Jul 23, 2012

Posted by in Question | 17 Comments

Question – Have You Ever Skimmed…Only To Have To Go Back?

I am a book skimmer.  There I said it.  Not all the time mind you but I tend to skim some passages in a book when I am nearing or in the middle of an especially exciting or important scene.

Yes, I am aware that many authors are staring at me with darts coming out of their eyes right about now but let me explain.  I understand that when authors write, they write with purpose.  Every word written is meant to enrich the story.  I’m sorry but, if there is only about 50 pages left to a story and the hero just pulled up on his bad-ass motorcycle to the warehouse where the heroine is being held captive in an attempt to free her and win her undying everlasting love, I am not going to read about how the door on the building is painted a particular shade of purple and that the air smells of rotten fish you should only be able to find on some remote island off the shore of Japan.  I am aware that it all paints a picture but seriously, I just want to get to the action and read how asses will be kicked and kisses will be exchanged.

But the odd time, while reading the action sequence I was so anxious to get to, someone refers to something and I think ‘Say what?!”  That is usually followed by my saying “damn” because that is when I realize that I should not have skimmed a scene because hidden amongst the description was a key piece of info.  So I go back, with my tail between my legs, stalling the progression of the book because I was too impatient ridden with excited energy hasty, and actually read the paragraph I skimmed.

It doesn’t happen often but it does happen…usually when I read UF titles because day-um those UF authors know how to build up an entire book to one final amazing scene.

So there is my confession.  Now how about you guys?  Have you ever skimmed…only to have to go back and read it again?

  1. I do this! I seem to do this more often now than I used to. I don’t know if this means I’m more impatient now or not :/

  2. LOL, yep I do the same!

  3. Lol, yes, sometimes >I read too fast and miss things..or skim things. Mostly sex scenes though

  4. All the time and I read the ending first!

  5. Generally the only time I start skimming is if I find that the author has been careless about details. I need to know if two lovers are facing each other, or back to back, or in the same room, and how that changes as a scene unfolds. When I discover that the author is moving them around or adding characters without explaining how they got there, I get impatient…and then I start to skim. It’s like being a blind person in a room where someone has moved the furniture around or left stray objects on the floor. So I figure, if the writer can’t be bothered to keep up the description for me to recreate the picture in my mind, it isn’t really worth my effort to read every word.

  6. Adorable pic to go with this by the way.
    Yeah I have skimmed, if it is a book I really cant get into I will skim ahead to see if it is worth the effort of keeping going. A few times it has been and then I have to go back to catch what I missed!

  7. Ally – LOL Probably! 😉

    Laurie – So nice to see others admit it. lol

    blodeuedd – I skim the sex scenes too sometimes if they are too much ‘the same’…

    Diane – With my PNR and contemporary reads, I read the ending first too. Shh…don’t tell anyone. 😉

    mzcue – Very good point! And I love your analogy. 🙂

    Lexi – Oh yes! The ‘will this get any better?’ skim. lol

  8. Omg! I do this all the time! I get so annoyed with myself because I always seem to skim over some key detail and have to go back. Then when I do I’m like “how the hell did I miss this!?”. So yeah, I totally feel your pain. I usually manage to do it at least once every book I read. Guess I need to calm down lol.

  9. I’m the same way! I can read very fast and the more involved in a story, the faster I read! Sometimes I have to force myself to slow down or even go back a chapter and reread cuz I know that I’m skimming. I find myself doing this more if a scene is hot and heavy and the action nonstop or I’m caught up in the high emotions of a scene. Mainly to get to a spot where things are “better” or the heroes are safe. I’m a rereader too, which is how I justify hoarding so many books. Cuz I know that I can always go back and reread a book and even though I know what’s going to happen, I can read at a more leisurely pace and catch the details that I missed.

  10. I also find that I skim less with some writers than others. With crisp sentences, strong verbs and lots of well written dialog, good stories avoid unnecessary verbiage that bogs you down as a reader. The pace is naturally faster, so there’s no sense of “get on with it already!” that drives you to skim.

