How to Avoid Buying A Bad Book in Ten Easy Steps

The great author Mortimer Adler—author of How to Read a Booksaid that before someone can read, he must pre-read. A person must know how to skim a book before he reads the whole thing.

Imagine you are standing in a library. The bookshelves run for miles. You take a volume off the shelf. Should you sit down and read the whole book or just a portion? Does the book deserve five minutes or five hours? Should you read the book from cover to cover, or just the first page? Sometimes an authority assignsyou a book to read and you have the read the entire thing. But often, you get to decide how much of the book you want to read. If you want to know how much of the book you should devote yourself to, learn how to skim(or pre-read)a book. 

Skimming a book is important because we have limited time. It’s nonsense when a person says they always read a book from cover to cover. That person is a poor reader. Never read more than what the book is worth. This may mean giving it five minutes; it may also mean reading it through twice.

Imagine a young man in a beautiful bookstore. Let’s call him Stephen. The room is full of glossy books. Stephen wants to devour each one. His time and money are limited. Stephen can’t buy each book. He can only buy the best. How can he decide which book to purchase? How can Stephen protect himself from wasting his time and money?

One option is that Stephen sits down reads each volume from cover to cover. Then after that, he can decide which book to purchase. The problem is that the shop owner will kick him out before he finishes. Stephen only has 30 minutes. He must take a shortcut. You must pre-read. You must skim, the first type of inspectional reading.  

How can Stephen makes a good purchase? This is something young people especially need to learn. Here are ten steps:

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