: elementary reading, inspectional reading, analytical reading, and syntopical reading.  It gives one chapter to each: elementary, inspectional, and syntopical reading, then dedicates six chapters to analytical reading.  The reason appears to be that the authors view this as the most important aspect of reading, and should be accomplished by the time students graduate high school.

These three books will be read concurrently along with work on the online study and reading practice, conducted over a sixteen-week period.  The online work can be found on “The Daily Stoic” website found under our resources page.  Just go to their online store and find the “Read To Lead” link.

As far as the reading practice, it will consist of utilizing the Britannica, Great Books of The Western World and the introductory reading plan for that set of books.  That plan consists of fifteen readings with accompanying study materials.  In addition to that study, I will be devoting more time to my usual reading.

The three books I’ve mentioned may be found in used copies on the web.  The How to Read a Book is the only one that I know of that is still in print.

If you are serious about improving yourself, I suggest developing your own reading program.  There is no better way to grow than by reading.

Robert A. Charlois III

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