📚You Have Been Reading Wrong Your Entire Life: The Four Levels Of Reading

📚You Have Been Reading Wrong Your Entire Life: The Four Levels Of Reading

Three years ago I read How To Read A Book and realized I had been reading wrong my entire life.

The problem is school doesn't teach us how to read. It only teaches us how to elementary read a book, but not how to do the three other levels of reading.

The three other levels of reading are where the true gold of linked reading comes from.

In this article I'm going to teach you what your school teachers never did--how to go to the bathroom without a bathroom pass. I'm just joking lol. I'm going to teach you the other three levels of reading.

By the end of this article, you're going to be so good at reading you'll make Mrs. Frizzle Jealous.

The Four Levels Of Reading

According to How To Read A Book there are four levels to reading:

  • Elementary reading: the type of reading we learn to do in school. We read THE words but we don't read BEYOND or BETWEEN the words.
  • Inspectional reading: reading to quickly scope out a text and inform if deeper reading should be done. Also reading through a text without pausing for at confusions so you can understand the argument in context.
  • Analytical reading: reading to deeply analyze a single book. There are four main chronological question stages to analytical reading:
    • What is the book about as a whole?
    • What is being said in detail and how?
    • Is the book true, in whole or in part?
    • Why is it significant?
  • Synoptical reading: reading by putting multiple books in conversation with each other to further discussion on a research question. It works through crafting a preliminary bibliography on a subject and then putting the books in that bibliography in discussion with each other.

It's important to note these levels of reading are cumulative. Each level of reading encompasses the lower. To analytically read, you must elementary and inspectionally read. To synoptically read you must elementary, inspectionally, and analytically read.

This is why synoptical reading is the most difficult level of reading.

But it also makes it the most fruitful.

Inspectional Reading

The second reading level is inspectional reading, which is reading to quickly scope out a text and inform if you should do deeper reading.

There are two types of inspectional reading:

  1. Pre-reading
  2. Superficial Reading

Pre-reading

The first type of inspectional reading is pre-reading.

You do this type of reading to determine if you should read something deeper. Most often, this comes by answering the question, what is the book about as a whole? The additional benefit of inspectional reading is primes you to dive deeper into the book's arguments. Think of it like warming up at the gym. It prepares your muscles for the onslaught you are about to put on them--if you're doing leg day at least.

Answering this question involves four steps:

  1. Classifying the book according to kind and subject matter.
  2. Stating what the whole book is about in a few sentences.
  3. Outlining the major parts of the book in their order and relation.
  4. Defining the problem or problems the author is trying to solve.

Let's go through each of the four steps.

Firstly, classifying the book according to it's kind and subject matter.

It's incredible how many people start reading without classifying a book. The problem is different types of information promote entirely different types of reading! The way you read your math or science book differs completely different from how you read a novel.

That's why it's essential you classify a book before you even read the first page.

At the highest level, there are two types of books:

  1. Expository
  2. Imaginative

Expository information primarily conveys knowledge through theories, opinions, hypotheses, or speculations. This includes works that range from math/science to philosophy and history. Imaginative works convey emotions and experiences through narrative. This includes works like novels, poems, plays, or fiction.

Expository information splits into two more categories: Theoretical Practical

Theoretical information teaches you something is the case. Practical information, however, teaches you to do something with information. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, a book that describes the history of the universe and modern astrophysics, is purely theoretical as it doesn't point you to do anything with its information. Well, except opening you to thinking about the sheer meaningless of your existence on this planet and the ever-fleeting nature of all life.

Wow, that got dark fast...

Wahoo! Everything is better with Mario.

However, how-to information like How to Read (so meta) or opinionated information are all practical as they all point you to do something.

The first and easiest way to start making these distinctions is by analyzing the information's title.

It seems obvious, I know, but many people forget to start with this critical step. Tell me, what is the title of Charles Darwin's famous book on evolution?

It's not unlikely you said The Origin of The Species.

