Read Me

imagesAre you a skimmer or a reader? 

I’m guilty.  Sometimes I don’t read an entire review or blog post (gasp!) 

If a post is very long, I’ll skim.  If it’s a review for a book I’m currently reading, I’ll skim and comment that I’m reading it now and was just looking to see if the reviewer liked it.  If it’s a new-to-me book, or one I’ve noticed people talking about, I’ll read enough to see if the book sounds interesting.  Generally if it’s a review of a book I have read, I’ll read the review completely to see if I agree with the reviewer. 

I like chatty blog posts from bloggers I regularly read.  Any post that sparks debate or conversation is a good post for me!  Discussion = good!  But if it’s too long, I might lose interest. What does this say about my attention span??  

As a blog reader, I prefer shorter posts, bullet points, short paragraphs.  And with that in mind, I’m attempting to keep my own posts short as well, so that you’ll read them. 

SO I’d like to know:

Do you read most blog posts in their entirety?  Or, like me, do you skim?

Do you as a blogger make it easy for people to skim? 

Is skimming ok with you?  


57 Responses

  1. I generally try to read them, but I do skim those of a book I’ve read or I’m currently reading or a book I know I have no interest in.

    I do try to keep my posts short and use bullets when I can, because I really don’t mind skimming.

  2. I just added a new section to my book reviews that I call “the short of it.” It’s basically a 1-3 sentence review. It’s placed right before “my thoughts” which is the lengthier section of the review.

    I’ve gotten positive comments on it. People just don’t have a lot of time these days to read every single word.

    I skim a lot but if the post is of a personal nature, something about the kids or being sick or whatever, I will read the entire post.

    • That is a good idea! I know when I am reading product reviews, I prefer the ones where the author includes a “bottom line” or “pros and cons” section at the top. Based on that, I decide whether I am going to continue reading the review. For instance, if a video game has been panned by everyone else but this reviewer says he likes it at the top, I will read the rest of the review to find out why he likes it. Sometimes it turns out that he thinks it is a good game for a certain audience and the other reviewers didn’t pick up on that.

      I admit that I skim comments to see if something I want to mention has already been said. I also skim blog posts if the paragraphs are too long because I dislike large, unbroken blocks of text in any reading material. I often write long posts on my own blogs and then go back and condense them.

  3. I try to read blog posts in full, but I must admit I skim from time to time. Especially if it’s a lengthy post on a book I’ve already read or a book I know I won’t be interested in.

    I try to write short paragraphs in my posts to make them more reader-friendly, and I certainly don’t mind if people skim–I figure if I capture their interest they will read the whole thing, and if not, I’m happy they came by for a short visit anyway!

  4. I’m a skimmer. I do find that the personal posts draw me in most, especially if they’re funny.

    Reviews of books I have read I will read more closely, although I try to avoid reading reviews of books I am about to review until after I have written mine.

    Web readers as a whole tend to skim so articles/posts should try to be less than 600 words. And short paragraphs! It was hard reviewing books like this at first, but I found it cut out a lot of the waffle that I tend to go on with!

  5. Hmm, I never skim books … really! But, yes, I do skim blog posts sometimes. Like you, if it’s a book I have in my TBR I don’t want to read the review in great detail because I don’t want to risk spoilers.

    I need to be better at editing my own posts to not go on … and on … and on. Oh, and I love Ti’s new “the short of it” It’s like an elevator pitch for (or against) a book.

  6. This is me lately on google reader…

    Eh, not interested, mark as read. Hmmm, that’s like the 50th review I’ve seen on that one, mark as read. Self-help? Mark as read. Oooh, that looks interesting…keep unread and I’ll come back later and read and comment.


    So, yeah. I’m a big skimmer. Otherwise, I’d never get through everything.

    On the other hand, I can ramble with the best (or is it worst?) of them.

