How do you read it?

As an author, I’m fascinated by the way people read. Is it possible to write a book to suit all reading styles?

Begin at the beginning, go on to the end, then stop, is not for everyone.

For myself, over the years, I’ve had many different reading needs.

Bookworm: I was an avid reader. Every opportunity, I would read from front to back. I remember having an argument with my dad, at the meal table. He read his newspaper, so I read my book. He did not approve, somewhat hypocritically, I felt. I felt sad to finish a good story; the library was my favourite place.

Short and sharp:  During my teenage years, magazines were my favourite. I first read The New Scientist when I was sixteen, but soon got into all the popular magazines. Life was busy. Time for avid reading was short. Short articles filled my curiosity in an easy, assessable style.

Reading on the run:  As a young mum, my attention span dwindled. I found Readers Digest short stories, filled the gap nicely.

Serious stuff only:  As an IT Consultant, my reading time was consumed by technical documents and manuals. Then, favourite magazines filled any free time. I travelled around the UK to visit clients. Long working days meant that reading was mainly for work.

What happened next? Writing about the years, 1909 to 1939. My publications have taken many years to research. I’ve had to read books, articles, documents, and websites, to find out what happened during those years. I became frustrated if a writer did not clearly define which year they were talking about. A good contents page became my friend. To fit in all the reading required, I developed my strategy for reading.

My reading strategy:

  • Reading the bits relevant to me
  • Used the contents page to find relevant information
  • Followed individual elements through a publication
  • You don’t have to read the whole publication

 

With this in mind, I have designed my book, Betweenwhiles: A family between two wars – -a true story of rebellion against Nazism (Amazon), with a contents page at the back.

Why at the back? So you don’t have to wade through it, the get to the story.  The contents page permits you to:

  1. Use the chapters like short stories, pick and mix how you feel
  2. Read chapters that relate to specific individuals through the years
  3. Choose the years/ topics you’re interested in

And I won’t be offended if you don’t read the prologue and the forward.

How do you read it? Let me know, it will help with my next book.

27 thoughts on “How do you read it?

  1. Very like me read all I could from the time i learned to read.I went on to be a history student and researcher with degree.I never had a family of my own as never stopped working long enough to look up. Sad now as retired no one to love but history and my hens and gardens.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. Welcome, fellow avid reader and historian. I guess, here on the web, we are like an ethereal family. I find writing, very solitary, and often enjoy the socialbility of the web,

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  2. Today the anniversary of the Freedom of Europe on the battlefield of Waterloo 18th June 1815. We beat the Tyrant robber Napoleon to stop war for a time and now we have to stop it forever is our job to perform by loving mankind.We are all Gods children I honestly know,

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  3.     I suppose I have very little patience. When I was about 8 years old, I learned to hate reading because I didn’t do well, and it was the first time we had to read “long” stories. In High School I only skimmed through books just enough to fake an assigned book report. Otherwise, I only read a book when I wanted to know something. The knowledge was what I wanted to obtain, but the process I hated.
        For fiction, I read the opening, then skip to the middle to see if there’s anything exciting. If I’m intrigued by something I’ve found then I read the ending. If I want to know, “how did that happen,” then I flip backwards until I find a clue. Then perhaps I find an interesting person or event and I want to know “who is that” or “what caused that event.” When I find it, then there may be some term I don’t understand. So I look for an explanation that came before.
        In short, I often read a book backwards. Hmm, now that I think about it, that only works with a book that is chronological. If it has flash-backs and flash-forwards it can be very confusing if I jump to the wrong place.
        Once in a while I read from beginning straight through to the end, but that takes me a very long time and is very tedious. Usually I do such an arduous task when I’m trying to learn how to write better. How do they build the drama etc.

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      1. Thanks for the welcome. My dilemma now is that I have to be a super hypocrite for my own writing because I wouldn’t want to write a book that I would want to read — I would rather write a book that most people would want to read. I’m not sure if it’s possible to be a good writer and a poor reader. I’ve heard the advice that to become a good writer, one must be a voracious reader in love with characters and plots and all of one’s favorite things, reading ’til midnight, dancing in the streets with a book whose pages flap like birds and take flight.

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      2. Love it. So true. I have always read avidly. Now In the proofing stage of my book, I’m having to read my work many times. I’m still proud of it so guess it must be ok. I’ll never win a booker prize but, hopefully can tell an unusual tale.

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  4. I look at the cover, if it doesn’t have a sexy painted couple on the front I’ll read it usually IF I like the summary on the back cover or book jacket. I skip the acknowledgements and go right to the prologue if there is one and go on to Chapter One. I read when I eat every meal, using a book chair to prop it open. I get food all over it so I prefer used books from flea markets and book sales, yard sales etc. I am an avid reader. I read when I brush my teeth and in bed before sleeping. If the story moves too slowly I’ll read a few chapters and skip to the end, but not very often, I usually like the ones I bought. I also read the preview for the next book at the end, but hate the book discussions in the end of the trade paperbacks which are my favorite because they stay open the best in my book chair.

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  5. I read in two modes: 1) For content (such as tech manuals, etc.) I read at about 3,800 words a minute for this type. 2) For pleasure (novels, etc.) Although I read extremely fast, I often slow down and even re-read bits that bring me pleasure (imagery, etc.)

    As an author and editor, I am in a constant search for new material.

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  6. We’re two peas in a pod. It has only been lately that I have picked up books again. I tend to read history and biographical materials rather than fiction. As a kid I couldn’t put down a book and chores would be undone. I can hear my mother saying, “There is a time and a place for everything.” And, like you, raising children, gave me enough time to read magazine articles. I enjoyed your article.

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