I recently purchased Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book, based on the many recommendations I've either heard or read on it. Alas, I have yet to actually sitting down and reading it. In the meantime, Greg Koukl, from Stand to Reason, has written a Solid Ground article which briefly outlines some of the principles found in How to Read a Book.
The summary points of How to Read Less More (PDF), would be:
- Post-View Immediately
The point of Overview should be to take no more than 10 - 20 minutes to skim the book, with the intentions of determining the main ideas of the author, the manner with which it is presented and, most importantly, whether or not you want to take the time to actually read the book.
The next step, Preview, is intended to allow you to skim the entire book, at a slower rate this time, in order for you to study the structure, outline, etc. Greg recommends that you write a synopsis of the book on the title page.
Read is more than simply reading the book. Again, you will preview each chapter prior to reading it (mainly by skimming each page). The actual reading is done at as fast a rate as possible, while remaining comfortable. The point is that you don't want to actually stop and ponder sections in the chapter (not yet, anyway). Marking sections is fine, but try to avoid lengthy note-taking. After you've finished, write a 1-4 sentence summary at the beginning of the chapter.
In Post-View Immediately, you will re-read the chapter, focusing on the sections you had marked, this time thinking about the ideas, arguments, etc. Refine your 1-4 sentence summary or, as I've started doing, simply add to it, noting the major points of the chapter.
Many thanks to Greg Koukl for outlining this methodology for reading a book, with the intention of mastering it.