Shortcutting… Skim Reading

5 Jun

There are a lot of books I want to read in life, but let’s face it: no one has time to read everything. Not to mention the fact that some of the things you actually have to read can be a little bit dull. But never fear. There is a great way to read a little and absorb a lot. The skim read.

Most people have skim read at some point in their lives, either because something’s so dull they can’t bear to read all of it, or because something’s so good they can’t bear to read all of it. You may well think yourself a skim reading pro. Think again, my friend, think again. For I am here to offer you a novel approach (see what I did there) which ought to shortcut your shortcutting and make your skim read even more superficial. Here it is:

I have been told that the quickest way to read anything is to first read the first and last chapter, then the first and last paragraphs of the remaining chapters, then the first and last lines of the remaining paragraphs until you’ve got, in my opinion, a lot more than the gist. I find this method a) far too tedious and time-consuming and b) would entirely ruin the plot of a book (in fairness I think this tip was intended for research books and the like), but perhaps it appeals to you as a means of not missing anything important out but reading in a slightly more exciting way.

If not, then you might turn to my favoured approach, which is to read until you find out the main characters’ names and then skimming through only reading the occasional sentence that has one of their names in. I’ve found that a great way to train your eye to identify the key sentences is to practice going through a newspaper article with a highlighter. You soon develop a sixth sense which tells you which sentences matter and which don’t, meaning you don’t have to worry about missing anything important.

Finally I should mention the student’s favourite tool: the internet. You are almost guaranteed to be able to find chapter by chapter summaries of any book you are supposed to read/ want to have read, often with quotes and in-depth analysis too so you sound like you know what you’re talking about.

And if these shortcutting methods still don’t make your book sufficiently un-tedious, read between the lines! It’s not worth reading!

Keep shortcutting,
Zoe

(P.S. The skim read is not to be used on this blog.)

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2 Responses to “Shortcutting… Skim Reading”

  1. ribbie June 6, 2012 at 1:31 am #

    Another method is to read the first and last sentence of the book and sift through the illustrations if there are any. Looking for the main character in books like 100 years of Solitude might pose a challenge as would skimming Crime and Punishment because the main character as I recall had so many nicknames. For Crime and Punishment – I would suggest skimming for the crime and then the punishment.

    • shortcutting June 6, 2012 at 8:26 am #

      Ah yes I can see how that would be a problem – you can tell I don’t read many real books… I should add to my methods ‘finding out the reason for the book’s title’. That probably does usually give you the most important part of the story.

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