Posted by: Viola | September 29, 2014

Skimming Versus Reading

Skimming Versus Reading: A Short Essay On Being Read

by Viola Allo

Skimming is not reading. Skimming is what I do when I don’t care to read closely. It’s a light and lazy form of looking at a page and the words on it. It’s a kind of pseudo-reading. A shortcut and not the real thing.

Reading requires really looking at the page. At the words. Taking the time to do so. Taking the time and making the effort to comprehend what has been written down on the page–and seeking what is only written between the lines or deep within and beneath them.

Reading is what I do when I care. When I care about what I am reading. When I care about learning something new. When I care about following the writer on her journey of exploration. Reading is a labor of love. Skimming is not.

Skimming is a surface kind of activity. Skimming is when you dance on top of the page with your eyes but you never settle there with your mind or your heart. Skimming is what college students do when you give them homework and they hate you. Skimming is what graduate students do when they are overwhelmed with too much reading. Skimming is what experts do when they think they already know everything and couldn’t be bothered with more boring stuff to read.

Reading, on the other hand, really is a labor of love. It’s a quiet time of intimacy. It’s what I do when I want something, need something. It’s what I do when I like or love something–or feel a strong curiosity for it, at least. It’s me wrapping my eyes around a book as if my eyes were long arms. It’s me hugging that book to my brain. It’s me drinking the book up and swallowing it whole.

Skimming is a sniff. Trying to get a whiff of something and then moving on. Reading is a big gulp and the return for another gulp and another and another.

I would rather that people read my writing. I would rather that they take the time, use their eyes and hearts and minds. I would rather that they read–or not read–my writing. I would rather that they try to read. I would rather that my writing never be skimmed. I do not write things so that they can be skimmed. I write them so they can be read.

I would rather that a reader abandon my writing, leave it behind instead of simply sniffing at it. I would rather that a reader not touch or take my piece of writing only to skim it. Rather than have my writing be skimmed by a reader, I sometimes think that I would prefer to sit in a small room, all by myself, and never write another word for anyone but my first reader, whose name is mine.

I will never be a skimmer of my own words.


By Viola Allo. All rights reserved. Please contact the author for permission to share or use this poetic essay.


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