Done With Book Reviews… For the Moment


I have made it to the point in my life where I am bartering with myself to encourage finishing books by offering myself more books.

It’s a vicious cycle.

So for now, I have two more book reviews to do, but I want to take my time with them. Because if you get in a hurry, you miss details.

I knew a guy who read Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and pretty much missed the entire point of the book. The book on friendship alone takes multiple reads and several thinks before you get to a point where you can use it for functional analysis. This guy pretty much dismissed it before he got through even his second read of any part of the book.

I’m guilty of doing the same with several books, and the two reviews coming up deserve some time and thought before I belt out a review. These guys deserve more attention.

Of course they say… well Jason Byassee said and I believed him… “You never really read a book until you’ve written about it…” Or something like that. Either way, writing about what you read really brings it together and helps to see the author’s point of view in great detail.

That is if you do it carefully and correctly.

But this is not the only way to read. I once thought every book had to be read cover to cover. Now, I can poor over sections of good books multiple times and some books I’ve even lost count of the rereads, but in all that reading and rereading I discovered something quite valuable taught to me by a friend.

You can skim a book.

You can skim books and get quite a bit out of it. Sometimes more out of it than if you had to read it through on a deadline.

Skimming can also get you a good shape of what the person is saying so that you can go through it page by page with a better idea of the scope, scale, and intent of the book. That can make it easier to highlight and annotate books as you see fit.

Alas, the biggest lesson of skimming is when to do it and when not to do it. Junk books that are required need a decent skim and little more. Sometimes good books rehash arguments in incredible detail that is very useful if you are writing a paper or trying to think through potential controversies over a particular subject, but if you aren’t in that process and the book is labelled well, you can get the main gist of the argument and go back for details when needed.

The buddy that set me up for skimming recommended first and last paragraphs of chapters, I say first and last full pages followed by section headings.

As a general rule this does not work on novels.

And unfortunately, I really am enjoying the books I have going now, so no skimming for me.


About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
This entry was posted in Fiction in Review, Non-Fiction in Review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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