I saw this article the other day that asked, “Are you ashamed of skipping parts of books?” Which, naturally, made me want to ask all of YOU. Do you skip ahead in a book? Do you feel badly about it when you do?
It depends; and about two percent of the time.
You Don’t Say! for example, by Barry Phelps, is about world notables and their misquotations listed alphabetically. In this case I wanted to know first what misquotations Margaret Thatcher or Napoleon Bonaparte made rather than reading accounts in order. Parts that are of least relevance or interest to me – I skip without questioning myself.
Conrad Kottak’s international edition of Anthropology: the exploration of human diversity once was my bible for a week. I was then preparing a PhD research proposal. Dissect, synthesize, decide which ideas would be best for an argument on a deadline on top of other university job related readings – I was almost blue in the face as the reading turned mad. And I only needed to nail some historical bit that would help rationalize the proposal. That and a few more words that began with the same letter – you could guess where I went and how thick were the pages I skipped. I know what a mpakafo is but I have to run back to this formidable but very interesting reference if asked to describe arboreal theory.
Now, do I feel badly about skipping when I do? In most cases, yes. Most books in my hands are too engaging and too useful not to be read in their entirety. At times it is probably this ‘I-have-to-read-everything-inside-every-book-I-own’ state of mind. Or that could just be my seasonally neurotic self speaking.
This post is linked with Booking Through Thursday.