I was reading some discussion a couple weeks ago now on Elisabeth’s blog in response to the question: “When you read, do you read every word, or do you skim the pages?”
I was surprised/shocked/literally kind of appalled (dramatic response? maybe? but it’s the truth!) to learn that apparently, there are at least a few people out there who simply SKIM THE PAGES when they read a book.
This is not something that I do, and I honestly can’t stop thinking about this!! It blew my mind. I actually discussed the topic with Ethan the other night, too (who reads a LOT). He says he is Team Read Every Word. (That’s my boy.😉 )
(*Important note- I’m not trying to judge the actions or opinions of others here! 100% to each their own! Not saying my way is “right” or “wrong” for others. I just had never even considered “skimming” to be an option when reading a book. Articles online? Yes. Books? Never.)
I’ve been mulling this over more than I should probably admit. Here are some of my thoughts:
Why I Like to Read Every Word
1- Reading is supposed to be a pleasurable activity. Since I’m not enrolled in school currently, any reading I do is generally simply for me to enjoy. Why rush it??? I want to soak in the words, think about them and then continue. Sometimes I actually will read a passage twice, or out loud to myself. (#1 is by far my biggest reason for never wanting to skim a book.)
2- I don’t want to miss something! I assume the author has spent painstaking amounts of time writing and editing the book. Every word very likely has a specific purpose and reason for being in the book. If I skim, I may miss something small/minor, yet very important or insightful.
3- It’s hard enough to remember things I read! If I skim/rush, I feel like I would be even less likely to retain the information….
4- If I’m reading exciting fiction, I can appreciate the urge to rush ahead to see what happens. But I intentionally resist this urge. I literally will cover the next page or use a bookmark to block the upcoming sentences, so that I can carefully unravel the story, as it was intended to be unraveled. 🙂
5- I think I feel that if I’m willing to skim a book, maybe it’s not really even worth reading. As in, if it’s a really great book, shouldn’t I want to read all the words?
6- I also feel like skimming pages feels “disrespectful” to the author. (That might be crazy, and I know he/she would never know. But I still have this feeling.)
I guess those are my main reasons for being a “read every word-er”. Yes, it probably means I read more slowly and fewer books than I would or could if I were a skimmer. But that’s okay. I don’t feel like it’s a race, so I’m fine with this.
Speaking of reading, here are my current reads. LOVING them both!!! (And reading every word. 😉 )
Which side are you on? Read every word or skimmer? If you’re a skimmer, make your case to me!! I’m willing to listen. 😜
I am grateful for cozy blankets.
18 thoughts on “Reading every word”
Well I’m a skimmer but it isn’t really a conscious choice! It’s primarily because yes, I desperately want to know what happens next in many books. I eye-read only fiction (almost exclusively romance and fantasy right now – need that escape!), and ear-read any non-fiction that I want (which is rare) because of my tendency to skim – non-fiction I usually do want to consume every word and I KNOW if I read with my eyes I won’t. I can’t even force myself to, it just doesn’t work. (interestingly, I am also a Rebel in Gretchen Rubin’s 4 tendencies if you want to read into that a little). I understand completely that reading every single word is “better” and “right” but alas.
I ALSO am a HUGE re-reader – like sometimes if I really loved a book I will instantly start over again, which doesn’t even make sense, but by the 2nd or 3rd read I probably actually did read every word 😛 I also have been known to intentionally read spoilers and/or the end of books just so I can resist the urge to devour a book in one sitting. Basically I’m here to break all the reading rules but I also don’t care 🙂
Fascinating!!!! Oh, this is great. So, so interesting. I had no idea there was such variety in how people do a seemingly straightforward activity- “read a book”. 🙂 I think what you describe totally makes sense, for a Rebel especially. I’m an Upholder, so maybe my reading every word fits that personality type, too.
I read every word but I do read the last page first so I can avoid any surprises and watch the fiction characters closer throughout to see if any hints point towards the ending, couples get together, etc.
Last page first?!!? This equally blows my mind. 😆 I won’t even read book reviews if I think they might contain spoilers. Just like if an ad for a future episode of This is Us comes on, I shriek and close my eyes and plug my ears while fumbling to change the channel, because I don’t want ANY hints about what is going to happen!
I didn’t realize that skimming a book was a thing either – but was more appalled by the thought of reading the ending first, like Elisabeth’s dad does, and now I see Colleen who commented above me reads the last page, too! I have only read ahead once that I can recall – it was a book I read last year that was about the kidnapping of an infant. I did not realize that was the main plot device and thought it would be resolved early on but it wasn’t as as the mom of an infant, I couldn’t bear to wonder if the infant is killed or not, so I read ahead to help my anxiety!
I’m also an upholder like you and would view it as, well, cheating! I think us upholders can be kind of judgy. I’m also an enneagram 1 so view the world very black/white or right/wrong. I do skim things I read online but if I was tempted to skim a book, I would DNF it. But like you, reading is such a hobby that I am meant to enjoy. I do need to force myself to slow down sometimes because I can read so fast that my reading comprehension can be subpar, but my new book journal has helped with that as it has you list a favorite quote so that has really helped to slow my reading down.
I also found American Dirt to be so compelling and difficult to put down. There was a lot of controversy surrounding that book since the author is not of Mexican descent. But I thought the story showed what people will go through to get to America. I am very sympathetic toward migrants and that book made me even more sympathetic.
