I read books word for word with a few exceptions. Reference books, including cookbooks, are a find what I need proposition though I will often at read the entire book once to know what information it contains. In short story collections, I often find myself skipping certain stories especially when rereading. More often than not, I’m read a collection a second or twentieth time for one story that’s been on my mind for some reason.
When it comes to books containing a narrative spanning the entire length, be it fiction or non-fiction, I do not skip around or skip over sections. It would break my concentration and take me out of the world the book creates in my brain.
I’m not entirely sure how to do so without missing things. It’s not like watching a DVD where you can see the action at super fast speed and would know when to slow down to regular speed again after whatever you were skipping.
What I feel no guilt about is quitting a book where I’d be tempted to skip parts in simply to “finish” or for curiosity’s sake. Okay, that is a slight lie. I don’t feel bad if it’s a random book with which I’m struggling. If it’s a classic or otherwise important book, I worry I’m the problem, rather than the unreadable book or acknowledging not every book is for every reader. It’s a trap I fall into from time to time because one of the reasons I read, at least that kind of book, is to reassure myself I’m as intellectual as I think I. With the total catalog of Project Gutenburg accessible in portable form, I’m going to have to work on that hang up. Too many books and too little time to read something sucky and the only criteria should be wither I think it sucks.