Academic writing is a genre, with predictable components common to most fields of study, with only slight variations in style among the disciplines.
Knowing what to expect in academic writing can help you read and understand more efficiently.
The IMRD model of scholarly articles presents the most common components of academic writing: introduction, methods, results, and discussion.
Academic articles and book are not isolated pieces of information, but represent one intersection in a network of knowledge.
The literature review should map out the network of previous scholarship that has informed and challenged the author(s), and should reveal a problem or gap in existing knowledge that the author(s) will attempt to resolve.
The next time you need to read a scholarly book or article, keep these features of academic writing in mind. Look for:
Introduction & Literature Review -- Trace the network of previous scholarship; reveal a problem or gap in existing knowledge
Method -- How is the research question to be answered? What data* will be collected and analyzed?
Results -- How do the authors interpret the data? What do they mean?
Discussion or Conclusion -- How do the results of this study contribute to knowledge in the field? What questions remain for further study?
*Remember that data can take many forms. They might be measurements from a laboratory experiment, observations of human interactions, responses from a survey, a creative work, or historical documents from an archive.