The Writing Center @ The University of Wisconsin - Madison

Active Reading Resources

While you can find information about active reading practices and strategies in many different writing texts and handbooks, here are two particularly recommended resources:

  • Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren’s How to Read a Book (Simon and Schuster, 1972).
    This is the third edition of Adler’s classic work on active reading. The strategies and habits of mind promoted here are equally applicable to articles, essays, lab reports, and any other text. Adler and Van Doren devote a whole section to analytical reading, and in part three, they closely consider approaches for reading in a range of disciplines from literature to philosophy to the social sciences.

  • Shirley Quinn and Susan Irvings’ Active Reading: Reading Efficiently in the Arts and Sciences (Houghton Miflin, 1986).
    The first chapters of this textbook provide a general overview of active reading; Unit 5 provides detailed insight into active reading in the fields of mathematics, the natural and social sciences, the humanities, and history. Overall, this text is interested in promoting a kind of reading across disciplines that helps readers to make connections and see relationships between ideas.