Thursday, June 24, 2010

How Do You Read?

I just picked up a new book - The Africa House, by Christina Lamb - and realised I have a very specific routine when I start a book:

  • Read blurb on the back cover
  • Read blurb about the author
  • Read acknowledgements
  • Look through illustrations
  • Read introduction
  • (Often) Read postscript
  • Start main body of the book
I'm thinking of non-fiction here, which is what I read most of these days - though my approach to fiction is not so very different, even down to a tendency to read the beginning, the end, and then the middle. I like to have a sense of where the book is going, where the author is coming from, and - where possible - a visual guide to the people and places. I just started and abandoned Underground London: Travels Beneath the City Streets by Stephen Smith, at least in part because it had no illustrations.

Does anyone else have their own particular way of tackling a book?

5 comments:

Sarah Reinhard said...

Depends on my mood, largely.

But you know, the way you approach it sounds remarkably like what Susan Bauer recommends in THE WELL EDUCATED MIND. I'm just through Ch. 3, and that's how she says to approach the Great Books. So. You're on to something, I'd say. :)

Like sunshine in the home said...

I think I read non-fiction (I always want to call it 'faction') in a very similar way. For novels I like to find out the gist of the book before I read it, but sometimes I just steam in.

Shawna said...

I typically linger over the cover, absorbing all that I can from the art, photography, title, and text treatment. I read the first page or two to make sure I can be passionate about the book, and then I dive in head first letting the waves of the story crash over me, pull me under, fill my lungs, and change me forever...hopefully.

PixieMum said...

I tend to read the blurb, title page, the first few lines of the introduction then I have a long look at the index. If there is no index in a non fiction book I would not buy it, or bother with it.

I look to see if the author has acknowledged the indexer and have a look at the index itself to see what I think.

If this seems picky I am very aware of the caveats that the publishers put on indexers, on the limitations of number of pages, house style etc.

However, went into an independent bookshop yesterday to buy a card and came away with Bill Bryson's latest book.

Will devour it once I have read book for reading group.

With regard to Christian names, our 27 years old daughter is Martha and when she was at school she was the only Martha at either of her schools, college and course at university. Now it is more popular amongst the children some 20 years younger than her. Still pleased with the choice, she would be the person giving Jesus short shrift as she is like her biblical counterpart.

Really enjoy your blogs.

Regards, PixieMum/ Madeleine

The Bookworm said...

I would never have thought of looking at the index - I can see how you can get a lot from it, though. And I like the name Martha :).