  7. I don’t usually skim books- if I find myself doing so, it’s time to evaluate how much I like reading the book and if I’m going to finish it! I read posts in their entirety if they’re about a book I’ve read myself, or look like something that would grab my interest- but something I know I won’t want to read? that one gets skimmed- a lot of them. Guilty, maybe, but I can’t manage to read them all…

  8. Hmm. Maybe I need to think how to make my reviews more skimmer friendly.

    Do I care if someone skims my posts? At this point (still early in my blog’s life) I’m just thrilled if anyone glances its way!

    I do skim reviews if I’m not sure I’m interested in the book, but I’m a fast reader and an effective skimmer, so I don’t really care about if a post is well set up for it.

    Thanks for giving my something to think about!

  9. I rarely skim books.

    I do skim posts when reading them, otherwise I’d never get through as many as I do :-), but there are still a lot that I read in full, especially if I want to comment and/or include them in my weekend link roundup.

    I think that when I write posts I don’t always make it easy for other people to skim them, though. I should work on that – far better to be skimmed than skipped entirely because I’m too long-winded!

  10. I’m a skimmer; it comes from a time management seminar I took years back. I’m fine with others skimming my posts as well 🙂

  11. You pretty much nailed it on the head in your post. I skim, except when really interested in the book/comment, or if it’s a blogger I’ve been with for a long time. For example, many authors’ blogs, I read everything. I will say though, that knowing this about myself has made me reconsider how I write my own posts. Sometimes I think a book or topic deserves more attention and write more, even if it’s just for me! Like most things, I guess it depends on the audience & purpose combo. Overall though, I do consider reading blogs one of those enjoyable activities that I dig up time to do! Love this community of readers!!!

  12. Yes of course I skim, but as a blogger, I would like for people to read my posts and am not particularly thrilled when I can tell that they didn’t in the comments!!!

    Terrible isn’t it? I try not to write long posts, but sometimes I do!

  13. I’m a skimmer when it comes to blog posts. If it catches me, I open it in its own tab to be read in full. Otherwise, I scroll on by. I just don’t have time to sit and read every single post, not if I want to get any books read.

    I very rarely skim books unless I’m looking for a quote or something in particular.

  14. If i skim, I usually do not leave a comment. I don’t want to risk revealing that really didn’t read the whole post. If I find posts and reviews that are enjoyable and interesting I do read them enitrely and leave a comment as well.
    I probably have committed a crime of writing longish posts that weren’t interesting enough to be read through and through,, but i think we all did at one point.

  15. Some blogs I read, some I skim, but mostly I’m a skimmer. What I do is look through the list of posts in my Google Reader and quickly get rid of any that don’t interest me (some memes, books I’ve seen reviewed a million times, lots of stuff from news feeds, etc.). Then I go back and start skimming the rest of the posts. If any catch my eye I read them more carefully. However, if I decide to comment on a post I DO make sure I’ve really read it before commenting.

    (After reading the other comments, I think softdrink and I could do things exactly the same!)

    On my own blog, I do try to make it easy to skim. For example, when I do book reviews (especially if they are long ones) I add sections with title in bold (The Plot, What I Liked, What I Didn’t Like) so my readers can skip to the part they are interested in if they want to. And I try to make my post title as relevant as possible so that if you know right away what it will be about.

  16. I do skim blog posts. If I see a book or author that interests me, I read the whole post. I subscribe to several blogs to keep up with possible choices for the library book club, so I find it very hard to read all the blog posts.

  17. Skimming is a useful skill, especially online. But I don’t cater to those who can’t skim by trying to write shorter posts. Some things can only be done in-depth. I find short reviews mostly useless.

  18. If I comment on a post, I’ve read it. But I do skim my google reader – if the first few lines don’t grab me, I don’t click through.

  19. I don’t skim. If I started reading it, I’ll finish it. I’m a fast reader, so long posts don’t bother me. I actually think a post that’s too short really doesn’t do me any good. I get a synopsis and whether the blogger liked it, but that really doesn’t tell me much.

  20. A little of both. I skim longer posts, sometimes. I guess it just depends on the book, the blogger, the mood. I’m trying to make my own posts shorter because I know I tend to lose interest if a post is too long and my posts are soooo wordy!

  21. I skim like crazy when reading blog posts. Some are just WAY too long. I do like posts that are easy to read, short with short paragraphs. And I do try to make mine fit that bill… usually.

  22. I’ve had these very same thoughts because I’m also a skimmer and been wondering if others do the same thing.

    I try to keep my blog posts short but interesting. I also try to keep my thoughts on books I’ve read short, most people don’t have a lot of time to read every post, I know I don’t. Most of my blog reading is done at night, after working a full time job plus my other full time job is waiting for me when I get home – my family. If I read every post in all the blogs I follow, I could just forget about reading any books or anything else for that matter. So, yeah, I’m a skimmer. 🙂

    I’m glad you wrote this post, it has put my mind at ease knowing most others do the same. 🙂

  23. Oh, yeah, guilty as charged. I follow so m any blogs, if I read each word of each post I’d not have time to sleep, not to mention go to work. 🙂 If the first couple of sentences grab me, though, I’ll usually read the rest. Just like novels ~ gotta have a hook.

    I wish I could say my own blogs are written to hook people in the first couple of sentences, but I don’t think so. I do try to write shorter posts and keep the paragraphs short, though.

    Finally, I really like Ti’s solution ~ “the short of it.” Think I’m going to steal that idea, Ti. I hope you don’t mind.

  24. I admit that I do skim posts and usually do so if a blog post is about a book that I’m currently reading and don’t want to read spoilers or if the post is very long. I am finding it hard to keep up with all of the blogs that I enjoy reading and if the post on a book review is too long it may loose my interest. If it is a discussion post with some great discussion I like to read the comments but have to skim if there are too many.
    This has made me stop and think about my own review writing style and how to style my reviews so that they highlight the book in an effective way.

  25. I am a total skimmer. I think I just have a short attention span and will only read something fully if I skimmed it and it really caught my interest. For book reviews I mostly skip to see if they liked it and why or why not.

    When I write my reviews honestly I don’t think about how to make it easier for others to skim. I mostly write as a stream of conscious what I thought about a book.

  26. Like most people, I do both. Bloggers I like personally or who make me laugh, I’m more likely to read rather than skim, even if the topic doesn’t interest me on the surface. But there isn’t a single blogger I haven’t skimmed on occasion for lack of time, and I’m sure the same holds true for my blog! And, unless I’m really caught up or the topic really jumps out at me, I skip most of the memes entirely. As a general rule, the more often someone posts, the more likely I am to skim or skip a few (or even unsub for a while) so I can stay up to date with more blogs.

  27. So it’s confession time, huh? Well I am a skimmer, I will admit. I’m very similar to how you’ve described yourself in what is a very concise post that I read it it’s entirety! If the first couple sentences really grab me then I continue. It depends who is writing, what the book is, but yes….I have nearly 200 blogs in my reader, I couldn’t possibly read every word but I like to keep in touch.

  28. Great subject, and great responses too!

    As for me ~ oh, yeah, guilty as charged. I follow so many blogs, if I read each post in its entirety, I’d not have time to sleep, not to mention go to work. 🙂 If the first couple of sentences grab me, though, I’ll usually read the rest.

    Just like novels ~ gotta have a hook.

    I wish I could say my own blogs are written to hook people in the first couple of sentences, but I don’t think so. I do try to write short posts and keep the paragraphs short, too. Sometimes I manage it.

    I really like Ti’s solution ~ “the short of it.” Think I’m going to steal that idea, Ti. I hope you don’t mind.

  29. Sometimes I read – sometimes I skim. If it seems like I might be interested in the book and haven’t read it yet, I will read the post. If the review goes on and on and on, I will likely skim to get to the meat. I like it when book blogs are to the point. But, sometimes I will read a long post, if the topic grabs me or is controversial or if I’m really interested in the book.

  30. I am definitely a skimmer. First sentence, last sentence, if it catches me I might read what is in the middle. Also, look at pix if they are there. Rarely read the whole thing.

  31. Since I use google reader to keep up with the blogs I follow, I start out by skimming. If the post is interesting to me for whatever reason–if I have time right then, I’ll read it more thoroughly. If not as much time, then I mark it as unread and go back when I have more time.

    As for my own posts, I know some are occassionally longer than others. I’ve noticed that the longer ones tend to be concerning non-fiction books. Maybe because I want to share some of what I’ve learned from those? Hmm.

    All very interesting to think about :-)!

  32. I usually just skim and I prefer short reviews over long ones. Mainly do not not having that much time.

  33. Oh yes, I’m a blog post skimmer. But If something catches my eye I’ll go back and read in more detail. That’s why it’s important to keep them in easy to read short paragraphs.

    If it’s a book I’ve read I’m likely to read it, like you to see if I agree with their review or one that I’m already interested in. I usually read discussion posts in full. I must admit too that if the title doesn’t draw me in I sometimes don’t even open it.

    If I read anything in full every single time, I’d be in trouble and never see the light of day!

  34. Fat-free for me, for sure, but I do read EVERY WORD of your posts, Lisa!

  35. I do skim posts but I read quickly too so I catch pretty much everything. If it’s a personal post I will read it or if it’s something that really interests me-like yours did-lol. For my own posts though-you know I write my reviews partially for me too as a record of what I’ve read. So mine are a little long sometimes but I’m ok with that. I hope people read and if they skim I hope they get the general idea of the book along the way.

  36. typically, i try to keep my reviews short and to the point. i don’t retell the story or give an overview, just my opinion–in under 300 words.

    i skip reviews if i’m reading (or will be reading) the book because i don’t want to color my impression. if a book interests me and the review is good, i take the time and read it. i’ve noticed that some bloggers ‘retell’ instead of ‘review’, so i don’t spend too much time on those posts. am i a snob? lol.

  37. I do both. If I see it’s a review of a book I’m not necessarily drawn to because of say, subject matter or genre, I’ll skim to see if something in the blog pulls me in and makes me change my mind. But if it’s something I’m inclined to read — or a post that otherwise compels me — then I’m all over it like white on rice. But, I do read VERY quickly. Not as quickly as I skim, though 🙂

  38. Guilty.

    I skim posts and skip a lot, there are just too many out there to read them all. I skip a review if it’s for a genre I don’t read or looks way too long (without paragraphs). Usually what draws me in to read a review is the book cover and the first few sentences. Also the book title, not that bloggers can influence that.

    I wouldn’t expect anyone to make their reviews shorter but they should at least be in small paragraphs. I even do that with my comments and many people I see run their comments on in one big paragraph. I skip those too.

    The reality is time is limited and there are so many things (bookish and not, online and not) that vie(sp?) for our attention, we can’t read it all.

  39. I am very much like you, in fact, I’m brainstorming over this weekend as to how to do more reviews but make them shorter and to the point. I like short and sweet too! Also, there are so many awesome blogs out there and books to read that I feel torn about how much time I spend on the internet vs. family time vs. reading time!!

    Great post for discussion!!!

  40. I skim if the review talks about the plot or the characters, unless I’ve already read the book. There is nothing I loathe more than already knowing what a book is about before I start it. Non-fiction is a different case, but not many book bloggers seem to read or review it often.

    Because of my feelings about spoilers, I make an effort only to talk about my feelings about the book or why someone would want to read it. I also try to keep it short. I wouldn’t care if anyone skimmed my stuff as long as they didn’t then try to start an argument or something. Not that that tends to happen.

  41. I have the attention span of a gnat. If a book, a blog post, heck a movie, doesn’t get my attention fast, it is going elsewhere. I skip long drawn-out posts purposefully. Obviously no one intended for me to read them or they wouldn’t be so long, right?

    I like when things are broken up, too. Bullet points, pictures, paragraph breaks for heaven’s sake. I more frequently read books that have shorter chapters, too. One I am reading now, Matrimony by Joshua Henkin has a first chapter that is over 50 pages long. I’m not kidding. That’s ridiculous. I have to come up with my own starting and stopping points because I have never read 50 pages of a book in one sitting in my entire life.

    I skim the google reader a lot, too. Especially on guest author posts because those tend to be the longest and most drawn out. Ugh. I don’t care how interesting something or someone is, if a post takes more than 5 minutes to read, it’s not worth it.

