All entries for Thursday 09 June 2005

June 09, 2005

Guide to reading

I recently started reading The Odyssey. Apart from the obvious differences to books I normally read (it's not aimed at people half my age), in the beginning of the book there were instructions on how to read the story. Having read books (note the plural. Impressive, huh?) before I decided to skip this and dive straight in. But I appreciate that some people are not as literary blessed, so for those people here's how you read:

As with all my "Guide To thing" the first step is a highly unhumerous and patronising suggestion to find an appropriate object about which the guide is being written. In this case you need to buy a book. It's worth remembering that you can't read a chapter of a book to see if it's any good like you would listen to a track on a CD. So read the blurbs (for the scientists who can't read, this is the bit on the back of the book telling you what it's about) to figure out which to buy.

Once you've done this it's relatively plain sailing, but here are some tips to make the process easier:

  • If the book's really boring then check how many pages there are. This way you can work out how far you've managed to get through (Yay! Only 24% to go!) and makes the whole process more fun.
  • If you're reading a humerous book just assume any big words you don't know the meaning of mean something funny and let out a snort when you read them.
  • Glance over any names you can't quite get into your head. This Odyssey is full of such names, which are too difficult for my poor little brain to understand so I just sort of leave a blank in my mind when I see them – I know who it means, so I don't lose track of the story.
  • If the book contains verse, such as in the Lord of the Rings, just skip them to save time. I happen to know that this is a trick favoured by at least one classicist. So if it's good enough for one of them, then it's good enough for the rest of us. However don't do this if you're reading poetry, you'll get to the end far too quickly.

June 2005

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