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?