Sunday, January 17, 2016

Walter Block on Reading Technique

The following email exchange tool place between Dr. Walter Block and Phil. 

Dr. Prof B -

May I ask you a question - when you read a book do you mark it up,
underline, write comments in the margins etc...? Do most professional
scholars do this? I ask you because you must be experienced in this
exercise, but also for me personally I look at a book in my bookcase
like Elgin Groseclose's "America's Money Machine," that I read maybe
like 4 years ago, or something like "Rise to Globalism" by Stephen
Ambrose, and honestly I don't remember barley a damn thing. Of course
I have a intuitive sense of the history of United States foreign
policy and the general background of the federal reserve(in connection
with other books that have complemented those two along the years) so
on some level my brain retains information but I wonder if there is a
technique to reading perhaps experienced researcher like yourself
might suggest to me?


Dear Phil:

In this, as in many other things, I follow the example of my friend and mentor, Murray Rothbard. Although he was more of an extremist than I. I think he underlined each and every line of a book, and writes comments all over the margins (I'm exaggerating, but only by a little bit), whereas I only underline a bit, and my comments are more moderate than his (that's why I am known far and wide as Walter Moderate Block). When next you visit the Mises Institute, where Murray's books, not the magnificent ones he wrote, but the ones he owned and marked up, can be found, go and peruse them.

Best regards,


Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics
Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business
Loyola University New Orleans

1 comment:

  1. My son has attended a classical private school for the last 5 to 6 years. There, he was encouraged to mark up his reading material a lot. Quite a difference from my experience in government schools where I was discouraged to deface a book in anyway. We were taught that they were sacred and belonged protected in government vaults called libraries.