How to Read

Rob Asghar’s recent Forbes article, “How to Read A Book In An Hour,” echoes discussions we’ve been having in the First-year Writing Program recently about approaches to teaching differentiated reading. By differentiated reading, I mean that all occasions for reading are not equal. Sometimes a first-pass reading should be quick and should arrive at a decision about whether or not a slower and more deliberative reading would be useful. Experienced readers and writers make such judgments nimbly.

I’ll show you here how to read a non-fiction book in about an hour. I should put read in air quotes, I suppose, because the point isn’t to swallow and digest every word and punctuation mark; it’s to be fluent in the book’s basic points and to be able to argue about those points.

At its best, Asghar’s argument emphasizes making full use of a book’s cover, table of contents, and index for apprehending the general project encompassed in the book. But he also introduces debatable (and perhaps perilous) suggestions premised on speed and efficiency as enduring goods.

How do you emphasize differentiated reading your classes? Where do lessons about this fit in first-year writing? In our program’s ENGL/WRTG120 and ENGL/WRTG121 curriculum more generally?