Thursday, June 7, 2012

How Do You Read?

How do you read a book?

Do you start at the beginning?

Dive into the middle?

Sneak to the back and check out the last page?

Read several chapters and then hop to the ending?

If I'm reading non fiction, I check the table of contents and skip around, depending on what catches my interest, or how I want to process the info.

Fiction is another story (no pun intended!). I am a strong supporter of the start at the beginning idea. After all, the author is taking the reader on a journey, are they not? There are adventures to savor on the way. I admit, though, occasionally I flip ahead or take a peek at the end.


1) The story is dragging and I want to see if it gets better. If not, I may abandon the book.

2) There are lengthy portions of dialogue or description that don't captivate me.

3) I absolutely, positively, cannot wait to see if a character survives (or is found, is arrested, gets married, or paints a giant mural on the side of the local bank, etc.:) Okay, so this doesn't happen often. I don't read about mural painting main characters much either, for that matter.

The other day, I did jump ahead in an historical fiction I'm reading. Just to make sure that the MC was okay, you know. So I thought it amusing when I spotted this question yesterday at Dear Editor. A frustrated writer asks for feedback on the RIGHT Way To Read a Novel,

I'm curious. How do you read a book? Is there one right way? What do you think?

Have a great weekend,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange


  1. Now that I have an ereader, I will usually read the first oage of a book to see what catches my interest to start.
    I'm a start at the beginning girl. Although I do tend to skim if I'm waiting or interested in seeing something happen that I know is coming up. And sometimes--sometimes--if it's a suspense I'll peek at the end, just because I'm interested in seeing how an author pulls the book together. :-)

  2. Well, even though I am the slowest reader in the world , I think at is partly because : I pick up and put down. Pick up another book, and do this with a stack. This is Non-Fiction but also fiction. I never peak ahead at Fiction. OK, yes I do. Because I seem to read slowly, I am always looking at how many more pages. Even if the book is riveting. Perhaps it's my ADHD? ANyway. I hate to peak ahead with fiction. But Non, I dance all over those books, as I hold my place, jumping peeking for whatever may catch my fancy!

  3. I read from beginning to end, although if there are long sections of description I will skim those. Once in a while I will give up on a book, and then I'll flip ahead just to know how it ends.

  4. Jennifer,
    I can see where ereaders would be handy that way. Hubby has a Kindle and I have yet to use it. Can you imagine that? :)

    Modern Day,
    You know, I do that too, particularly with non fiction. I have started and not finished more books than I can count! I like the way you put it "dance all over those books". That about sums it up!

    I do my fair share of skimming sometimes too. I actually gave up on a book not long ago, now that I think about it, I didn't check the ending. Guess it didn't grab me at all!

    Happy weekend,

  5. I read a novel from front to back, but I'm known to peek ahead for the same reasons you do, Karen. :)

  6. A right or wrong way? I don't know. When I write, I do not always write in chronological order, sometimes I write the first chapter last :) So, if someone wants to read that way...
    No, seriously, whether fiction or non-fiction... a story builds up, and I do not like to go ahead of the story. So I read the old fashioned way :) front to back.

  7. I always start at the beginning, but if I'm rereading a book, I tend to skip around a lot!

  8. I'm a front to back kinda gal. Afraid I'll miss something otherwise. Especially with non-fiction.

  9. For me, I always start at the beginning, otherwise I don't have the background I need to make sense of the action and dialogue. If a book doesn't keep me interest, I'll often just stop reading rather than skip to the end.

  10. I always read straight through. If parts are boring me ... I super speed read them.

    The only wrong way to read a book ... is to never read. :)

  11. I start at the beginning and read straight through, whether it's a non-fiction or fiction book. If parts get boring, I may skip a paragraph or two.

    Interesting question! Thanks for asking and for the link to Dear Editor. I'm checking that site out now...

    Blessings to you and yours.

  12. I like to think if someone picks up my book to read they enjoy the journey from beginning to end. When I read a book I read the first chapter or so and then decide if I want to continue - no skipping or peeking for me! :-)

  13. Okay. This is a loaded question. It depends on what kind of book I'm reading. If it's a novel, I try to keep from skipping ahead, but sometimes I do, especially if it's not predictable (the best kind). I also skip ahead on mysteries, if I think I've figured out who did it, and I want to see if I'm right.

    On nf, there are no rules. Like you, I look at the toc and see what piques my interest, then go there first.

    Great questions!

  14. Nah. There's no right way, in my opinion. I'm like you. I start non-fiction by reading the table of contents. Other books, I start at the very beginning, "a very good place to start." Occasionally I'll skip ahead, read little snippits of paragraphs and then retreat back. I think the most important thing is just to read! Susan

  15. I'm a staunch believer in starting at the beginning of a novel, but I've been known to skip ahead to make sure everyone's ok. :)Doing that does rob something from the experience for me, though.