The actual title, however, is The Origin of Species. The difference is astronomical. The first tile would imply an exploration of the evolution of just the human species, whereas the second would allude to an exploration of species as a whole.

By analyzing the title, you can usually tell if it's expository or imaginative.

Then practical or theoretical.

Then, you must differentiate if a book is historical, scientific, or philosophical. Historical information typically has the word history in the title or alludes to something in the past. If you can't tell from the title, historical works usually convey a feeling of narrative throughout the information, much like in many imaginative literature pieces. Differentiating between science and philosophy can be done with a simple rule: If theoretical or practical information deals with things outside your typical daily experience, you're dealing with scientific information. If not, philosophical.

Once you have classified the book, the other steps of inspectional reading are about answering the ladder three questions:

  1. Stating what the whole book is about in a few sentences.
  2. Outlining the major parts of the book in their order and relation.
  3. Defining the problem or problems the author is trying to solve.

These questions are X-raying the book--that's right, you get to be a doctor while you inspectionally read!

Every book has a skeleton between its covers. Our job as inspectional readers is to uncover that skeleton (All right, I'll stop with the doctor joke). In this way, the job of the writer and reader are complementary opposites. A great writer starts with an outline and adds prose around it to make the writing more engaging. A great reader begins with the full text and attempts to break it down into its outline--skeleton--I'm sorry I lied.

This is how you differentiate bad books from great ones.

Great books should make pre-reading as seamless as possible

If the author knows what they are doing, x-raying should be easy. They should signpost their argument in every chapter, have clear, logical progression throughout, and summarize their argument at the end.

Bad books, unfortunately, won't give you this same luxury.

There are seven steps to X-raying a book:

  1. Examine The Preface: Read it to get a sense of the book's subject and the author's perspective.
  2. Study the Table of Contents: Use it to understand the structure of the book, akin to how one would use a road map before a journey.
  3. Check the Index: If the book has one, glance through it to gauge the range of topics covered and the references made. Look up key or crucial terms to understand essential points or the author's main arguments.
  4. Read the Publisher's Blurb: If the book is new and has a dust jacket (how cute), reading this can give you a general sense of the book's content and significance. Note that some blurbs are purely promotional, while others provide insightful summaries.
  5. Read the Conclusion: "Huh, no, you wouldn't possibly read the conclusion first?!" If it were an imaginative work, no. But for an expository work, reading the conclusion can give you a valuable synopsis of the author's arguments and if they solved the problems they started with. In addition, it gives you an idea of whether the material is interesting enough to read more deeply.
  6. Inspect Pivotal Chapters: Based on your understanding from the previous steps, identify and look at chapters that seem central to the book's argument. Pay attention to summary statements at the beginning or end of these chapters.
  7. Thumb Through the Book: Skim the pages, reading short sections sporadically. Focus on getting a sense of the book's main ideas. It's crucial to read the last few pages or the conclusion, as authors often summarize their main points or contributions.

During and after X-raying, the culmination of Pre-reading involves four steps:

  1. Classifying the book according to kind and subject matter.
  2. Stating what the whole book is about in a few sentences.
  3. Outlining the major parts of the book in their order and relation.
  4. Defining the problem or problems the author is trying to solve.

These steps provide a framework for quickly understanding a book's content and determining whether it's worth a deeper read.

Here's the cool thing: you can use this process outside books.

The art of inspectional reading is relevant to all types of information with some modifications. Use it to discover if you should dive deeper into a three-hour podcast. Or a long YouTube video. Even a short blog post online.

You will not only save countless hours but also prime yourself to consume the information if you do.

Superficial Reading

The second type of inspectional reading is superficial reading, which is reading through a book quickly without stopping to ponder things you don't understand.

It's different from pre-reading in that it's mainly done on difficult books. And books you intend to read deeper already.

Why superficially read?

Because you can't understand a difficult book without understanding its entire argument in context. Great books should be organized and argued so you can understand them partially on the first tackle. But even the greatest of books can't be understood totally on first reading if they have difficult subject matter--for example, if they are high on the Inverted Reading Pyramid. That's why, in tackling a difficult book for the first time, you should read it through without ever stopping to look up or ponder the things you do not understand right away.

Then, you can give it a deeper read on your second go-through.

I made the tragic error of not doing this the first time I read Thinking Fast And Slow by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman.

It's well known as one of the best books in Behavioral Economics. It's also 500+ pages long and packed full of difficult-to-conceptualize psychological ideas. On first read-through I didn't Inspectionaly read. Instead, I painstakingly made my way through every chapter, attempting to understand every sentence. It took me a month of nightly reading to finish.

Don't make my same mistake.

On Reading Speeds

You have now learned the two types of inspectional reading, pre-reading and superficial reading.

You might wonder, "where is the part where you tell me how to read 500 pages in negative seconds?" The faster you read, inevitably, the less you will comprehend. Don't fall for those speed reading courses that say you can read 1,000 pages in 3 seconds and with full comprehension. I did that once with War and Peace. Wanna know what I think of the book?

I think it's about Russia... 🤣

So don't read at one speed all the time.

How fast should you read? My point is very simple:

Many books are hardly worth skimming; some you should read quickly, and a few you should read quiet slow for full comprehension.

The exact reading speed is up to you to determine. What balance of comprehension versus speed are you willing to have? Even while analytically or synoptically reading, there will be times when you should read faster or slower.

It's up to you to determine the right rate.

Summary Of Inspectional Reading

You now understand the two types of inspectional reading: pre-reading and superficial reading.

Pre-reading involves four steps:

  1. Classifying the book according to kind and subject matter.
  2. Stating what the whole book is about in a few sentences.
  3. Outlining the major parts of the book in their order and relation.
  4. Defining the problem or problems the author is trying to solve."

And superficial reading is done by quickly reading difficult books so you can prime yourself for a deeper read on the second go.

Finally, you understand there is no one right reading speed. You should change it up depending on what you are reading and your goals.

So don your Sherlock Holme's Cape and magnifying glass because you're now a professional inspectional reader!

Analytical Reading

Analytical reading is reading to deeply analyze a single book.

It's where we start to get to the real good stuff. The cream of the crop. The strawberry shortcake after dinner.

Adler explains that there are four essential stages to analytical reading:

  1. Stage 1: What is it about as a whole?
  2. Stage 2: What is being said in detail and how?
  3. Stage 3: Is it true, in whole or in part?
  4. Stage 4: What of it?

Two interesting tidbits.

Firstly, notice how the first question, "What is it about as a whole?" incorporates the previous reading level, inspectional reading. The essence of inspectional reading is in uncovering what the book is about as a whole. This is what I meant by the higher levels of reading include the lower ones.

Secondly, notice how we don't ask about the book's significance until we know whether the book is true in whole or part. And we don't do that before we understand what is being said in detail and how. The foundation of all of this is what the book is about as a whole.

We do this because we want to maintain intellectual humility.

When analyzing a book, the author doesn't have the privilege of getting to talk back to us as we read.

We are solely responsible for interpreting its contents. So, it's our duty to give the author the best interpretation we can. However, these stages are an ideal.

The simple truth is you're not going to have the patience or energy to go through these stages perfectly every time you read.

So, I follow these stages as a guide rather than as rules.

Often, I answer the questions subconsciously as I read, or consciously in my annotations. So don't batter yourself if you don't follow these stages perfectly. Instead, be proud you're trying to read actively. Most people never learn how to get past elementary reading 🤣.

Let's hop in our Mario Kart and get going shall we!

The Stages Of Analytical Reading

Stage 1: What Is It About As A Whole?

Stage 1 of analytical reading is just inspectional reading.

Stage 2: What Is Being Said In Detail And How?

After figuring out what the book is about, the second stage of analytical reading involves ascertaining what is being said in detail and how.

This involves four steps:

  1. Come to terms with the author by interpreting their key words.
  2. Grasp the author's primary propositions by focusing on the most pivotal sentences.
  3. Understand the author's arguments by identifying or constructing them from consecutive sentences.
  4. Determine which problems the author has addressed or failed to address.

