Reading the Text (Witold Rybczynski, City Life)

How does one read a book like City Life? For many of you, this might be the longest (perhaps the only) book you've ever read. For other, it will just be one of many, and you will fly through it in no time. But in either case, you will need to figure out how to read a book like this for humanities content.

What kind of book is this?

How do you figure out what a book is about?

How do you read hard books?

There will be difficult books during your university career. Every field has them. So how do you read a hard book?

1. Look for the places where the writer tells you what the central point of the book is. That may not be at the beginning. Academic books are not like murder mysteries - there's no reason why you have to start at the beginning and work your way to the end. Go to the end; go to the introduction of the book, and of various chapters; go to the end of chapters.

2. Look for the structure of the book. How does the writer propose to demonstrate or defend the main point?

3. Identify the parts that are unclear to you. What do you need in order to understand what's going on?

4. What conversation is this text part of?