When I was at university I sometimes had to read through a lot of material very quickly and under a lot of pressure. This reading was often fuelled by copious amounts of hot drink and led to me pulling all-nighters. Why? Usually in order to meet an essay deadline or before giving a presentation. I got through most of my essays that way, using the skim reading techniques I had learned and refined at secondary school.
It makes me wonder how many people take short cuts when reading fiction books. It is often tempting to skip a page or two or rush to the ending early on so as to prepare yourself for what’s coming. I have friends that do this all the time.
This leads me to the questions that follow which will get you to reflect upon your own reading. I have included my honest responses, as usual.
1) Do you sometimes skip lines or paragraphs?
Although I am competent at reading fast and gleaming the key points from a non-fiction text, I feel like I am cheating myself and the author if I do the same thing whilst reading a story. There have been times when a book has been very boring and I have decided to abandon the narrative completely and ditch the book rather than skim read it. When a book becomes repetitive or takes too long to show any signs of narrative development I switch off and lose interest for good.
2) Are you unable to wait for the ending of a book?
I literally make myself wait until the end to discover what happens every time I read a new book. Sometimes this is painful, especially when I have less reading time than I would like and it may take me ages to finally get to the conclusion. However, I really am someone who feels the need to read every word, in sequence.
Lately, I especially enjoy stories which begin with a paragraph taken from somewhere near the end of the story. These usually then snap back in time to unveil how the characters got to that particular predicament.
3) Have you ever used one of those popular summary apps to find out the gist of a storyline?
These shortening applications literally summarise story books in fifteen minutes. I hear they are increasingly popular and are particularly good if you want a quick summary of a text before you see a play or watch a movie about it.
I haven’t used them yet but wish I had before I saw a Shakespeare performance as I’d have had a better idea of what was going on. There is a place for reading summaries but if you are a passionate reader it will be more rewarding to read a whole book, appreciating the details and building up a picture in your mind.
This was a post that I wrote for fun. It just made me wonder how many of you are tempted to take shortcuts while reading, in order to find out the ending quicker or because the narrative was dragging. Was there a time when you were a lazy reader?
For some ideas about how to make more time for reading click here.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments and maybe consider following my blog for more book orientated content.