Firstly, we must come to terms with the author by interpreting their keywords.

A term is simply an unambiguous word.

The reason we have to do this is because many words in English change meaning based on their context as well as the way the author uses them. The word "game" is a great example. Despite being only a single word, it has many terms.

Game could mean:

  • A set of artificial goals, rules, and feedback voluntarily participated in with a gameplay loop
  • A video game
  • A board game
  • A type of play
  • And so on and on...

This is why it's so important to come to terms with the author; if you don't, you will misinterpret what they are saying.

It's like arguing with someone over the best anime whose definition of anime is comic books and not art made in Japan.

Wouldn't be fun...

To make matters worse, bad authors sometimes equivocate, change the meaning of the same word in the course of an argument. This is a logical fallacy as it breaks the rule of linguistic consistency. There isn't much you can do about this other than accept the book is likely not a good one.

So, let's assume you're reading a good book.

How do you find keywords and come to terms with the author while reading through information?

Here are a few principles:

  • Mark the words that trouble you.
  • Look for stresses the author puts on certain words and not others. They may use quotation marks, italics, or even bold.
  • Authors might state the importance or specific meaning of a word they will be using in the text--wow, look at them doing your job for you!

Once you have found the words, use the context of the rest of the sentence, paragraph, and book or a dictionary to uncover the author's terms.

How do you know when you have come to terms with an author?

Once you can state what they mean in your own words, you have successfully come to terms with the author. It's not enough to simply state what they say in their own words. This doesn't guarantee you understand what they mean by those words.

Secondly, you must grasp the author's primary propositions by focusing on the most pivotal sentences.

A proposition is a statement or assertion that expresses a judgment or opinion.

Your job as an analytical reader is to locate the sentences with the most important propositions. Not every sentence in a book will contain a proposition. For one thing, sentences can possess questions and state problems, but not judgments or opinions. Other sentences express wishes or intentions.

Thus, many of the sentences in a book will not have propositions.

Furthermore, many sentences can have more than one proposition, depending upon the meaning of the words in the sentence.

As Adler describes in How To Read A Book "it is possible for the same sentence to express different propositions if there is a shift in the terms the words express. "Reading is learning" is a simple sentence; but if at one place we mean by "learning" the acquisition of information, and at another we mean the development of understanding, the proposition is not the same, because the terms are different. Yet the sentence is the same" (Adler et al., p. 117).

So how do you locate the key sentences and the propositions they contain?

Here are a few principles you can use:

  • A good book will make them obvious to you
  • A sentence that includes many of the key words you found when coming to terms with the author is likely a pivotal sentence
  • The sentences you slow down for because of difficulty in interpretation are often the important ones

Thirdly, you must understand the author's arguments by identifying or constructing them from consecutive sentences.

Notice how I didn't say paragraphs.

The reason for this is there are no definitive rules for how to write paragraphs in writing. Some authors have much longer paragraphs. Some shorter. Some paragraphs will have no arguments in them whatsoever. They will include only evidence.

So, you must find the crucial sentences and construct the arguments out of them.

Remember, arguments are simply reasons linked to conclusions--propositions coming together.

Usually, you can find the most important arguments posed in the beginning and summarized at the end of a chapter. Here are a few principles for finding an author's arguments:

  • Connect together the authors critical propositions
  • Look for indications of reasons or conclusions. Usually sentences with these include words such as "because, this shows, if X, etc."
  • Look for critical problems or questions the author asks and then for the answer to them

Fourthly, determine which problems the author has addressed or failed to address.

Once you have grasped the author's terms, propositions, and arguments, you can determine what problems the author addressed or failed to address.

The problems are simply what the author posed they would explore throughout their book, usually revealed in the introduction and at the start of each chapter. It's your job to determine if there are satisfying and well-argued solutions to these problems. If not, did the author recognize it as such?

Once you have done this, congratulations!

