It seems presumptuous for us to be telling anyone else how to read a book (particularly when both of us have been known to start books in the middle or even read them backward). But since this is our book we’d like to tell you how we think it should be tackled. After you’ve gotten the feel of it by flipping through and glancing at the cartoons, start with Chapter I. Actually do the exercises as you go along. Resist the temptation to skip over them and get to the “good parts.” If you have a compatible friend with whom to work on the exercises, so much the better. We hope you’ll talk and argue and discuss your answers at length.
We also hope you’ll write your answers down so that this book becomes a personal record for you. Write neatly or illegibly, change your mind and cross out or erase, but do write.
Read the book slowly. It took us more than ten years to learn the ideas in it. We don’t suggest that you take that long to read it; but if the methods suggested here make sense to you, you might want to make some changes, and it’s easier to change a little at a time than all at once. After you’ve read a chapter, lay the book aside and give yourself a week to do the assignment before going on. (You may be thinking, “With everything else I have to do, the last thing I need is an assignment!” Nevertheless, experience tells us that the discipline of having to put skills into action and record the results helps put the skills where they belong—inside you.)
Finally, you may wonder why some portions of this book, which is written by two people, are told from the point of view of one person. It was our way of solving the bothersome problem of constantly having to identify who was speaking about whose experience. It seemed to us that “I” would be easier for our readers than a constant repetition of “I, Adele Faber . . .” or “I, Elaine Mazlish. . . .” As for our conviction of the value of the ideas in this book, we speak in unison. We have both seen these methods of communication at work with our own families and with thousands of others. It is a great pleasure for us to share them with you now.
All we are given is possibilities—
to make ourselves one thing or another.
JOSÉ ORTEGA Y GASSET