Tag Archives: personal

unpopular opinion banner

Unpopular Opinion: I Never Read Excerpts, Sample Chapters, Previews, Etc

Ok, this might take a little explaining. Because, from a blogger’s perspective, I love posting excerpts. Which I acknowledge chances being a little hypocritical. Over on Sadie’s Spotlight, a blitz or spotlight with an excerpt is probably the most common sort of post I post.

I like them from that end because they are usually brief, non-graphical, and give readers an idea of what to expect from the writing in the book. I can usually tell from a paragraph or two if I’m going to like the author’s writing style or not. So, I feel like excerpts serve a purpose. I’m not arguing against them. As a blogger who promotes books on her blog, I love them and assume (by their prevalence) that other readers appreciate them.

Hate defHowever, as a reader myself, I hate them. I almost never read them, even when I post them if I’m being honest. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sneak peek into the next book at the end of a finished book, an excerpt on a blog (like I often post), a page flip on social media, downloading a sample from a bookseller, or previews from a bookfunnel-like promotion. I am not at all interested.

This topic came up today because I was looking at a Bookfunnel promotion, and as I scrolled through, I found Preview, Excerpt, Free Chapter, Sample Chapters, Teasers, Short Story in the whatever series, etc. And I said, “Well, this is a waste of my time,” and stopped scrolling. Whatever books were past that point, I never saw.

I’m speaking solely for myself here. But I will never knowingly download any of those, and I’m super annoyed if I think I’ve downloaded a book and only later realize it’s the just first 3 so many books so little timechapters or something*.

There are several reasons for this reluctance. The most important of which is time. It’s most important because it’s relevant in several ways. First, I own literally thousands of books. If I’m picking up a new one, it’s an addition I really don’t need, I want. As such, I’m not going to put any significant time or effort into it. I will not spend half an hour reading the sample to decide if I want it or not.

While I realize X number of pages as a preview is offered as an extended chance to decide if I want the book. To me, it feels like an imposition on my time. I do not want to read twenty pages to make a decision I can make based on the cover and blurb. That’s their purpose. I don’t want to make the process more lengthy and time-consuming.

Second, I hate, hate, hate with an abiding passion starting things I don’t get to finish. So, putting half an hour into reading three free chapters and then stopping is anathema to me. I cannot stress how much I dislike even the thought of this. I am not neutral on the subject of preview chapters from this perspective. I am strongly anti-**.

As an aside, this holds true for books too. I have become increasingly disenchanted with series lately because there is a trend in which plots stretch over entire series instead of having any natural stopping point at the end of books. I even recently posted looking for recommendations for standalones and omnibuses to avoid this.

reading goal as of 4/7/16Third, I’m a list maker. I get a lot of satisfaction building my yearly have-read list. Spending half an hour reading a sample and not finishing the book feels like a waste because there is nothing to log at the end of it. And I could have put that time into reading half an hour of a book I could log.

I’ve seen quite a lot of discourse lately from readers saying that numeric reading challenges and the drive to read more have stripped reading of enjoyment and made it feel like a chore. But this is not true for me. I very much enjoy the feeling of accomplishment I get from starting January first with a blank page and ending the year with a full list of books I’ve finished. And all the excerpts, previews, sample chapters, etc, don’t contribute to this accomplishment. In fact, I feel like they undercut it.

So, while I acknowledge that excerpts serve a purpose and I’m thrilled for those that enjoy them. I am aware, after all, that some people enjoy them as an amusement of their own, separate from the book they represent. My unpopular opinion is that I hate them. I feel like they clutter promotions up, and I wish they weren’t there. But even more broadly, I just don’t want to read them.

This is, of course, an “if you don’t want to read them, then don’t” situation. But since this is also my blog, I get to take a page to vent about how much I don’t want to read them.

end Image by Colleen O'Dell from Pixabay

*I’ll acknowledge a certain amount of audacity here. The Bookfunnel promotion in question was for free books. As such, a person shouldn’t complain too much about what is or isn’t offered up for free.

** Again, for myself, not in general. Others can and should do as they please.

i have big news

I have big news on the personal front.

I talked about this over on Sadie’s Spotlight already. But I should post here too. I have exciting personal news that will effect the running of See Sadie Read. I am going back to university to get a Ph.D. I’ve been saying I was going to do it for a while now. The bio on my About Sadie page has said, “I still plan to pursue a Ph.D. at some point, if life would just get out of the way…” for about 7 years. It’s long been the plan. But kind of a formless, “one day” sort of plan. Now it’s a starting August 25 and finishing by 2029 kind of plan!

acceptance letter

This is of note here on See Sadie Read for obvious reasons. For the last several years I’ve had an abundance of free time and read accordingly. Thus, we’ve seen 200-300 reviews a year for the last few years. That number is going to drop significantly.

Reading fiction is still my favorite hobby. So, I expect to still read and review fantasy. But I’ll be squeezing it in in a way I haven’t had to in a while. What’s more, I’ll be reading a whole heck of a lot of non-fiction. Already I have Internet, Phone, Mail, and Mixed-Media Surveys and The Public Policy Theory Primer sitting on my coffee table. I don’t plan to regularly review any of the texts I read for class. But if something strikes me as review worthy, I might drop one here and there.

