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Don't Read Word-by-Word

Updated on May 3, 2019

Reading for pleasure does not mean you read word-for-word, or you shouldn't have to because today's narrative is easy, generally speaking. Writing narrative is more straightforward to follow, understand and comprehend. A lot of today's writing is interesting and even captivating that also makes the reading process easier.

Today's reading depends on style, lucidity and brevity, it is easy and unlike what was written in say the 18th and 19th centuries where there were varying degrees of long-windedness and convoluted that made the pace slower. Leaving aside the cultural context and the fact "reading" was generally considered for the upper classes, it nevertheless forced the reader to reflect and ponder upon what is being said.

As well, there developed an element of personal taste in reading, and in spite of the fact that mass education and mass reading began towards the end of the 19th century. Today, some readers like the ease lay back style of writers, novelists and essayists. The approach of what-you-have-on-paper-is-what-you-get has become very popular.

Others on the other hand have continued to prefer the more couched sentences where words are the object of the exercise, rather than the story narrative. There are elements of loftiness in the words and semantics where the novelists employ a language and use of words that are best considered esthetical and therefore pleasing to the reader. In such prose there is much room for external input by the reader, and thus understanding, explanation and analysis of the text at hand tends to come from him.

For such people reading word-for-word becomes a fascination because it is the word that makes up the story rather than the contextualization and/or the narrative itself. Word-for-word becomes a pleasurable exercise providing greater thought, depth and input.

The other style of course is the context and the narrative itself. Such a style, although literary purists more aware than I could claim otherwise, gained greater currency after World War II, and today. Because they come to be written for a more "modern" communication era, the stress and concentration focuses on the rapid delivery of ideas, thoughts and process. Television, radio, computers and satellites had a lot to do with establishing the parameters for this.

In a fast moving world, the word and the idea need to be understood quickly because it's being followed by a chain of other concepts; if this is slowed down then the rest of the chain would grind to a halt if the momentum and flow is not kept up because of the communication speed that everyone is being subjected to.

With speed, the ability to skim words or phrases has become stronger or more rapid. Since, it's an easy style anyway, the tendency to concentrate becomes less and less as skimming or "peppering over" still allows the reader to understand the sentence, paragraph, chapter and even context.

Thus I would guess more and more people skim over the text these days, especially when reading for pleasure because it is the nature of the reading process that has come to exist today.


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    • Alexander Brenner profile image

      Alexander Brenner 

      9 years ago from Laguna Hills, California

      I find myself skimming a lot with books that contain a ton of dialouge. Passing the descriptions between dialouge deprives the reader of a better mental image.

    • marwan asmar profile imageAUTHOR

      Marwan Asmar 

      9 years ago from Amman, Jordan


    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      9 years ago

      I do a little of both.I skim something first and it puts me in the mood. Then I can go back and reread and keep focussed on every word.I just love reading too much.I enjoyed your hub.

    • marwan asmar profile imageAUTHOR

      Marwan Asmar 

      9 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      Thanks Sally, you are so kind. Actually I feel somewhat guilty when I try to skim, but really it depends on the text

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 

      9 years ago

      Great hub. As a school teacher, I try to teach my kiddos about skim and scan techniques. If they are looking for a particular fact about George Washington, for example, they need to look carefully at the subheads and other bold categories to find the answers.

    • marwan asmar profile imageAUTHOR

      Marwan Asmar 

      9 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      Cheers you guys for input. Yes very true. It just depends on the text. Some are hard so you have to read and read, others are nice and neat, it doesn't mean though they are less complex in plot

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      9 years ago from Nepal

      When I'm reading someone like Gabriel Garcia Marquez I read every word. But while reading William Dalrymple I very often skim. My reading habit changes according to the text I'm reading. While reading newspaper articles I usually read every alternate paragraphs.

    • Career-Guide profile image


      9 years ago from Mars

      I personally believe before reading anything i put skimming instinct of mine.... Skimming is an art that help us in reading big articles and picking the appropriate knowledge beside getting confused in the lake of dictionary.


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