Syntopical Reading

Reading many books on the same subject and comparing ideas and arguments. The goal is not to understand any book, but rather to understand the subject and gain fluency.

Five Steps 1:

  1. Find the relevant passages - find the right books and the right right passages to answer your questions.
  2. Bringing the author to terms - translate author terminology to something universal across the passages under study.
  3. Getting the questions clear - Focus on the questions you want answered, rather than the questions an individual author is answering
  4. Defining the issues - multiple answers to a question indicate an issue
  5. Analyzing the discussion - sort the various authors answers to the issue and decide on your own opinion


Parrish, S. How to Read a Book: The Ultimate Guide by Mortimer Adler. at (2014).

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