  11. LOL..I am the same way!!! But then I sometimes read the epilogue or last page of a book first before I start to read it, especially book in a series!!! LOL But I try not to skim too much b/c then I eventually have to go back b/c something will happen and it will be like “when did that happen”!! Then it just takes me longer to go back and find the part I missed!! LOL 🙂

  12. Lol, I only skim the sex scenes, looking for dialogue with some meaning between the descriptions. And of course, I skim a lot when re-reading to go faster to the parts I loved.

  13. “Well Julie, I totally skim,” Michelle said.
    I usually skim in conversations. It drives me nuts when the protagonists are having a conversation and in between the conversation tags, we get a big backstory and then once the paragraphs of backstory is done, I then have to go back and find out what was asked or said in the line that started the conversation in the first place.
    Sometimes if they are having a conversation, I skim all the back story just to get to the next set of conversation “quotes” just so I can read the conversation as it was supposed to happen and then if I feel like it, I go back and read what the author wanted me to know right in the middle of them talking.

  14. Michele says:

    If I stop and think about it, I think the only time I skim is when I’m reading a book that has an interesting plot line that I am invested in finding out how it turns out, but the writing is so terrible I don’t want to finish it. So I will quickly skim the page to find out the endings of the major plot points.

  15. Ok I don’t tell it a lot but I sometimes do it as well. Mainly when there is something big coming up and I really wan to know. Or if I want to see when a character appears in the story. It’s bad… I know, but well I’m too impatient.

  16. Jessica says:

    While I am guilty of skimming, it’s not generally a habit for me, or something I indulge in regularly. I’m more of a paragraph re-reader than a skimmer.

    And my skim triggers are different than a lot of those posted here. I skim when bored – not when I’m excited. 🙂 I’ve been sitting here, trying to think of all my skimming triggers. Basically they all tie back to the author being overly verbose, repetitive, or just plain un-engaging. Generally I have to really dislike a book to even go into skimming mode. If I care, I can’t skim. I’ll skim extremely embarrassing passages (often awkward YA moments), just because I can’t take the sympathetic mortification I’ll feel on the character’s behalf (I cover my eyes at parts like this in movies too). When bored to tears, I’ll start skimming long passages of descriptions or details of a character’s mundane activities (like grocery shopping – ugh – or highly detailed descriptions of attire). I’ll basically try to just read dialog until things seem to be getting interesting. I did a lot of this type of skimming in Love Unscripted. Lastly, in the very very rare instances I feel PNR or romance books get a bit over the top with the sexy times, I’ll start skimming those too (I say rare, because most of the times I love the sexy times, but some books just shove too much in). The 50 Shades series hit basically all of these skim triggers, but especially this last one. By the time I got to the last book in the series, I was reading like one paragraph a chapter. ; )

    I guess when I’m that bored, the smart thing to do would be to stop reading the book altogether, but I have such a hard time doing that. I guess I have a completionist mindset. Once I start something, I have to finish it. Maybe I hope it will get better? Or maybe I’m just too cheap to spend money on a book and not finish it?

    The passages I choose to skim rarely require me to go back and re-read them (because the more aggressively I’m skimming, the more I just don’t care about the book). But I do remember running into instances where there’s a new character introduced in a section I was skimming, where I had to go back and re-read just to establish who exactly they were and what their connection to the story was.

  17. Vanessa – Once a book is not bad actually. lol

    erinf1 – I’ve forced myself to go back and read slowly too. I think when you are really involved in a story, it’s easy to skim without even noticing that you are doing it. lol

    mzcue – Another great point!

    Mariann – You’re right, it does take longer. But we just keep that to ourselves. 😉

    aurian – Oh…super skimming when re-reading. lol

    Michelle – ““Well Julie, I totally skim,” Michelle said.’ LOL

    Michele – Aug. It sucks when the writing doesn’t match the awesome story. I agree with you there…I totally skim there.

    melliane – Oh oh oh…I’ve totally done that too. If a character leaves in the last book and I need to know how far into the new book he’ll appear! LOL

    Jessica – Skimming when you are bored makes lots of sense. And yes! Too crazy sexy times! Agree agree agree. And not going back to read what you missed because you just don’t care…wow, that is not a book for you. 😉

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