I have spent the past few weeks moving and that means sore muscles, irritation with converting new email address, a website not recognizing my new email account, though I clearly changed it, more irritation being blocked out of one site, and still more irritation spending 2 and 1/2 hours on the phone with a computer tech trying to solve a simple problem that escalated to worse problems-he was good-I was just not understanding, a clear case of miscommunication.
I bring this up because I still have a college textbook entitled “How to Read a Book,” and I thought about how writers say to read a lot in order to become a better writer. But do we know how to read, how to really read?
Of course we know how to read you say, after all I am reading you this moment and I know what you are saying.
However. . .
The book written by Mortimer Adler and published in 1940 is still a widely used book. Considered a classic, just below the title, the subtext says, “The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading.” So it is about reading between the lines if you will. It discusses analytical reading and how to read practical books, imaginative literature, history, science and mathematics, philosophy, social science, and suggestions for reading stories, plays, and poems.
In Part Two, chapter seven, Adler talks about x-raying the book. How to outline the book, the arts of reading and writing, discovering the authors intentions. Adler is laying out a game plan for readers, helping them to discover what we authors are doing. Very sneaky.
So if you are a writer of fiction, buy the book or check it out of the library. Knowing the strategy of reading should help you with the strategy of writing. And if you are highly creative, have a diabolical imagination, you can read Adler and subvert your fiction to confuse readers. We need deeper subtexts, inverted structures, obfuscate the true meaning of your work, anything to keep readers from getting close to the truth. If it’s easy the reader gets bored.
My website: http://terrynelson.net/