On Reading: Do You Read the Right Way?

Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with saying “There is creative reading as well as creative writing,” and as writers, we know just how important reading is. But, is there such a thing as the right way to read?

I have been thinking about this thanks to an article I read last week, titled Does anybody read books the right way any more?


The article starts with:

And I’m not talking about paper versus digital. I’m talking about curling up with a good book, for hours. Sitting in a hammock, or in a chair by the fire, just totally pulled into a book. Is the long, totally focused book-reading session a thing of the past — and does this mean we’re getting less immersed in our stories?

Yes, for a moment, let’s forget about the ongoing debate about whether real books are better than ebooks. (For the record: Nothing beats the smell and feel of paper books, but ebooks make reading much more convenient for me.)

I think that’s what “reading the right way” is all about: reading habits. So, let’s examine our reading habits and how they affect our writing.

I’ve been asking myself the following questions:

  • What was the last book I read? When was this?
  • When was the last time I read a book without the TV (or something else) in the background?
  • How do I read? Do I read quickly, or do I pace myself so as to make sure I actually get the nuances of what I am reading?
  • How much time do I spend reading (books, essays, and longer material) in a week? How long do I read in one sitting?
  • Why do I read what I read?

These question – and more – have made me realize that I need to tweak my reading habits and go back to how I used to read: curled up in bed (or the sofa) for hours and just enjoying the book without thousands of distraction around me.

I’ve realized that reading books the right way, at least for me, is giving the book all my attention, with the intention of both enjoying what I am reading and learning from the author’s writing style. (I lean toward sci-fi and fantasy.)

I’ve realized that I need to also read more work-related material, and I mean read, not scan – the way Internet users tend to do these days.

I think that there may not be such a thing as reading the right way that it applies to everyone, but in my case, the article did make me think about how I read.

What do you think? Is there a right way to read? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Image via Jayel Aheram






4 responses
  1. Ashfaaq Baurtaully Avatar
    Ashfaaq Baurtaully

    I think there is a right way to read. But that depends on why we are reading. Is it for work? Is it for pleasure? Or is it to learn about some author’s writing style?
    And it surely depends on the reader and the content. I know people who a fiction book overnight for pleasure but takes a week or two to read a book in the category for his work. Some scan and analyse the data in one go for work, while some like to read it over and over again for the same reason.
    I like that you said that your opinion might apply to only you. And that’s very true. If there was a right way to read, very little would read.

  2. Andrew Avatar

    Interesting read.

    I read a lot of books (economics, classic fiction, politics and history) and I always have music in the background. If I’m reading a Dostoevsky novel then I’ll have some classical music in the background. If I’m reading economics or politics then I’ll have some jazz music in the playing.

    Also, I read the Metro/24 newspaper each day.

    I’ve pretty much read and write the same way since I was a kid: music in the background as it helps set the mood (for me anyway).

  3. Noemi Tasarra-Twigg Avatar
    Noemi Tasarra-Twigg

    Thanks for dropping by, guys.

  4. Tammy Avatar

    Interesting post — Thanks!

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