Continuum Reading Concepts which Help the Busy Leader Read Selectively to Acquire Information


Dr. J. Robert Clinton

Self-Published, 1987, 52 pp.  

(held by Mashburn Memorial Library, AZUSA Pacific University, Azusa, CA 91702)


Clinton, professor of leadership at Fuller School of World Mission, was introduced to in-depth reading through Mortimer J. Adler’s book, How to Read a Book.  Alternatively, he felt the need to develop approaches to obtain information from books by less intense study.  This book looks like it could be a course outline.


Reading for pleasure requires word-by-word reading.  “To obtain useful information does not require that one get lost in word by word reading or constructing lists of information to be repeated.  Instead, reading for information requires the ability to overview, extrapolate, draw implications, move rapidly through material looking for selected ideas, etc.  In short, the purpose of reading should control the reading methodology.”  “You have read a book using continuum reading concepts when you have assessed the level it should be read at and you read only as much as necessary at that level to obtain useful information from the book.”  (45)


The reading continuum:  (5)

1.      Scan – overview of contents

2.      Ransack – new ideas, specific ideas

3.      Browse – some in-depth contextual analysis

4.      Pre-Read – determine thematic intent, structural intent

5.      In-Depth Read – analysis of thematic content, evaluation analysis

6.      Study – repeated work in the book, comparative analysis


Each level assumes the book has been read at the previous level.


Scan reading involves a review of the contents, introductory information, dust cover, information on the author, and thumbing through the book to note any conclusions, summaries, charts, quotes, illustrations, etc., to get a cursory understanding of what the book is about and how it is organized. (7)


After scan reading one might make notes on the author, the author’s perspective, the book’s organization, the author’s intent, and an assessment of the value of further reading.  (10)


“Closed scanning refers to reading while looking only for a pre-selected topic of interest.  Open scanning refers to reading while looking for new ideas.” (13)


After ransack reading one might make notes on new ideas of helpful information, a contrasting or differing idea on the pre-selected topic, something of interest on some other topic, and evaluation of the value of further reading. (18)


“Browse reading is dipping into certain portions of a book to study in detail some discussion of a topic in its contextual treatment.” “Frequently I will browse the preface and introduction of a book then browse the conclusion of it and do whatever other browsing or ransacking needed to fit the conclusions into the overall context of the book.”  (20) 


Pre-reading should produce

·        A statement describing the kind of book

·        A statement giving the author’s intent and methodology.

·        A statement identifying the major subject and how it weaves together the major ideas

·        Statements indicating the intent of each major section and its contribution

·        An evaluation of miscellaneous helps available (29)


In-depth reading should produce six evaluation statements:

1.      Show where the author is uninformed (giving examples)

2.      Show where the author is misinformed (giving examples)

3.      Show where the author is illogical (giving examples)

4.      Show where the author’s analysis is incomplete (giving examples)

5.      Show the author’s strengths

6.      Show the relevance of the book to today’s needs (33)

You should be able to persuade a potential reader as the value or lack of value in reading it.  (36)


“Studying a book is a special in-depth approach to the reading of a book which involves pre-reading, reading, and background research on materials and ideas used in the book.” This kind of reading is usually limited to

·        “Essential works which will significantly affect your ministry (basal books in your field).

·        Works which are complex in concepts and/or structure and which usually require more than several read-throughs.” (40) 


A basal book is one that covers a category thoroughly from a theoretical perspective and serves as a standard for comparing other books.  (41)


“Effective leaders maintain a learning posture throughout their lives.” (45)


“Frequently, God significantly affects a leader through some interaction with written ideas.” (45)