You have completed the most difficult work of understanding a book.

Now you're finally ready to take your massive King Dedede hammer and criticize it.

Stage 3: Is It True In Whole Or In Part?

The third stage of analytical reading exploring if the book is true in whole or in part.

We did the previous two stages first because you can't criticize book before you understand it. That means understanding it in its entirety. You will likely let your own biases and beliefs shine through if you don't.

I can't understate this point enough.

Think about how many people falsely criticize a book before understanding it.

Often times they don't understand what the book is about as a whole. They don't align terms with the author. They don't understand the key propositions, arguments, and problems. As a result, they argue against a false interpretation.

Our goal as linked readers is to grow our knowledge as objectively as possible.

Of course, it's impossible not to let some subjectivity come through.

But we can minimize it as much as possible along the way.

Once we have done the previous two stages of analytical reading, there are four things we can say to criticize the author:

  • The author is uninformed.
  • The author is misinformed.
  • The author commits argumentative fallacies
  • The analysis is incomplete.

If we claim the author is uninformed, we believe they don't have all the information necessary to give a true analysis. If they had more information, they might have come to different conclusions.

If we claim the author is misinformed, we believe some of their evidence is false. If they had the true evidence, they might have come to different conclusions.

If we claim the author commits argumentative fallacies, we believe they commit some mix of logical fallacies, fallacies of person, fallacies of assumption, or fallacies of suggestion. Diving into each of these fallacies is beyond the scope of this lesson, but I strongly encourage you to check them out, as they will make you an argumentative genius!

Finally, if we claim the author's analysis is incomplete, we suggest that:

  • They haven't addressed all initial problems.
  • They haven't fully utilized their resources.
  • They overlooked potential implications and ramifications.
  • They missed crucial distinctions relevant to their objectives.

If you can't criticize an author in one of these ways, there is nothing else you can do but agree.

You can't say, I see nothing wrong with your argument but still think you are wrong.

Unless they stole your peanut butter; that is a crime so evil it invalidates all of their arguments.

Stage 4: What Of It?

Finally, the fourth and last stage of analytical reading is asking, what of it?

What was the point of reading the information? What value does it give you or the world?

This will be highly subjective. And hopefully, you asked this question to some extent before reading. Here are a few of the questions I ask after reading a book to answer this question:

  • Can I apply this to a project in my life?
  • Can I use this to improve in my areas of health, work, and relationships?
  • How does this book add to the discussion of other relevant books on this topic or a research question you have?
  • How can this help me follow my values?
  • Is there someone who might resonate with this book more?

Summary Of Analytical Reading

🎊 Congratulations! ðŸŽŠ

If you can learn to read analytically, you are above most readers in reading skill.

You should go brag about it to all of your friends. Probably don't do that lol. Nothing as obnoxious as bragging about your ability to read analytically.

As a summary, the stages of analytical reading and their associated steps are:

  1. Stage 1: What is it about as a whole?
  • Use inspectional reading to uncover this.
  1. Stage 2: What is being said in detail and how?
  • Four steps to answering this question:
    • Come to terms with the author by interpreting their key words.
    • Grasp the author's primary propositions by focusing on the most pivotal sentences.
    • Understand the author's arguments by identifying or constructing them from consecutive sentences.
    • Determine which problems the author has addressed or failed to address.
  1. Stage 3: Is it true, in whole or in part?
  • There are four options for criticizing an author AFTER the first two stages are done:
    • The author is uninformed.
    • The author is misinformed.
    • The author commits argumentative fallacies
    • The analysis is incomplete.
  1. Stage 4: What of it?
  • Five questions I ask to answer this question:
    • Can I apply this to a project in my life?
    • Can I use this to improve in my areas of health, work, and relationships?
    • How does this book add to the discussion of other relevant books on this topic or a research question you have?
    • How can this help me follow my values?
    • Is there someone who might resonate with this book more?

Synoptical Reading

Hello readers!

In the last lesson, you learned how to highlight and annotate from books you read. In this lesson, you'll learn the final stage of reading, synoptical reading.

