I have been very encouraged by what I've read of this book so far. It has a different feel to it than The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. It is sort of hard to explain in just a few words, but I guess it feels more like a story than the "how to" book its name would imply.
For example, Mr. Adler speaks about how learning to be an analytical reader is a difficult task, but one that is well-worth the effort. In Chapter 5, he compares it to learning to ski, or some equally complex task. At first you have to concentrate on each of the different 'rules', and it's all so difficult and hard and frustrating. But as you get each step to become habit and natural, you can begin to move from just trying to stay up, into feeling the flow of the hill and the rush of the air.
This is especially meaningful to me. I know how I get when things are difficult and 0verwhelming --- I want to give up! I'm lazy intellectually because I was never challenged intellectually. School was always very easy for me, so when faced with a mental challenge (or any other kind of challenge), I gave up. It's one of the reasons I don't like to read difficult books. It's hard. My brain doesn't take as naturally to words as it does to numbers. Now I see there might be reason that I gave up: nobody ever taught me the 'rules' of how to be an analytical reader. But it's never too late to learn!
Mr. Adler agrees with a point that Mrs. Bauer made in her book: When you are reading a difficult book, it's OK for the first reading to be a ' just get through it' sort of thing. Mr. Adler calls this an "inspectional reading", which sounds much more official than "just get through it". That idea never occurred to me before! I can't tell you how many times I would start books and give up because they were hard for me. I couldn't understand everything that was going on! The notion of keeping on going because it might all fall into place later, or the fact that you get more from half-understanding a hard book than from completely grasping an easy book, never crossed my mind.
So I learned some important things from these first 5 chapters:
- These first efforts are going to be hard, and messy
- It's not going to be pretty at the start, and I'm going to make mistakes
- The more I do this, the easier it will get
- The results will be worth it!