I am of the firm belief that everything you read well is beneficial to you even though you may not realize it right there and then. Intelligent reading is to what I refer as “reading well”.
In this article my core focus is providing insight into how you can carry out intelligent reading and what it actually is. My motivations for this are the result of my dedication to not just reading but reading well over the last few decades.
Intelligent reading is reading intentionally and with clarity. Without it, comprehension beyond a surface level can be difficult and nearly impossible.
With said, we can definitively go a step further and say that; intelligent reading is reading well, that is, understanding the authors intentions, propositions, arguments and using our intellect to establish truth, non-truth and knowledge to develop a deep understanding of the authors writing.
Now that we have a firm understanding of what reading intelligently actually is, let’s get into defining each of the terms used to describe it.
The Authors Intention
The authors’ intentions are the motivations that drive them in writing the book. In most cases the author will explicitly let the reader know why the book has been written and in some cases, it can be difficult to fully understand what it is the author is trying to do with the book. However, the more you dig into the book the more it may become apparent to you.
Therefore, when looking to understand what the author’s intentions are it is important to read introductions read the table of contents as well as research to know what the book is actually about.
There are many readers out that I’ve written summaries on books and you can find these summaries to get a better understanding of what it is you should expect from reading the book.
Also there’s a lot of commentary available online for many different books and these can prove important if you utilize them to understand what various readers think the book is about.
Understanding the true intentions of the writer is important because it puts you in the right frame of thinking and prepares you for the various explanations that the author makes.
For example, if you’re reading a book about gravity you already know that gravity is the pull that keeps us from flying or floating away, and this is one of the assumptions that have to hold true for the rest of the book to make sense.
Most people when carrying out there reading skip introductions or prefaces because they feel the meaty parts of the book are the most important. This is partly true but skipping these pre-requisites for thorough understanding only half prepares you for what is about to come in the proceeding pages.
With that said, I’d say the very first rule of intelligent reading is establishing the authors intentions by finding out what their book is about.
The authors’ propositions are somewhat similar in nature to their intentions in that the author may explicitly propose certain things in the very beginning of the book or in the preface or introduction.
With that in mind, let’s go ahead and define what the authors’ proposition means. In the simplest of definitions the authors’ proposition is a declaration of their position about a topic. The author in their writing usually expresses their stance on certain things which can be very definitive. Most of the time the average reader takes these propositions at face value and thinks of them to be true or FACTUAL.
This is not always the case because sometimes our positions on certain topics all issues could be very logical but not true.
It’s therefore important to read thoroughly in order to understand what it is the author proposes in every topic, every paragraph and every part of the book.
Your last job is to understand the authors overall foundational propositions on which the entire book rests.
Understanding the propositions is important for the next thing we are about to discuss.
The author’s arguments are the statements that they make with logical reasoning. These statements are usually after cross examination of various facts and aspects fundamental to the topic or entire message of the book.
Arguments are easy to spot because often times they’re open ended and logical but are not enough to pass as truth.
For example, a stock market author could, in their book, make judgements about the direction of a particular stock due to various technical and fundamental analysis techniques. While these judgements could make logical sense, they cannot pass as truth because of the unpredictable nature of stock market movement.
The stock market author could therefore provide various explanations and assertions about the direction of the market to back their prediction. These explanations and assertions would in this sense act as the arguments.
Spotting arguments is a vital step for the reader because it can give them perspective about the topic.
Reading intelligently means getting the truth out of any book, article or blog. The truth is the true indestructible knowledge that we attain from reading the authors work.
Using the previous stock market example; we can read the authors argument about the general direction of the market and we can deduce the truth that stock direction is not predictable and we can only use various analytical tools to make educated guesses about the direction that a particular stock may take.
This changes our perspective and gives us the most important key to understanding, truth.
Non- truth is essentially the opposite of truth. Books are meant to lessen our ignorance about topics and issues. If we successfully read them well, we are able to tell fact from fiction which is the most important thing in the attainment of knowledge.
It’s the role of authors that write to educate; to purposely shine the light in every dark corner of ignorance in order to liberate the reader.
As a reader your role is to thoroughly read between the lines and surgically accept truth while meticulously refuting non-truth.
The one reason why we read books especially non-fiction is to attain some knowledge. This knowledge is only acquired by using the author’s knowledge and using our own intellect to spot the intended lessons that carry truth and value. Knowledge is anything that advances our understanding or lessens our ignorance.
Understanding is what is referred to as comprehension in most cases. To understand something is to make sense of it and that is what intelligent reading is all about. It’s not just about fishing for the gems it’s about seeing the whole picture and understanding the premise of the entire setting.
To understand something is to see it with clarity and explain why certain things are what they are and that is exactly what we should be able to get from intelligent reading.