This gives us a glimpse into what it means to read for understanding. It means to not only remember what the author is saying but to understand why he is saying it and what he means. It means really engaging with an author and thinking through the set of knowledge put forward in the book. It means considering how the author’s point relates to other information you may know, the perspectives of other authors, your own experience of the world and, perhaps as a Christian, you can add how it relates to what God says in the Bible.
Reading to increase in understanding occurs when you push yourself. When you pick up a book that contains concepts that are beyond you – that you need to work to understand. But importantly, it is not enough to realise that you don’t understand it and so find some commentary or blog article that explains it to you. To Mortimer, we really start to read, we really start engaging with a book when we don’t understand it and then sit down with the book and study it until we do understand – or at least until we understand more.
At each turn I found myself feeling like my eyes had been opened to why it is that I sometimes feel the way I do about the digital technologies in my life. Tim puts into words those niggling issues we have with technology, explains what they are, where they come from and then gives you the tools to deal with them.
Mortimer begins his book by showing us how we often do not know how to read. I love a story he tells of when he was tasked with teaching a class where the students were to discuss great literature. Mortimer compares himself to a colleague and says:
“My questions about a book were of the sort anyone could ask or answer without having read the book—anyone who had had recourse to the discussion which a hundred secondary sources provide for those who cannot or do not want to read. In contrast, his questions seemed to arise from the pages of the book itself”