There Are Ways to Consume a Book Without Reading it, But Should You?

There Are Ways to Consume a Book Without Reading it, But Should You? Book Culture We all have books that we have pretended to read, but sometimes the pretense isn't enough. Sometimes you might have to fake your way through conversations on a book, but luckily there is a solution.

Writing over at Inverse, Lauren Sarner shares five different ways one can familiarize oneself with a book without actually reading it. She skips over the most obvious (audiobooks) and a couple of the online options (summaries on Wikipedia or Blinkist, reviews on Goodreads, and commentary/debate on Twitter) to come up with a list of five ways to Sparknote your way through a book without reading it:

  1. Know the conversation around the author
  2. Watch the tv show
  3. Know the author's ideas
  4. Eat the book
  5. Join a book club

I'm pretty sure option four is a joke, but the other options in the list are useful tricks for consuming the books that everyone expects you to know and which you simply cannot stand.

They all have their downsides, of course, but in certain situations the trick might be the better option than reading the book.

There Are Ways to Consume a Book Without Reading it, But Should You? Book Culture

For example, Ayn Rand drones on at length in novels that expound her social theories (objectivism). Rather than spend a thousand hours reading one novel, it would be better to spend a hundred hours reading up on her theories and what people are saying about them.

Similarly, the Game of Thrones series makes for a tedious and plodding read in book form and an entertaining five seasons of of tv. Having spent months reading the omnibus, I can honestly say that it was more fun to binge-watch the tv series (aside from the gratuitous rape scenes).

These tricks do work to help one get the gist of a book, yes, but they're not perfect. In many cases the details that filter through often lack the nuance of the original book.

You might, for example, watch Hannibal and Silence of the Lambs and come away with an understanding of the story, but there are many details which were changed when the novel was adapted into a movie, and then (later) a tv series.

I'm reading Silence now, and I won't give away the story. But I will say that the pacing is very different and that the book goes into far more technical detail (and is the better for it).

The novel is giving me a better understanding of both the tv series and the several movies.

There Are Ways to Consume a Book Without Reading it, But Should You? Book Culture

Of course, you can't say that about all novels; sometimes the movie has been so radically rewritten as to be a different story entirely. The movie version of Kick-Ass, to name one example, is a polar opposite to the graphic novel. The movie was completely rewritten without many of the nuances of the comic book, changing it from a social commentary into a fairly generic action movie. (And don't get me started on Starship Troopers.)

O O O

So as you can see, i have an opinion on this. What's yours?

While we're on the topic of cheat reading, what's your favorite trick?

images by CarbonNYCMoyan_Brennistolethetv

About Nate Hoffelder (9946 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

2 Comments on There Are Ways to Consume a Book Without Reading it, But Should You?

  1. I’m honest, I’ll say I haven’t read it but this is what I heard…

  2. I LOVE the Silence of the Lambs cosplay photo! As for books versus movies, I will say that I was really happy Wolf Hall got made into a TV mini series because it was written in present tense, and I cannot read present tense novels. It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard for me. I love historical fiction, but I like the past in the past tense.

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