Systematic Skimming

Skimming or pre-reading is the first sublevel of inspection reading. Your main aim is to discover whether the book requires a more careful reading. Secondly, skimming can also tell you lots of other things about the book even if you decided not to read it again with more care.

Giving a book this kind of quick once-over is a threshing process that helps you to separate the chaff from the real kernels of nourishment. You may discover that what you get from skimming all the book is worth to you for the time being. It may never be worth more. But you will know at least what the author’s main contention is, as well as what kind of book he has written, so the time you have spent looking through the book will not have been wasted.


Excerpt from Mortimer Adler & Charles von Doren. How to Read a Book. rev. and updated ed. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1972


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