The goal of analytical reading is to elevate oneself to the author’s level of understanding, to Think critically.

Analytical reading and efficient writing rules are reciprocal. The rules of Efficient writing are linked in bullet points under the corresponding analytical reading rules.

The following rules of analytical reading can be followed by answering the Questions to ask while reading a book:

  1. Categorise the book: Categories of books
  2. Focus on big ideas of the book: state the unity of the whole book in a sentence or, at most, a few. Don't be satisfied with a "feeling" but not being able to summarise the book because Thoughts seem to be clearer and more substantial than they actually are before they are written down.
  3. State the structure, the parts of the book that constitute the whole (so they are connected; not merely a collection that doesn't make up a united whole). Your structure shouldn't necessarily correspond to the author's division.

You cannot know the whole of the book without knowing the parts, so without outlining the structure you cannot know if your summary (rule 2) is true. - Purify the structure of your writing. 4. Articulate the questions that author had, their objectives (in practical books: why they preach what they preach?) the problems they are solving in the book on both the high level (to answer by the summary) and the lower level (to answer by the structure). Questions should be logically ordered to explain the logic of the structure. - State the questions you aim to answer in your writing. - Describe the objectives of your writing. 5. Find important words and through them come to terms with the author. - In your writing, use words consistently in a single meaning (and always use the same word for each concept). Emphasise terminology, define terms explicitly. If you use synonyms for some term, state that explicitly. - In your writing, aim for unambiguous explicitness. Everything that is relevant and statable should be said as explicitly and clearly as possible. 6. Looks for places in the book you don't understand and Grasp the author's propositions by pondering key sentences. - Highlight key sentences in your writing 7. Find paragraphs in the book that state its important arguments. If arguments are not thus expressed, construct them. Skimming a book (summaries and conclusions first) helps to construct the arguments during analytical reading because arguments are already familiar to you. This is particularly important for reference books: don't try to use them before getting the editor's advice on how to do it. - Summarise your writing in the beginning as well as the end: create good paragraphs expressing your arguments in a nutshell. Put them both in front of the longer discussion (abstracts) and after the discussion (summaries). 8. Find out the author's solutions. Ask follow-up questions about the problems discussed in the book: - Which questions has the author actually answered (and what are the answers = solutions) and which did they fail to answer? - Did they raise any new problems?

Reciprocal writing practices:

- [Publish negative results](<>): openly acknowledge the problems that you failed to solve.
- [Write to pose questions](<>): describe important problems that you don't know how to solve.
  1. Seek first to understand, then to be understood: you should be able to say with reasonable confidence "I understand" before you can agree, Thoughtful disagreement, or suspend judgement.

Rules 10-15: Criticise the book rationally.


See also: