How to Read a Book Better


Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren have done us a tremendous favor in supplying us with several excellent rules for reading.

They are as follows:

  1. Classify the book according to the kind and subject matter.
  2. State what the whole book is about with the upmost brevity.
  3. Enumerate its major parts in their order and relation, and outline these parts as you have outlined the whole.
  4. Define the problem or problems the author has tried to solve.
  5. Come to terms with the author by interpreting his key words.
  6. Grasp the author’s leading propositions by dealing with his most important sentences.
  7. Know the author’s arguments, by finding them in, or constructing them out of, sequences of sentences.
  8. Determine which of his problems the author has solved, and which he has not; and of the latter, decide which the author knew he had failed to solve.
  9. Do not begin criticism until you have completed your outline and your interpretation of the book. (Do not say you agree, disagree, or suspend judgment, until you can say “I understand.”)
  10. Do not disagree disputatiously or contentiously.
  11. Demonstrate that you recognize the difference between knowledge and mere personal opinion by presenting good reasons for any critical judgment you make.
  12. Show wherein the author is uniformed.
  13. Show wherein the author is misinformed.
  14. Show wherein the author is illogical.
  15. Show wherein the author’s analysis or account is incomplete.

Bonus: The four questions you should ask of any book.

  1. What is the book about as a whole?
  2. What is being said in detail, and how?
  3. Is the book true, in whole or part?
  4. What of it?

All of these rules and questions are wonderfully illuminated in their classic work How to Read a Book. Check it out.

Jesus Still Wants You

Have you fallen into sin? Do you feel nasty and irrecoverable, unloveable? Then listen to this Gospel reminder from Matt Chandler.

Jesus wants the tattered rose!

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came for the sick. He came for sinners. He came for you.

“…while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” -Romans 5:6

“…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8

“…while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” -Romans 5:10

Top 5 Posts for March

Haven’t stopped by Hobo Theology in a while? No problem. Here’s what’s been simmering this past month.


5. The Formula for Spiritual Growth
The secret about the secret to spiritual growth.

4. Could Jesus Have Sinned?
Addressing an important and delicate question with care.

3. Ignite Takeaways
A Quick look back at our student retreat.

2. Evangelicals and the Lenten Principle
How Lent may find a place within Evangelicalism.

1. Who Are the Nephilim?
With all the buzz about the recent Noah film, this older post has been lighting up with hits. Who are the Nephilim? Who are the Sons of God? This post attempts to answer these questions.

Please consider “liking” Hobo Theology or sharing it with a friend. Thanks!

So Much to Learn

I have so much to learn. It’s overwhelming actually.

You’d think by now I would have reached some level of competency, but the further I go, the further it gets.

I am clueless to many things. I am forgetful of others. And I am shallow on what I do know. (As someone once said, “Lord, help us to understand what we know.”)

Learning feels like trying to hang that too-big-paper with that too-small-magnet on the refrigerator. Can I get an Amen?

I told my daughter I was thinking about taking some classes. She wondered why adults would go to school since we are…you know…adults. Little does she know…

How much we have to learn!

What mystery! What heights and depths! What wonder!

The heavens are declaring glory! The angels long to look into these things! All He did would fill the world with books!

Who has time for much TV?

Discerning a Call

Last night at our student service, 633, we heard from two of our missionaries, one from Ireland and one from Ecuador.

Both had many great things to say, but what stuck out to me was their advice on discerning a call. Whether you’re considering missions, marriage, college, or a new job, the skill of discernment proves vital. And I think their advice could apply to any of these situations.

To discern a call, they advised…

Search Now. Explore your desires and potential calling. Talk to your leaders. Talk to friends. Attend trips. Read about the topic. Pray. In other words, discerning a call will take some research and leg work. You probably won’t receive a special word of revelation while just thinking about your decision. Maybe. But probably not. You will need to get out and knock on doors and see how the Lord moves your heart and provides a way.

Serve Now. I really appreciated this bit of advice. We often forget this necessity. Whatever may be stirring in our hearts can often be at least partially acted on and fulfilled in our current context.  We should attempt to serve in the future capacity now. For example, if you’re hoping to make disciples on the mission field, begin making disciples at home. If you’re hoping to pursue another degree, study and write now. God will use your current efforts to train and equip you for the next step. Plus, it looks better on your application if you’re already practicing what you’re applying to do. ;)