reading

Reading Books Straight Through

Last week, Nathan Bransford did a post about reading books straight through. It got me thinking: Why don’t I read books all the way through?

I have a habit of skipping around in books. I think I first started doing it in high school when the book was so boring I couldn’t read it. So I would read the last chapter, than a few chapters in the middle and eventually finish the whole thing.

This habit got worse in college. I sometimes read only half the book (first chapter, last chapter, 1 or 2 middle chapters) and still managed write A+ papers. Yeah, not very good of me. But I didn’t have time and I figured out first, last and middle chapters gave me everything I needed for the paper.

At some point, this habit carried over into the books I read for pleasure and I not entirely sure when it happened.

Part of it is that there are some writers I’ve been following since 9th grade. I know how they write, the kinds of phrases they like to use and sometimes it’s okay to skip a scene or two.

It’s harder when I skip whole chapters. Sometimes the book is that boring, but lots of times, I just want to know more about one particular character.

I mean, I did that when I still read the World of Time series. I don’t remember which book it was, but I skipped through the whole book looking for Rand’s scenes. There were lots scenes from other characters’ POV, but I didn’t care about them. I did this with Game of Thrones, too. Not just for Jon Snow (I liked him best) but a couple other characters.

Other times I’ll read the first couple of pages and then read the last page/chapter. I did that just yesterday with The Tempering of Men by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette. After I already had it, mind, because no matter how the book ends, I am still going to read the whole thing. I wanted to know how it ended just that badly.

And sometimes I read books straight through. That’s how I read Darkness Unbound by Keri Arthur. No skipping, no hopping, no searching for anything, just chapter after chapter.

I suppose all this means I am more likely to go chapter hopping if one character is more interesting than any other character; if I am bored or if I just cannot wait to know the ending.

I don’t think it’s especially helpful since I don’t know how I’ll react to any given book. And isn’t just silly? Wish I was more regular in my reading habits.

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11 thoughts on “Reading Books Straight Through

  1. I started skipping around in books in high school as well. If the book we had to review was a boring one I’d just skim it and get general idea then start writing.

    I sped through some of The Shannara series because I wanted to get to the books with the Ilse Witch. I’d heard mum talk about her when I was 10 and she made an impression.
    The skipping with the Shannara books got so bad I often had to flip back the pages, because I was clueless about what the characters were talking about.

    I rarely skip anymore because of the risk of utter confusion.

    1. I read the Shannara books in high school, too, but I don’t think I skimmed.

      Confusion is a sign to go back and read the book in the order it was meant to be read. LOL But I am used to a little confusion – comes of reading most series out of order.

  2. skipping around in fiction? that’s interesting, I can see it in text books and for school work, I did that. But I wouldn’t do it in a novel. There was one time I was tempted… I started to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and I just couldn’t get into it… everyone I know that read it kept telling it got amazing after the first 100 pages or so and to just skim through it or skip it.. I couldn’t even skim through it.. I couldn’t. Instead I gave up on it.

    1. All of the required reading for high school that I skipped around in were fiction! They were all novels. I supposed I got used to it.

      Yeah, I give up if I find I am doing more skipping than reading.

    2. Cristina, I gave up on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as well. I should have known when “everyone” else liked it, I wouldn’t, but I gave it the 100 pages anyway. Nope . . . and I doubt I’ll ever try it again.

  3. I found your post interesting. I myself couldn’t imagine skipping chapters in a book, either I like the book and read it or I can’t get into and don’t. But I rarely have found a book that I choose that I can’t get into and I read chapter by chapter. I read slowly though and I have often wonder how others get through books so much quicker than I can, now maybe I know ^__^

    Thanks for such an interesting post.

  4. Glad you found it interesting Helen! Skipping scenes will let you finish faster, yes! Though I go back and read those parts I skipped afterward. Sometimes. 😉

  5. LOL, I never even think about skipping around in books. EXCEPT! Moby Dick. I had to read it twice in college, and it is absolutely the longest book in the world! Melville went on for HOURS about the sailors running their hands and fingers through the whale guts or something.

  6. I skim more with amateur writing. The professional stuff, especially what I’ve been consuming for the last few days, is so high quality I savor every sentence. When a professional book is bad, I seldom even give it the chance of skimming further. I will just drop it. Not enough time to consume bad prose.

    I have skimmed a few good books out of excitement, though when I catch myself, I force myself to go back and absorb the material. You’ve got to chew your food.

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