How to read a book 之分析阅读

The first stage of analytical reading consists of finding out what the book is really about.

  • First, one “pigeonholes” the book —— categorizes the book. (分类)
  • Next,  to “X-ray” it —— Formulate a brief statement about the book’s content and purpose. (中心思想)
  • Then, the next move is to identify its constituent parts through (briefly) outlining the major sections. (段落大意)

The second stage of analytical reading:  interpretation, or figuring out what exactly the author is saying.

  • Identify the author’s key terms and figure out exactly how he uses them in his book.
  • Pinpoint the book’s key sentences to understand the author’s main propositions.
  • Then, figure out how those propositions are strung together to form arguments.
  •  Compare the author’s arguments to the problems he was attempting to solve in the book. Did he succeed?

The third stage of analytical reading: evaluation or criticism.

If you are going to disagree, make sure you distinguish between a “gut” feeling and an informed position.

There are basically three grounds for disagreeing with an author:

he is uninformed,

he is misinformed,

or he has made one or more logical errors in reasoning.

So, to disagree in an informed manner, you need either information the author did not have or the ability to identify logical errors.


The four basic questions of analytical reading are:

1. What is this book about?

2. What exactly is the author saying?

3. Is it true?

4. So what?)



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