    I also tend to read a review if it is different than the one before it or different from the review I just read of the same book on another blog. There is one blogger, in particular, that I enjoy because she switches it up all the time, although I can’t remember who it is right now. Just shows you how good I am like that.

    I do like Ti’s new feature called “The Short of It”, which I remember because she mentions it in her comment here as well, because it is short and sweet and to the point for books that don’t require longer reviews. I am going to do that for some of the books I don’t like as much or DNF.

    • I love “The Short of It” too! Good idea for those you DNF. I usually write an “Unfinished” review for those I DNF, but I’m wondering if I should cut those down on size quite a bit…

  42. I try to skim. I want to be a skimmer but I can’t. I miss too much and end up going back and reading the whole darn thing again, be it a blog post or newspaper/magazine article.

  43. […] Lisa at Books on the Brain has a post about blog posts and skimming. Do you prefer long or short posts? Do you read completely or […]

  44. Skimmer here. 🙂 I try to keep my posts short, and I prefer blogs where the posts are generally short and/or broken up by lists or subheadings.

  45. I’m a skimmer. Right now I’m skimming through Reader because I haven’t been able to keep up with reading blogs lately. I have to skim or I’d never make any progress. Sometimes skimming gets me in trouble – if I miss something important. Occasionally, I’ll skim a book if I’m not really enjoying it but I want to find out what happens. I’m too new to blogging to say that I make it easy for readers to skim my posts, but I certainly don’t mind if they do!

  46. I’m guilty of writing ridiculously long posts. I bet you all skim mine 😛

    As for me, it depends. If I comment on a post, I read it, unless it’s a book I plan to read soon, or it’s part of a series I’m reading and I want to avoid spoilers.

    But I subscribe to too many blogs to be able to read every post on every blog. I wish I could, but it would be impossible. So every day when I open my google reader, I mark some posts as read and star others to read in detail and comment on later.

    How I make the selection is really not personal – I enjoy all the blogs I subscribe to. But because I can’t read everything, if the book in question really doesn’t seem to be my type I don’t always read the review. I also find myself skipping posts that are weekly memes much more than actual reviews.

  47. Depends.

    If I’m interested in the book to begin with, I read the whole review. (Unless I come across spoilers. Then I scroll down to the bottom to see if the reviewer gave it a rating). If I trust the blogger not to spoil me and I know I like their review style, I read the whole review. If I come across an interesting discussion post, I read the whole thing.

    I usually skim the weekly memes and such, unless something really catches my eye. I skim reviews for books that I’m not really interested in, unless I like the blogger’s style too much to ignore anything they write. If a discussion post doesn’t interest me, I’ll skim just to see if anything in it does catch my eye.

    I write ridiculously long reviews myself. I’ve tried to keep it brief, but it rarely works out. If I really liked something, I want to talk about it in some detail.

  48. I’m a skimmer. There are so many great blogs out there to read – how could you ever do it all?

    I don’t purposefully write short or long – I just write what comes to me – sometimes it rambles and other times I am pretty concise.

  49. […] it and according to one blog I recently read I am not the only one that skims the entry was called read me. So if I make short reviews that is pretty much the reason. Some thing my brother likes saying is […]

  50. […] Blog Posts Posted on May 26, 2009 by lisamm I picked up a few tips from the comments in Read Me and wanted to pass them […]

  51. […] picked up a few tips from the comments in Read Me and wanted to pass them […]

  52. […] picked up a few tips from the comments in Read Me and wanted to pass them […]

  53. I skim. I love Google Reader for the ease in having all my blogs in one place, but I think it mean that I don’t comment as much. It makes it too easy to just skim through posts. I’ve started opening interesting looking posts in a different tab, and then marking that blog as read. When I have several tabs, I go through them all and comment. It seems to help: I comment more, but don’t have to read every post.

    I strive to not have long posts, but I also post what comes to me, what touches me or something I really want to say. I always have to break up my paragraphs and I really hate posts that are one long paragraph.

    Great post!!

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