Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Speed Reading – Part IX

Analytical Reading: Classification Stage (Part 2 of 4)

We are currently at the Analytical Reading stage of Speed Reading. For a bird's eye view of Analytical Reading, please click
here. Part I of Classfication Stage is available here.

Learning from the Book Title

One of the most astonishing facts is that most readers pay very little attention to the title of the book they are reading. For illuminating books, the title itself can give us a very good indication of what the book is all about. Not convinced?

An Illuminating Example
One of the most famous books about the Roman Empire was written by Gibbon titled ‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’. Most readers glanced at the title briefly without giving it adequate thought. They were then asked why the first chapter started with the Golden Age of the Roman Empire: ‘The Extent and Military Force of the Empire in the Age of Antonines’

Unsurprisingly, they became puzzled as to why the origins and Rome’s rise to power was not discussed. Why did the book start with the Age of Antonines? The answer is staring at you right in the face. The title of the book is the ‘The Decline and Fall …’, yet if you had only read the title cursorily, you might have misread it as ‘The Rise and Fall …’

If you had read the title carefully, you would have guessed correctly that the Roman Empire was at the height of its’ power during the Age of Antonines and would decline soon thereafter.

Study the Preface and Subtitles
In well written books, the author attempts to assist the reader in classifying his book, by making his title or subtitle descriptive. A skillful reader should then vary his approach in reading the book based on how it is classified.

In the book ‘The Evolution of Physics’, the authors Einstein and Infeld tell the readers that it is a scientific book and that ‘a scientific book, even though popular, must not be read in the same way as a novel’.

Read the Analytical Table of Contents
The Analytical TOC is created by the author to provide a road map to the readers as to their train of thought and the ‘flow’ of the book. If you fail to take advantage of this, you may become perplexed and lost when reading the book. If you ignore the Analytical TOC, you might not obtain a coherent view of the author’s ideas. You should avoid this if you wish to obtain the full benefits of reading a well written book.

We have completed the Part 2 of 4 of the Classification Stage in Analytical Reading. Next, we will look at what we can learn from the differences between Practical and Theoretical Books. Any questions or comments?



Hello Avatar,
I thoroughly enjoyed this lesson in speed reading. I'll be checking out the previous lessons for sure as time allows. I've never been an analytical reader before, but now, I'll try to employ what I've learned from your post.



Dear TashaBud,

Thanks for the kind comment. I appreciate it :)

Just try to practice it bit by bit and you'll soon get the hang of it.


Samuel S

This speed reading program may help with analytical reading as well.

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