Confession time: skipping pages

Skipping pages: Do you do it? Would you advocate it for certain books? (mobile link)

I guess I’m a thoroughly modern reader because I rarely skip chapters. I’m quite unlikely to skim read, more inclined as I am to give up on a book. The only example I can think of where I skipped through was The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M. Auel. Tediously over-written in the first half, I think I must have skim-read roughly from pages 100 to 250.

With any other book I may have been inclined to give up on it. The only reason I didn’t is because it is the fourth book of a six book series. Had it been the first or second I might have stopped there and not read any more. Thankfully too, the second half of the book was better but none of the sequels have lived up to the first.

I would agree that most readers these days want a fusion of education and entertainment (chic lit aside) so there is probably less inclination to skip/skim writing and fewer books that are over-written.

For me, if my attention drifts then that demonstrates a failure on the part of the writer. As a reader it annoys me immensely so in my own writing I avoid meaningless filler. A reader expressing boredom at my work is worse than outright hating it because at least it held their attention to form such a strong opinion. I know that The Weight of Reason is over 15,000 words which is long for a short story but I’m confident that it is not over-written (I’m still begging for comments!)

Here then, are two lists of three books each:

Books that require skipping / skimming

1. Imajica by Clive Barker. Such an over-written and rambling mess that it isn’t funny
2. The Plains of Passage by Jean M. Auel. See my review for why
3. Lord of the Rings. Three books I know but it is one story. The reason I apply this as a single volume and The Plains of Passage (Earth’s Children series) as separate is because each volume in Auel’s work are stories in themselves with a definite beginning, middle and end. I don’t feel that applies to LOTR. There is too much that is unimportant to the overall story that I am including it here

Long books that shouldn’t be skipped

1. The Passage by Justin Cronin. Every page matters. Every incident is important to the plot
2. The Stand by Stephen King. So much happens, don’t miss any
3. Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds. If I recall correctly, this is the longest in the series. All of the events are important in a continuous storyline

So there we have it. I may revisit this list once I have read War and Peace (on my Kindle, China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station and the Amazon destroying Peter F. Hamilton.

What do you think about skipping pages? Do you do it? Would you rather give up?

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8 thoughts on “Confession time: skipping pages

  1. If I find myself skipping or skimming, I usually give up. I do remember skipping all the songs and poems in LOTR, but that’s because I’m not into songs and poems.

    1. mgm75

      Yeah, I got the tedium. The only reason I didn’t give up on LOTR is that I wanted to see why it was supposed to be so amazing. At the end I was no wiser in that regard.

  2. I skip pages. I don’t read a lot but I am trying to find more books that interest me. With nonfiction, when I find myself reading something profoundly overstated or something that I know more about than the author seems to think I know…Then I skip. With fiction it is a harder gamble as you might miss something crucial. Do you find that you skip more in fiction or nonfiction?

    1. mgm75

      Ditto on the non-fiction. If I read a popular science book on archaeology I skip/skim the introductory chapters (I have a Master’s Degree in the subject).

      On fiction, I am more inclined to skim than skip based on the reason you give.

  3. Jessica Schad Manuel

    I’m not sure why someone would waste time reading if they are just going to skip pages, however, I suppose my solution is just as bad. Instead of skipping pages, I would just leave the book and move on to a different read. It makes for a handful of fallen soldiers on my bookshelf. It’s a double edge sword, huh?

    @JessicaSManuel
    jessicaschadmanuel.com

    1. mgm75

      I guess most people don’t want to admit to having given up on a book, especially if it is a well known book that it is assumed that everyone has read or should read.

      I have also put a book down with the intention of coming back to it later. It rarely worked so these days I am far more likely to give up on it

  4. I usually skip pages when I’m bored or if I feel the content may be over my head. That part is a pill too hard to swallow because of course I’m admitting that I may not be “ready” for this level of reading. For instance any of Toni Morrison’s books. Definitely not boredom, but I had to keep putting them down because she’s more literary-driven with concepts and language that I needed to take my time with. Now more mainstream I think is Stephen King. His books are long and there are chapters that seem to go on forever (the Tommyknockers) so I will put it down. But I try to make a habit of going back to whatever I put down. Mainly because it’s a challenge. My ego can’t take thinking that I’m not intellectually adept enough to stick it out. 🙂
    Now, that being said – I have yet to tackle War and Peace! 🙂

    1. mgm75

      Bleugh. I agree with you on The Tommyknockers, over-written. And to think I gave up on his “Dreamcatcher”. On reflection I think that it was a better novel than “Tommyknockers”… well, the bits that I read anyway.

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