    Fun to see how everyone reads!

  16. Sarah,
    Yes, sometimes I just do not resist. :) Oh well.

    I don't think there is a right or wrong way, but perhaps it's about spoiling the surprise. :)

    Ah yes, now rereading - hadn't thought about that. Good point! I've done the same thing there.

    Well, true, I see your point. It could make more work otherwise. Hadn't really thought much about that.

    I know someone who reads the last chapter first. I can't do that; I need to know who is who and all that stuff. If I do skip to the back in fiction, I almost always go back and read where I left off.

    Super speed read - I like that! That's a good plug or reason for speed reading!

    You are welcome. Hope that the Dear Editor site is helpful. I have gotten a lot out of their other posts. :)

    It is a journey, isn't it? I've always thought I needed to read all of it (fiction, anyway), but once in a while I skip a bit here and there.

    Ha - yes, I've done that with a few mysteries. Sometimes I've been right, other times, not. What's your success record on them? :)

    Happy weekend,

  17. Susan,
    Oh yes, you are right. Just read! That's excellent advice! :)

    It is fun to see how everyone reads! I think we've established that any way is okay, what do you think? :)


  18. I ALWAYS start at the beginning and read it through to the end. Unless I hate the book. Then I jump to the end and mumble about what a terrible book it was and how did it EVER get published to begin with. :-)

    Hugs amigo. I have missed you.

  19. Hi Karen .. I start at the beginning for a novel, sometimes if it's more reference type I'll look around, I'll scan read through sometimes if it's a light inconsequential read ...

    A magazine I'll move around in it .. a newspaper too .. almost always scan reading til something catches my eye for a more indepth read.

    Cheers Hilary

  20. Karen:
    I also read front to back. I have at times peaked to the ending but the ending is usually tells what happens AFTER the climax.
    For non-fiction, I usually follow the table of contents.
    I also had to learn to start reading a series with the first book. Beverly Lewis taught me that. I picked up a book that was a second in a series. She referred to events in this young girls life that had happened in the first book. When I went back and read the first book, the events were major in this family.

  21. I read from begining to end, Karen. No cheating where books are concerned.

  22. Robyn,
    Had to laugh, I think the same thing! Miss you too! :)

    Yes, novels, always, at the beginning for me too. Once in a while a bit of sneaking around happens. :) Good point - forgot about magazines and newspapers. I skip around in those too, quite often.

    Hadn't thought about a series; that's a good point. It is hard to jump in the middle. That's one reason I like stand alone books, even within a series, better.

    So you are a strictly by the rules kind of gal, are you? :)

    Happy weekend,

  23. I have to admit I have peeked at times at the end of a book, hey what can I say I'm nosey,lol. Richard

  24. Sneak to the back and check out the last page.
    Read several chapters and then hop to the ending

    i do that.
    am lazzy man :p

  25. I'm a front to back reader... I'll speed read if I'm not super captivated.

  26. I start at the beginning and but then I can help myself and read the last chapter!!! I can't stand the suspense a lot of the time. Then I go back and finish the book. :)

    My reading pattern have changed though since I have become a christian and I find it difficult to find appropriate books which are also exhilarating!!! Maybe it is a prod for christian writers out there...

    One of my favorites lately has been the Brothers Chronicles, with the first one in the series: The Fall of Lucifer.

    Sorry to write such long comment. Hope you are keeping well Karen. Big hugs and kisses. xxx

  27. Richard,
    Well, then you and I both are, but I think that's okay. We won't get put in jail over it, I'm thinking!

    I don't know that it's lazy always, curious perhaps? Thanks for stopping by and weighing in!

    Speed reading really does come in handy. For me, giving myself permission to stop reading a book if I don't care for it was a big decision. :)

    No such thing as long comments from you, my friend! Good to hear your voice. :) I agree, that is a prod. For fiction, have you tried any of Cathy Gohlke's books - lots of twists and turns in those! Thanks so much, and hugs back to you!


  28. I start at the beginning. I have to. It's the same with movies. If I turn to a TV show or movie and I've missed the first 15 minutes, I look on the guide to see if it comes on later. I couldn't imagine missing the intro of any book. How would you tell if it was any good?

  29. Lately, I can't even finish a book! I have so many interruptions. I don't read fiction like I used, for that very reason. Ideas for my blog come from all the places you mentioned. Life offers all kinds of ideas, doesn't it? :-)

  30. Joylene,
    Yes, for fiction, I always start at the beginning, with an occasional peek to the back. Movies, too, of course! :)

    I have had times like this, where it seems to take forever to get through a book. I am currently actively reading two books and feel a little like this now! :)



Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!