Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Monthly Plan

Spurred by Micah's suggestion, I've read Adler's 'How to Read a Book'. When I first picked it up I felt foolish because, of course, reading books is a skill that I've pretty well been on top of for more than thirty years. But of course, this is about a more in depth reading style. If you haven't read it and you really want to 'own' the books you read, I would highly recommend this.
I've had some ideas in my head as to the structure of each month. Adler has somewhat rearranged this for the better, I think. I'll put this out here for now but please know that I'm very open to feedback and change on this. I want something fairly standard but what I'm writing down now doesn't necessarily have to be the finished product. Think of this as a suggestion:


  • 1st (day of the month) - the title of the selection. Perhaps some suggestions on secondary materials. For instance, I think that Shakespeare is better watched first and then read. (Adler would recommend against reading any kind of analysis first, so keep that in mind.)

  • 3rd - A timeline of the life of the author. This will make it easier to bracket exactly when things were written in relationship to each other. Not sure if this will grow through the year or if I'll just have one big timeline and repost it each month.

  • 6th - a bio sketch, almost certainly heavily cribbed from Wikipedia. I'll highlight anything that I read there that seems to shed light on the background of the piece. And I'd encourage anyone else to do so as well.

  • Midmonth - Start of the general discussion. This will move around a bit depending on the number of works for that month. May start as early as the 10th but not later than the 15th. (This will probably have some fairly organic growth, depending on how much participation there is. Will it start with just general observations? Or should I follow Adler's 'Four Questions'? And if so, does each one deserve a different post? Not sure yet.)

  • 18th - Modern focus. In which we try to figure out how much impact the piece still has on modern life.

  • 20th - A reminder of the selections of the next month.

  • 21st - Cultural reflection. Did it remind us of any modern movies, books, music? (For some reason, I want to know if various authors would have fit into the cultures of various sports teams too. But that may be meaningless. Anyway, this is where that info would go.)

  • 24th - Meta discussion or perhaps 'syntopical discussion'. How does this piece fit in with the other works that we've already read?

  • 27th - Related readings. What else fits in with this piece. Especially what else that isn't on the list. This might also be a good spot to talk about who else would benefit from reading this (for example teachers, city planners, cousin John).

And then the new month comes along and we start over. Anyway, that's the plan. Feel free to offer suggestions.

1 comment:

  1. We are a not-for-profit educational organization, founded by Mortimer Adler and we have recently made an exciting discovery--three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos--lively discussing the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost.

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    Thank you,

    Max Weismann

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