One philosopher once said that even though the literacy levels in the world have increased, people still do not know what to read. I’d like to add a line to that quote and say that people don’t know how to read, specifically, intelligent reading. For this reason, we have compiled this guide loosely based on ‘How to Read a Book’ by Mortimer Alder to help people get the most value from books. So below are the 5 guidelines:

1. Find your Interest

The first step is to find a topic or field that interests you and then read on it. Topics could range from personal finance to spirituality or anything else you find important. Once you start reading, your mind becomes more receptive to new ideas and the interest grows leading you to dig deeper into the subjects you’re educating yourself on. This makes learning much easier and understanding much better and you become more intelligent.

2. Read within your level

One mistake people make when handling complex subjects is to read material above their current level of understanding. This, of course, makes learning difficult and sometimes leads to frustration and eventually one gives up altogether. Therefore it’s advisable to start at a level you can grasp and then progress bit by bit until you are comfortable with the more complex subject matter. It’s like going to the gym, you don’t lift 200 pounds on the first day!

3. Break into parts

The average book is about 200 pages and the amount of information in it can be overwhelming. To make things simpler, it would be wise to divide the book into parts starting with the main topics the author is talking about to the subtopics. The key is to understand the main arguments being made and not to get lost in minor and possibly irrelevant details.

4. Understand before you criticize

They say you shouldn’t believe everything you read, which is true but also you shouldn’t be quick to criticize before you understand. Ensure you understand the author’s point of view and determine whether you agree with his conclusions. It would also be wise to do a little research on the author to understand the context of his work. This is because sometimes writers are driven by incentives which make their work biased.

5. Read more than once

Repetition is key to storing information. If you find a book that you completely resonate with and impacts your life, re-read it and absorb the information. One key advantage of doing this is that you get to understand the author and his work better. You easily identify parts you agree or disagree with, you get to see where the author is illogical or under-informed and in the end, all these abilities make you more intelligent.

Books will change your life, but they will only do that if you can harness all the knowledge in them. The way to harness that knowledge is through intelligent reading which has been addressed in this guide. If you’re a reader the above five guidelines will help you steer the sometimes uncalm waters of knowledge.

The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading