On Reading

After high school, I fell out of the habit of reading books. Many years later, I am trying to pick it up again. I have made half-hearted efforts to read "deep" books (i.e, theology, non-fiction), but have either given up or forced myself to trudge through several. Pleasure reading: fail.

Such experiences made me want to avoid picking up books in general. Then, I would open a novel (especially one by T. Davis Bunn* or John Grisham) and just devour it. As in, not look up for three days until the end of the last chapter.

Although feeling good about finishing a book, I would be discouraged by the discrepancy between genres. "Maybe I'm just not deep enough to get into a 'deep' book," I thought. While my study skills have definitely gone down hill since college, I do not think that is the main factor.

Instead, I believe my desire to continue reading a book directly stems from chapter length. The books I gave up on or trudged through have ridiculously long chapters. The ones I joyfully finished had shorter chapters. Long chapters are a problem for the following reasons:

  • In some cases, long chapters are like drinking out of a fire hose: a reader simply cannot absorb all of the information at once.
  • In other cases, the author takes way too long to say what needs to be said. I may be tracking for a few pages, but the chapter continues for many more.
  • Long chapters make busy people feel like failures. Not everyone has time to read a two-hour chapter in one sitting. A reader forced to pause in the middle of a chapter feels like a failure. A reader setting a book down at the end of a chapter feels a sense of accomplishment rather than failure.
Now that I know what discourages me from reading, I can avoid books with long chapters. Just kidding. Good books will likely continue to have long chapters, but at least I can try to cycle through books with varying chapter lengths.

Can you relate? Do you have any tips for reading books with long chapters?

*I highly recommend these books by T. Davis Bunn:
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