Celebrations 20 March 2015 – Skipping (Reading Essentials)

Welcome to the March 20 edition of the Celebrating the Small Things blog hop, started by VikLit and now run by Lexa Cain, our fearless new leader and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge
Katie @ TheCyborgMom

Today I am celebrating a wonderful reading (and writing) tip:


Skipping Through Books…

I have a terrible confession to make.   It has required a lot of courage on my part to take this step, especially on a public forum (more or less, since mine is not the most widely read blog by a long shot).   I don’t know too many people who would willingly admit to it, at least not in this modern world where people take pride in reading every single word of a book.  Certainly, only one other person I know will admit to this particular practice.

The thing is, the practice has enabled me to circumvent unpleasant things and get to the meat of a book and then, armed with confirmation of the book’s quality, go back and have another go at the unpleasant parts.  Since I have seen the whole of the book, I can now inspect its separate parts.

What am I talking about?


One of my favorite authors (C. S. Lewis) has this to say:

It is a very silly idea that in reading a book you must never “skip.” All sensible people skip freely when they come to a chapter which they find is going to be no use to them. In this chapter I am going to talk about something which may be helpful to some readers, but which may seem to others merely an unnecessary complication. If you are one of the second sort of readers, then I advise you not to bother about this chapter at all but to turn on to the next.

Lewis was speaking of philosophical and theological subjects, but I have found that the advice is equally valid to those who are trying to plow through a passage of purple prose that threatens to derail them (Dickens has a lot of this), or who are having heavy going with a particular scene that has no apparent bearing on the rest of the book, (Melville’s digression on the history of whaling in Moby Dick, for example) or the discussion of gardening practices in Lady Chatterly’s Lover, per the reviewer in Field and Stream.

Just look at what not skipping does to your face!

I have gone skipping through most of Dickens, happily thumbing past his description of the nasty things that the law did to the fellow who they decided had killed the happily late Marquis de Saint-Evremond, and his various disquistions in all his books on society, injustice and the method a gentleman should employ while chasing a runaway hat on a windy day.

With this useful, and previously forgotten, technique, I am able to sit down, pick up The Pickwick Papers , and read what I enjoy, going back when I have more fortitude to suffer through enjoy  the parts I skipped.

That’s worth celebrating, don’tcha think??

So what are you  celebrating?  (And have a wonderful weekend!)


19 comments on “Celebrations 20 March 2015 – Skipping (Reading Essentials)

  1. Cherdo says:

    I think skipping is a great god-given right. And believe me, I skip…I'm helping a class slog through War and Peace. Just how many pages DO you need to describe a battle? We get it, Tolstoy, we get it!!

  2. Diana Wilder says:

    Ah, Tolstoy… He's one of the shining lights in the 'Why Should You Skip' pantheon of reasons. Now if we could just get some translator to either streamline the names (Like, Count and Countess Rostov's kids are all either Counts or Countesses Rostovs, themselver. Argh!) or else set up a list of characters with their various names, including patronymics.

  3. What a wonderful post. Yes, I'm guilty, too. I'm just a natural born skipper!

  4. I find myself skipping through books I sometimes review, because someone is waiting on the other end, or it's not a book I normally read for enjoyment. But I like digesting the classics one word at a time, even Melville or Dickens…although it's been awhile. I find it exercises the brain, but I have to be in the mood. I keep saying I'm going to reread Jane Eyre. My daughter is currently hooked on Jane Austen. I do read modern books word for word, when hooked. I see Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit sitting on the shelf. Now that's one I couldn't put down…and it was nonfiction too!

  5. Beth says:

    I'm not usually a skipper (I'm afraid I'll miss an important clue or something) but especially in the classics you mentioned, I do sometimes skim long descriptions or witty conversations that go from witty to tiresome. My husband, an engineer who always read with a highlighter in his hand until he switched to ebooks, reads every single word. It takes him months to slog through a classic. He's on a Jules Verne kick right now.

  6. Hi Diana .. yes I must practise this … and if the book is good – we can keep it and read it again later on … and I must jot my brief review down as I go .. either for me or for a blogger author … Good post – and good tip! Cheers Hilary

  7. I always loved skipping as a child – more so now! I'm currently reading a John Eldredge book on the masculine journey. Much as skipping might bean option, I don'r wanna miss a thing. (smile)

  8. Lexa Cain says:

    I love the pic of what NOT skipping can do to your face! So true. I call it skimming and I do it pretty often, but that's because I have the attention span of a gnat on crack-cocaine. In the past years, I've become a champion skimmer. I just don't have time to read every word of a book anymore. And some authors are really in love with their own prose, if you know what I mean… So whether it's skipping or skimming, I do it so my face won't prune up and get stuck that way forever.

  9. Lara Lacombe says:

    I think skipping can be a great way of staying interested in a book!

  10. Diana Wilder says:

    It makes it more tolerable and, when you go back, you're prepared. Thanks for coming by!

  11. Diana Wilder says:

    I tend to whiz through a classic, skipping what doesn't interest me at the moment, and then go back and go through it slowly. Seabiscuit was a wonderful book and a great movie!

  12. Diana Wilder says:

    I have to reread one of Verne's less well-known books, but one I found a hoot: Dr Ox's Experiment. It involves the (imagined) problems found when you pump oxygen into the atmosphere of a lethargic village. I laughed!

  13. Diana Wilder says:

    Thank you for stopping by, HIlary. There some things I NEVER skip, your posts being one type. Cheers!

  14. Diana Wilder says:

    I might try skipping while reading and skipping… (I could not resist). That books sounds interesting…

  15. Skipping, huh? I've done that with some non-fiction books, but never with a novel. It's sure worth considering, though. The book I'm reading now is very slow going, but after making it through more than 500 pages, I'm determined to finish the rest of it. (It better have a phenomenal ending, though!)

  16. Diana Wilder says:

    Actually, I sometimes think that the words we read quickly tend to stay with us better. At least, I hope so, since time is rather limited at this time.

  17. Yvette Carol says:

    I do skip! All the time but I just didn't know that was what it was called until I read your blog, Diana! Thank you for that interesting, new-to-me tidbit! Yes, I think it helps sometimes, especially when you really need to know what's going to happen next! 🙂

  18. I admit to skipping large chunks of both Les Miserables and War and Peace. In fact, most books from that era. In between the chapters of story are long pieces of historical information, and I'm just not that interested in the political machinations of the time… So I skipped.

  19. Cherdo says:

    Uh, Diana…”The Safeguard” is on an Easter egg on my blog today…

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