How Not To Read A Book and Why You Shouldn't


When reading a non-fiction book read it in a linear fashion. Do not examine the author’s conclusions beforehand. Do not scan the table of contents for the general outline of the book. Do not scan the index to find out what world the author operates in or what the main sources of information, if any, are. You must at all costs retain the element of novelty and surprise with non-fiction books.

After reading a non-fiction book do not, whatever you do, consider the truth of the matter. You are just reading a book after all – it’s not a documentary. Do not even consider running Google searches of the author’s name or the book title plus words like “negative” or “wrong-headed” or “criticism”. You don’t want to confuse yourself with multiple viewpoints and you certainly don’t want to feel like a fool for having read the wrong sort of thing, do you?


When reading a work of fiction you should remember to only consider the surface of the plot as the actors move from one action or situation to the next. And stay away from books where there is hardly any action at all. Do not presume that the author has a greater point or that the surface action may be pointing to a larger metaphor or secondary story. Of course, books based on popular TV shows will be the most rewarding as you will already be familiar with the setting and situations and won’t have to worry about slowing things down with philosophical ideas or anything.

General Reading Principles

Whatever you do, whatever book you read, do not think you are entering into what some people call a conversation with the author. Do not think of the author as a friendly teacher or mentor or even someone who wants to challenge you. In fact, try not to think of the author at all. Instill this value early on in your children by taking care never to read the author’s name out loud after the title.

Remember to read only for diversion, never for edification and most certainly not for amusement. You had all the education you needed in school and the television provides more than enough amusement. And do not expect to be amazed when you read – are you supposed to try and choose only the best books to read or something? As for the time you choose for this diversion, I recommend limiting reading time to television commercials that aren’t really funny.

With all these stumbling blocks to the potential reader I think I must conclude with one more final recommendation: do not read at all. Reading is best left to those oafish fools who, in the end, deserve what they get.

6 responses to “How Not To Read A Book and Why You Shouldn't”

  1. This needs to be published in print.

  2. Very fun! Woops, sorry, I think I was almost amused there. I apologize greatly. I’ll go watch reruns of Cheers now.

  3. Imani: Thanks! But I’m actually hoping it’s accidentally discovered by un-ironic high-school students who take it the wrong way.Carl: Welcome to Upper Fort Stewart, Stainless Steel Carl. I’m a very recent lurker at your blog. Great stuff.

  4. “PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.” – Mark Twain

  5. Welcome to Upper Fort Stewart, Rob, where I try to paint a Mark Twain sized target on myself whenever I can.

  6. […] How not to read a book and why you shouldn’t […]

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