Synoptical reading is reading done by putting multiple books in conversation with each other to further discussion on a subject.

Not literally having the information talk to each other. That would be weird. It means comparing the arguments of one book with others to adventure into a research question. Most of the time, this is done with a range of books on a similar topic, but you can do it with books on two completely different subject matters.

Synoptical reading is by far the most challenging level of reading.

This is because it incorporates all the previous levels of reading.

To effectively synoptically read, one must be able to elementarily read, inspectionally read, and analytically read. The challenge is that in analytical reading, the reader assumes a role more like that of the disciple and the author the master; however, in synoptical reading, you must assume mastery. This is because multiple authors' terminology will not align. One author's definition of game won't be the same as another.

It's your job to be the master above all the books so you can put them in conversation with each other.

This is also what makes synoptical reading the level of reading that bears the most fruits.

It's like the Supersayan Goku of the reading world. Because you are putting books in conversation, you might come out with insights no one has ever come to before. You're creating new knowledge. You're adventuring into new territory.

You're on the front lines of the reading adventure.

So, how do you do synoptical reading?

Syntopical reading involves two main stages:

  1. Stage 1: Preparatory Actions
  2. Stage 2: Syntopically Reading The Bibliography

Stage 1: Preparatory Actions

Preparatory actions involve:

  1. Crafting A Preliminary Bibliography
  2. Reviewing books on the list using inspectional reading

Firstly, you must craft a preliminary bibliography.

Crafting a preliminary biography will differ depending upon the research question you want to enter into.

I suggest you define your twelve favorite questions. This will inform what research question you are interested in diving into.

For example, one of the research questions I had in the past was how can I gamify my life to make studying/learning fun?

This led me down a rabbit hole of reading books such as Actionable Gamification, Reality Is Broken, A Theory of Fun For Game Design, and more.

You can check out my gamification series, culminating my research here.

Once you have defined a clear research question, assess where you are on the inverted reading pyramid. Are you at the bottom, middle, or top. In other words, are you a beginner in this topic, an intermediate, or an expert? This will inform where you start your research into your research question. I like to do my research following the progression given below:

1. Go Back Through Past Notes:

Check your past book notes to determine relevant books you might be able to re-read for your research question.

2. Ask ChatGPT

One of my favorite prompts for finding great beginner books is "I'm researching into X topic. Give me a list of the most important books I should read on a range of disciplines."

3. Bibliographies in Books and Articles:

Examine the bibliographies or reference lists in books, articles, and dissertations related to your subject. Especially from the books you have already read on the subject.

4. Book Summary Websites:

These websites are great for finding more popular and often beginner books.

5. Online Forums and Communities:

Participate in online forums and communities related to your subject. These can be valuable sources of information and recommendations from experts and enthusiasts.

6. Keyword Research:

Identify keywords and key phrases related to your subject. These will be crucial for searching library catalogs, databases, journals, and more.

Secondly, reviewing books on the list using inspectional reading

This is important: don't start analytically reading each book in your bibliography.

This is a recipe for wasting HOURS of time. Yet it's what most people do. If you are venturing into a new research question, you might not understand what you seek. Inspectionally reading your ENTIRE bibliography FIRST might change your research question, get rid of irrelevant books, or add new relevant books.

In this way, the two stages of synoptical reading are iterative.

Your original bibliography or research question can be changed in the second stage.

Once you have inspectionally read your entire bibliography, gotten rid of irrelevant books, added relevant ones, and maybe changed your research question, you can move onto the second stage of synoptical reading.

Stage 2: Synoptical Reading The Bibliography

The second stage of synoptical reading has 5 steps:

  1. Reading the identified books and looking for relevant passages
  2. Constructing a neutral terminology
  3. Establishing neutral propositions and arguments for all authors
  4. Defining the issues
  5. Analyzing the discussion

Firstly, read the identified books and look for relevant passages

Remember, in synoptical reading, you are the master of the reading rather than the disciple of the author.

