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    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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The Land of the Brave and the Home of the Free

Everyone does it, though people still deny it. I’m talking about skimming and you know who you are. Is it a nasty habit, a survival strategy, a lost art? I didn’t start skimming until much later in life. I know I run my mouth a lot, but I’m a goody two shoes and skimming always seemed, well, wrong. I’ve always been convinced that I would miss the most important plot point or insight into the main character’s motivation. Colonel Mustard with the wrench. Skimming FOMO. Plus, retention has never been my strong suit, and I still sound out words when I read which also makes skimming difficult. I guess the question is why do you read? How do you read? What do you read for? My mother believed skimming was a war crime.

When do you skim? Come clean. This is a safe space. LOL

13 Responses

  1. I skim through the boring parts and chapters about characters that I’m not interested in. But, I glance through each paragraph to make sure I don’t miss anything important, I think? This usually happens when it’s late and I need to get some sleep but I won’t be able to sleep unless I know how the story turns out. Sometimes I go back later and read whatever I skimmed so I can get the full story experience.

  2. Actually, I just skimmed last night, and it made no difference to the story whatsoever. Couldn’t even tell.

    A bunch of fluff words would show up – skim. Some more. Skim. Absolutely unnecessary. The author (I greatly admire, and LOVED her second book) was trying too hard. I hate it when that happens. A bunch of words, clustered up, and nowhere to go in my brain.

    Sidebar: This question reminds me of those about saving the spot where you stop reading. Bookmark only? Flap cover? Face down? (cringe) or, God forbid – dog ear? (raises hand – remember, you said “safe space here)

    • But Donna, how can you TELL it made no difference to the story if you skimmed? Perhaps it was you, your mood as you were reading last night.

      And to answer your Sidebar question: All of the above, depending on the book, whether it’s my only copy, and how much I respect it or the author. If you think that’s bad, you should see what I do to some ebooks!

    • Answering the sidebar question: Bookmarks. I have so many bookmarks, I could start a bookmark store. Every time P&W sends me a solicitation for funds, they include a bookmark. I keep the bookmarks and my money. And Glimmer Train. Remember Glimmer Train? I still have Glimmer Train bookmarks. And I have all sorts of other bookmarks. It’s mad. I’ve turned into a hoarder. Are all writers hoarders at heart?

  3. Yes, Queen. We will discuss this urgent matter very soon. Thank you. If any of you other maladjusted writers who tarry here have any suggestions please be my guest. After a decade of bloviating I could use the help!

  4. I’m the worst about magazine articles,still 8 years old preferring the pictures to the words. I’m a slow reader who doesn’t skim books, but it can take me forever to finish reading one. My mind sometimes skims the audiobooks as I listen. Wanders away, comes back. Focus, focus….

  5. I read for pleasure, for life, sometimes for research, to get information, or even to justify my hatred for things I like hating. But mostly for pleasure and life.

    I read slowly, and never skim, ever — but instead, I read the best bits again before moving on to the next bit. I might never be there again, why would I not linger? And when it’s the best of the best, and the writing is music, I speak it out loud, for the pleasure and rhythm and living it gives to my life. I don’t care if that sounds like a wank, you said this is a safe space, and I don’t care anyway, I read for me. Selfish and greedy I am, when it comes to reading.

    Then again, back in the day, before I stopped self medicating (100 bongs every damn day) I did something much worse than skimming. I’d start reading, get to the end of the page, realise only my eyes were participating. My stupid stoned brain hadn’t listened, had not heard a word. So I’d start that page again. And again my eyes would get to the end, and again, and again, my brain would refuse to cooperate. Imagine all the great stuff I missed, during all those half-missing years. Pretty certain your mother would agree that THAT was a war crime.

  6. Skimming? When I saw this was about skimming at first I thought you meant skimming the till. Then I saw you didn’t — did you? I mean, in addition to skimming over words while reading? Because I don’t want to go to skimming the till. I don’t want to go there. I was a bartender for seven years. Skimming the till was endemic in the profession. Has the statute of limitations passed? Every possible statute for every possible infraction, civil and criminal? You said this is a safe space. How safe? Colonel Mustard in the pub with a sleight-of-hand.

    Now, to the point of your topic — skimming while reading. I skim only some news stories, and I didn’t used to do even that. But I am older and time is tight and I know how news reports are structured, so skim those I do at times. And come to think of it, I also skim other nonfiction materials from time to time, as the case may be, if I’m looking for certain information.

    But fiction and poetry? No, I never skim those. If the story or book or poem doesn’t hold me — and so many cannot hold me, I am eel-like in my attentions to the literary arts — then I set it aside and move on.

    Just like I did with bartending, many years ago — I set it aside and moved on. Colonel Mustard left the pub and turned his hands to more honest work.

  7. “Goody two-shoes.” Snort.

    I have to admit, I’ve been a skimmer since way back. It probably didn’t help my grades much in biology class, but I feel like it seldom affects my comprehension or enjoyment of a literary work.

    I tend to skim over long, descriptive narrative sections. But I have recently noticed that I also have more difficulty writing those—and they are often integral for a book. So, perhaps it’s a seriously bad habit that has consequently doomed me as a writer.

    I’ll surely dwell on this tonight as I stare at all the pages and pages of unbroken dialogue in my current ms…

  8. I have found that skimming never pays. And, of course, you can’t edit what you’ve written doing that. What I’ve written is mostly what I read these days.

  9. I’m nothing if not a collection of regrettable habits. I skim, I dog-ear the pages, I never read a story from start to finish in order. Often it’s because I just know the book is going to hurt or disappoint in some way, and want to find out how bad it’ll be before I get there. What I assume is that, with the author having written the book and I having bought it, we are both free to go our separate ways and do as we please.

    I’ll admit, also, to rereading obsessively. Over the past few years I’ve grown to love poetry—which, now that I think of it, makes a lot of sense given my style of reading.

  10. I must confess I skim over Dan Brown’s long exegeses on art history when I come across them. Feels like he is more interested in showing off what he knows than moving the plot along or aiding in character development. Grrrr….

  11. Reading is all about pleasure for me. If you’re going to skim, why not just do something more utile instead, like grocery shopping for a neighbour or going for a run? Or put the book aside for one in which the author keeps you hooked in every line?

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