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Adler explains for whom the book is intended, defines different classes of reading, and tells which classes will be addressed. He also makes a brief argument favoring the Great Books and explains his reasons for writing How to Read a Book.

There are three types of knowledge: practical, informational, and comprehensive. He discusses the methods of acquiring knowledge, concluding that practical knowledge, though teachable, cannot be truly mastered without experience; that only informational knowledge can be gained.

Understanding equals the author’s; that comprehension (insight) is best learned from who first achieved said understanding — an “original communication”.

Part II: The Third Level of Reading: Analytical Reading

Here, Adler sets forth his method for reading a non-fiction book to gain understanding. He claims that three distinct approaches, or readings, must all be made to get the most possible out of a book, but that performing these three levels of readings does not necessarily mean reading the book three times, as the experienced.

Reader will be able to do all three in the course of reading the book just once. Adler names the readings “structural”, “interpretative”, and “critical”, in that order.

Why I Hate Reading

Interpretive Stage: The second stage of analytical reading involves constructing the author’s arguments.

Critical Stage: In the third stage of analytical reading, Adler directs the reader to critique the book. He asserts that upon understanding the author’s propositions and arguments, the reader has been elevated to the author’s level of understanding and is now able (and obligated) to judge the book’s merit and accuracy.