The Insightful Reader: How To Learn Deeply & Attain Life-Changing Insights From Books, by I.C. Robledo
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookSirens in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
The entire credibility of this book and the author’s advice rests on the author’s opinion that he is an insightful reader and can therefore share this insight with the reader in turn. This is by no means a certain proposition, for although the author claims that one only needs to have read 30-40 books on subjects to be considered an expert by many, it is unclear that the author has read that many books about all of the subjects as a reader that he claims to speak authoritatively about, especially about the subject of religion and its worth. There are many potential readers of this book who will be swayed to read and perhaps even to appreciate books recommended by the author and second-hand by political and entertainment figures, but not everyone will be so easily impressed, and the author’s clear biases about what works and what perspectives are to be valued is something that will rub some readers the wrong way considering the assumptions that are made about what is true and the extent to which the author has developed sound reasoning or scientific or philosophical insight or empathy towards others.
This book is a short one at between 100 and 150 pages long. Like many books, it begins with an introduction that points to the reasons why the book was written and attempts to plug for the author’s other writing as well as (later on) for a Facebook group he set up to encourage creativity. The author discusses the benefits of reading as well as reading habits, approaches, and styles that can be taken. The author talks about how one chooses what to read and recommends that the choice be both broad and deep. Also, the author discusses what to do while reading, including taking thoughtful and detailed notes, as well as what one can do after reading to retain material and to use a book as a way of appreciating still other books in a given subject. The author gives concluding thoughts, some example notes, and then some recommended readings for the reader to enjoy. The author asks whether the reader learned something new as well as invites the reader to read other books that he happens to have written, an invitation not every reader will accept.
Even so, despite the fact that I found much about this book to be of questionable worth as a reader, there were definitely insights that the author has to share that are worth taking into account. For one, the author views books as being important because of the way that they form part of the great conversation that we have about literature and culture and science, and so it is worth reading books that have been important to other people simply so that we can better understand where they are coming from. This is true even where, as is the case of the People’s History Of The United States, there are deep problems with the perspective of the author and with the content and approach of the books recommended by the author. The author’s advice for the reader to challenge oneself and to read broadly and deeply and to take good notes and to question the author are all worthwhile pieces of advice to follow, even if the questions will be searching and critical. And if the author could stand to read more widely and from different perspectives than are included here, it is no insult to repay a writer by quoting his own advice back to him, because sometimes we could all stand to learn by what we attempt to teach others.