Yes, I’ve heard there was controversy surrounding that book, but I’ve honestly been intentionally avoiding even looking up what all the fuss was about. I don’t really want to know. I’m loving the book, and that’s all I care about. 🙂 I decided to opt out of internet drama this time. hahaha.
Yes, just avoid the conversation about it! I think there is value to reading the book! I commented on the drama around the book when I mentioned reading it on my blog and got a few comments from people who had different views about the book. I think the author got like death threats maybe? She had to cancel some of her tour because of the threats she was getting! It came out right before the start of the pandemic so of course everything ended up getting cancelled. But I thought the response to it was very EXTREME.
I am in your club : read every word 😃
However sometimes when it gets too tedious, for example when I was reading War and Peace, and even after the story itself ended, there were two epilogues which were in-depth analysis about the causes and the consequences of the war. I am sure those were very important points related to how these events would be recorded in history etc. But I confess that I skimmed a few paragraphs, here and there, in those epilogues.
Generally though I do read every word and also skip detailed book reviews to avoid spoilers.
Excellent point about the epilogues…I do feel like those are different for me, too. In the case of War and Peace you are describing, I think that sounds perfectly valid to skim over. My read every word rule mostly just applies to the actual book itself. 🙂 Agree 100% on avoiding the book review spoilers!
Well…you know I’m a skimmer. I don’t want to make a case for others to skim, because I really think that comes down to preference, but I do want to explain that – for me – skimming makes reading more enjoyable!
There are sometimes books where I read every single word (maybe 30% of non-fiction; 10% of fiction). But most of my reading involves some skimming.
I don’t even know how to explain how I skim, because I almost look at a paragraph like it’s a still photograph and my eyes leapfrog around to different words and phrases. Have you ever done one of those “games” where all the vowels are removed from a series of words, but you can still read the sentences clearly? Your brain knows how to fill in the gaps. I feel like that’s a bit how I skim-read. I don’t necessarily read left to right, top to bottom.
My poor Dad, who Lisa references above (yes, the one who reads the endings first), is also a skimmer and I legitimately think this is just how we are hardwired to read (my mother and husband, for example, read every word). While I think they sometimes retain more information about the books they’re reading, they also read A LOT fewer books. While I want to get quality results from reading, I do hold things in a balance of quality vs. quantity. And just plain old personal preference. I legitimately find it more enjoyable to read this way; it is more of a “treat” when I’m not forced to read tedious dialogue. I feel empowered in a weird way?!
This likely makes no sense…but I’m trying hard to justify how I approach reading!!!
I also take a lot of notes, which I review when I finish a book, so I think I retain a good portion of what I read. Also, as another commentor mentioned, I am VERY in to re-reading books. So, chances are, my favourite (non-fiction books), I will eventually end up reading basically every word.
I had never thought of skimming as being disrespectful to the author, but I can see that as being a valid consideration. But is it disrespectful to read a book and not process it or remember it? Because I can definitely finish books without reading every word but enjoy, remember, and recommend it…?!
One final note – when I read chapter books out loud to the kids I never skim! It only works for internal dialogue when I’m reading to myself!
Love the explanation! (Although- you don’t have to justify how you read! Even though I DID ask for people to, because I was curious. 🙂 I also do know what you mean when you describe skimming. I am actually an excellent skimmer, because I skim documents for my work all day, every day. A big part of my job involves reading LENGTHY medical notes/ documents and picking out important information. It would be impossible to read every word in that case, and unnecessary, so I have gotten very, very good at skimming to find what I need. Maybe that’s part of why I don’t like skimming when I’m reading for fun. And lol about your comment re: not skimming when you read out loud….yes, that would probably not go over so well with the kids!! “read read read….blah blah…skip a few words….read another sentence…skip some more… the end! Okay kids, time for bed!!” hahahah!!
I’m a skimmer. 🙋♂️. Honestly I didn’t know other people read every word. I just assumed everyone skipped bits.
Really????? I’m totally a skimmer in online articles and/or long blog posts. But in those cases I usually don’t feel like I “need” every piece of that information, anyway- especially if I just want the gist of it mostly. If I’ve deliberately chosen to read a book though, I guess I feel I want to read the whole thing.
Erm… I’m a skimmer at times sorry! It’s normally a sign that I’m losing interest and ready for the book to be done! I NEVER skim when I’m loving a book/section, then I want to savor every word. And I also LOVED American Dirt – so terrifying and compelling.
See, I think that’s how I feel….if I’m finding myself wanting to skim, I don’t think I really like it! Or I’m not that into it. Or it’s kind of too boring/long/ wordy/ whatever for me to stay fully engaged. I think if I found myself wanting to skim a whole book, I would just abandon that book.
I definitely abandon if I’m near the start, but if I’m losing interest towards the end I’ll just skim a bit 😉
I’m a skimmer, for sure. Generally speaking, you don’t need to read any word that’s less than four letters long. If I find I have missed something and I can’t follow what’s happening, I’ll go back and be more thorough, but I’m 100% Team Skim. There are some genres where skimming is easier than others, though. A lot of non-fiction requires more careful reading than easy breezy fiction.
I will say that this makes me absolutely miserable at learning foreign languages because I am not a fan of prepositions and the like and I’ll make constant mistakes with them because I honestly don’t really know the rules very well in English because I generally skip them.
YES YES YES YES YES to your reasons not to skim, same for me. Either I read it full or I abandon it. One more point, the reading experience is a state of flow, to let your mind relax, wander, reflect. If one is rushing into it the final page or interesting part, then the effect on our mind would be different. the only situation that makes sense to do it for me is for text book or reference book.