Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Vow to Stop Skipping the Details

I have a confession: When I am reading a book, I have a tendency to skip details and jump right to the dialogue. It was not until recently that I realized I do this, but in the last few months, I have caught my eyes on several occasions hopping over descriptive paragraphs in order to reach the inter-character conversation more quickly.

I don't know what this reveals about my inner-psyche. I'm sure I could conduct some sort of psychoanalysis to find out what this tendency of mine signifies. I haven't figured that out yet, but what I have begun to realize, is that I'm missing out! The last few books I have read have made me realize that by skipping the details (consciously or subconsciously), I am not only neglecting to experience the book as the author intended, but I am really doing myself a disservice as I fail to fully connect to and imagine the characters and scenic details. There is so much more to me than the words others hear me say, and there is so much more to the characters in the books I read than I can learn from their thoughts and words.  Details and descriptions are there for a reason. What's more, I am missing out on the beauty of words that is so often present in the descriptions authors so carefully craft.

Take for example, this excerpt from a book I have been reading this week called Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai (thanks Jennifer for the recommendation!):

Fadi felt like a hairy single-celled paramecium, immobilized under a microscope, squashed between two plates of glass. He wished he could fly right out the window, but he couldn't. Trapped, he sat in a slippery vinyl chair under Principal Hornstein's probing gaze (p. 195).

I had been reading furiously, trying to find out what was going to happen to the main character and his family, when I came to this description. I stopped. I reread it. And I smiled.

I just love the way Senzai has perfectly captured how Fadi felt in that moment as he sat in the principal's office. Honestly, at first, I thought to myself, "a 'hairy single-celled paramecium'? Who describes someone like that?" but as I re-read the words, I fell in love with them. This description is just wonderful!

These are the types of depictions I fail to see and treasure when I skim through books, focusing too heavily on the dialogue. In every other facet of my life, I am about as detail-oriented as one can get, so I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to apply that aspect of my personality to my reading. But that's all in the past. Today, I am vowing to stop skipping... and start savoring...the details. 


  1. I really do like to get to the meat or the plot quickly...and I really agree that some of the incredible descriptions I'm losing out on. I will have to consider making a vow also. It also depends on the read, and light books I don't think need that treatment. Another example would be any of Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches. We really need to savor...in my opinion. It is interesting that you write with incredible detail....your vocabulary is also top shelf. xo

    1. I totally agree with you--I think it probably depends on the book. :) Thanks so much for your kind words of encouragement, too. That was an unexpected (but appreciated) blessing to me today!

  2. I think I'm the opposite kind of reader as you -- I actually skip over dialogue sometimes in favor of delicious descriptions! You've reminded me to keep that book in mind as a good source of descriptive mentor texts. I'm so glad you're enjoying it! :-)