For the most part, what you need to know is that I will be reviewing less fiction for a while. But See Sadie Read will remain, if in a diminished capacity…at least for a little while.

But in the end, I’ll be a doctor and have finally completed a life-time goal I set many, many moons ago. I’m nervous-excited. So, wish me luck.



banner w Photo by Universal Eye on Unsplash copy

How do you read so fast?

Do you ever have imaginary conversations with yourself? I found that I was doing that just now. I was explaining to myself how I can read 200-300+ books a year. As is so often the case, this came about completely randomly. I scrolled past this Instagram post:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Emma Hamm (@emmahammauthor)

And I thought, yep, there’s me the speed reader. But then I remembered passing this tweet a week or so earlier and thought, no that doesn’t really describe me:

Because I read fast, like really fast, but I can also tell you what color shirt Character A was wearing in chapter 11 and pick out underlying themes and tropes, etc. So, I’m obviously processing what I reading.

Someone on Goodreads once commented in a conversation “Wow, you’re a fast reader!” And then later complemented me with, “you assess the quality of books cogently and thoughtfully, and you have a very real, unaffected style of expressing yourself.”

goodreads challengesNow, I’ll preen under that praise in general (even if it was quite a while ago). But the point of including it here is the assessing the quality of books cogently and thoughtfully. I think I do that, but at a volume of 200-300 books a year. Admittedly, I don’t give every book an equally in-depth and deeply thought out review. But I am reading each book thoroughly enough to understand them on a fairly complete level and I do it very quickly.

The question I was pondering today was how. And I think I have an answer. Though I’m no neurologist (or whichever -ologist would specialize in this field), so what I think is happening in my brain may be way off base. And even if I’m right, there are probably far better, more accurate ways to describe it. But I’m going to try and describe it.

All credit where credit is due, my feet were put on this path by my husband. Earlier this year (maybe late last year, time has no meaning anymore) I was grumbling to myself and him. I’d been filling out an online form and done it wrong, which I do as often as not. And I said something  along the lines of, “I swear I didn’t used to be so bad at this. I have two Masters degrees for Christ’s sake. Surely I’m able to read a stupid form.” Very calmly, he said, “It’s because you don’t read.”

I blinked at him and went, “WTH, 300+ books a year says otherwise!” Now, I can’t remember every sentence that was exchanged, but the gist of what he said he’d observed me doing was that I don’t read a sentence by reading each word in that sentence (or instructions on a form). He was of the opinion that I read some of the words, maybe every third, and my brain simply fills in the rest—that I’m very good at extrapolating and filling in blanks. Predictably, I was incensed and responded, “I don’t do that!”

But as I paid attention over that next few days, I found that I kind of do do that. Maybe not that exactly, but some version of it. It explains why I can tell you what color shirt Character A is wearing in chapter 11, but 10 minutes after I finish a book I often can’t tell you the main character’s name. Because I don’t read “Sarah wore red.”  My brain just filled in my mental place holder of Sarah and red.” I’m not wholly visual. So, I’m not claiming to have a full cinematic picture in my head, but that my brain gleans the information without acknowledging the letters making up words. Does that make sense?

And this even kind of makes sense when I think about being a child learning to read. I had a very, very hard time learning to read. I got pulled out of normal class for remedial reading lessons at school, my grandma bought me Hooked on Phonics (anyone remember those), my mom worked with me everyday after school. I really really struggled to read. And this lasted long enough and I was old enough that I actually remember the visceral feeling of it all finally snapping into focus and understanding at last.

I call it my Helen Keller moment. Certainly, it’s not as dramatic as someone who was blind and deaf finally making a connection with words and meaning.

But it is a stark and true moment in my mind. In my imagination, something physically snapped into place and I understood something that hadn’t seconds before. And after it did, within the same school year, I was moved from the remedial lessons to the advanced.

When I discuss those early years with my mom, she laughs and says, “Lord, you were as dyslexic as the day is long.” Now, I don’t think there really is any such thing as “were dyslexic.” I’m fairly sure you either are or you aren’t and it’s a constant. I think what she’s getting at is that whatever normal pathway a child’s brain forms when learning to read, mine just couldn’t. There was an impediment of some sort. I imagine a road that normally follows a straight line, but in my case had to curve around a bolder. It took longer because it had to find and forge a new way. And because of that, the scenery is also a little different than other people’s. My ‘reading’ doesn’t work exactly like other people’s ‘reading.’ When my brain couldn’t make it work the ‘right’ way, it found an alternative way.

This is where an -ology would come in handy. I have no idea if that’s accurate. But it’s how I imagine it. And if the way my mind found was to read the parts of a sentence that make sense and fill the rest in (and to have gotten really good and accurate at it over time), well that makes sense to me too. As does being fast because it’s not reading/processing each individual word. And predictably, it works a lot better with fiction than forms.

None of this is something I do purposefully. It’s just how I read. I don’t know any other way to do it. I literally don’t know how to slow down.

So, there’s my totally random, possibly ill-conceived rambling post for today. Enjoy.