So, your job IS NOT to analyze every book in your bibliography. Rather, you are looking for the passages relevant to your inquiry. The reason this step is separated from preparatory reading is it's too difficult to inspectionally read while looking for relevant passages to your inquiry. Your inquiry might change as you go about your preparatory reading, and you might realize books in your bibliography are relevant or irrelevant.

So, keep the two steps separate.

Secondly, construct a neutral terminology

In analytical reading, we had to come to terms with the author.

It's unlikely all your authors will have all used the same words, or even the same terms. Thus, in synoptical reading, it's your job to make the authors come to terms with each other. You must make them use your language rather than theirs.

For example, one spree of books I synoptically read was Stumbling on Happiness by Daniele Gilbert, Happy by Derren brown, The Untethered Soul by Michaele A. Singer, Awareness by Anthony De Mello, and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

To compare these books, I had to uncover what their definition of happiness was because they were all radically different.

Only then could I compare them.

Thirdly, establish neutral propositions and arguments for all authors

Propositions are made of words and terms, and arguments are made up of propositions, so therefore, they might not be innately comparable between authors.

It's our job to establish neutral propositions for all the authors. Propositions all the authors answer. The best way to do this is by creating a set of questions all the authors' propositions answer in some form. The questions will depend upon the research question. But generally, you should create and order your questions in a way in which most of the authors can have some sort of answer.

Fourthly, define the issues

Once you have created and ordered the most important questions, you should align the different author's interpretations into PRO and CON for each question.

These differences in answers are called issues.

Sometimes, a question will have more than one alternative answer. In this case, the issue will be more complicated.

Fifthly, analyze the discussion

So far, we have identified the relevant passages, constructed a neutral terminology, created questions, and defined the issues.

These steps all apply to the first two stages of analytical reading. Namely, what is the book about as a whole, and what is being said in detail and how? The last step of synoptical reading involves skills from the last two stages of analytical reading. Namely, is it true in whole or in part, and what of it?

The fifth step is analyzing the discussion.

This works by ordering the questions from general to particular and critically analyzing each author's answers.

You should use the four critical analysis questions discussed in the third stage of analytical reading which were:

  1. The author is uninformed
  2. The author is misinformed
  3. The author is illogical
  4. The author's analysis is incomplete

The goal of this step isn't to come out with a definitive answer to any one of the questions.

It's to further discussion in the questions. Often a synoptical reading quest will be on a topic with thousands of years of history and no easy answers. Something like "what is love?"

So, coming up with a final answer is very difficult.

It's essential during this step to remain dialectically objective.

Inevitably, you will allow your own opinion to come through, but the goal is to reduce the chance of that as much as possible.

Summary Of Synoptical Reading

🎊 Congratulations! ðŸŽŠ

If you can learn to read synoptically, you have learned THE MOST powerful reading level of all. Very few readers ever get to this level of reading.

As a summary, the stages of synoptical reading and their associated steps are:

  1. Stage 1: Crafting A Preliminary Bibliography.
    • Craft an initial bibliography on your research question.
    • Reviewing books on the list using inspectional reading
  2. Stage 2: Synoptical Reading

The second stage of synoptical reading has 5 steps:

    • Reading the identified books and look for relevant passages
    • Constructing a neutral terminology
    • Establishing neutral propositions for all authors
    • Defining the issues
    • Analyzing the discussion

Welcome To The How To Read A Book Club!

If you have made it through this entire article, congratulations!

You now know how to elementary, inspectionally, analytically, and synoptically read. You have learned skills that most people don't have. You have started to learn how to understand, apply and remember, and intelligently communicate your book insights. Your self-esteem will go up. Your confidence will go up.

Reading books is one of the single most life-changing habits I have instilled in the last 3 years.

What's next?

You should check out my video course, The Art Of Linked Reading.

This course helps people who struggle to findactively consumeremembercommunicate, and apply insights from non-fiction books learn to do so with linked notetaking apps like Obsidian, Tana, Logseq, and more.