Monday, September 15, 2008

The last of the preparations are complete!

Today I finished reading Chapters 14-15 of How to Read a Book. I skipped forward to these 2 chapters, because they deal specifically with how to read imaginative literature.

The "rules" for reading imaginative literature, and specifically stories, are different from reading an expository work. Mr. Adler does not seem to enumerate these "rules" as specifically as he does for expository work, but he does give a great foundation. I did not find lists of questions to answer, as there are in The Well-Educated Mind, but there is a good deal of the same advice. First and foremost, Mr. Adler encourages readers not to try to "resist the effect that a work of imaginative literature has on you." I was thrilled with that line, and I highlighted it in pink! LOL He encourages readers to read through a story as quickly and intensely as possible. Do not be anxious if you do not remember each character or each event as it is happening. As you read along, important characters will reveal themselves and important incidents will be recollected and connected to one another. Allow yourself to step into the world the author has created, and become a participant in the happenings! This advice sounds right up my alley!

Mr. Adler goes on to say when you have read a story analytically, you will be able to tell what happened in the story in a sentence or two. (I keep thinking of the flair on facebook that says, "It's this story about a girl and she falls in love with a vampire... no really, it's better than it sounds!"). You should also be able to order the parts of the story according to their relation to time (beginning, middle, end). Then you will not only be able to judge the book based upon whether you like it or don't like it, but also be able to tell if it's "good" or "bad" and why you feel that way. This analytical reading should enhance the enjoyment of a story!

Having read the pertinent sections of both Mr. Adler's book and Mrs. Bauer's book, I think the approach I will take with Bella's Bookshelf will be somewhere in the middle. I think I will need to start more with the questions that Mrs. Bauer offers in her book for a starting point, but I won't obsess over answering each one. And I won't let it interfere with the enjoyment of the story. Both authors recommend getting through the story in its entirety first and foremost, so I will do that, taking notes and underlining and turning down the corners on confusing parts in a brief manner. Then I will go back through and work to answer the questions. I will share each of these stages on this blog, and I hope you will share your experiences as well!

I'm going to begin working on Pride and Prejudice this evening! And I'm VERY excited!

2 comments:

Lisa said...

Can't wait to see how you apply all of this!

Max Weismann said...

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We have recently made an exciting discovery--three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos on the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost and are now available.

For those of you who teach, this is great for the classroom.

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Please go here to see a clip and learn more:

http://www.thegreatideas.org/