Sep 16, 2010

How to Read a Book


How many times have you flippantly snatched a book off a shelf, opened it with a nonchalant shrug, and gotten sucked in like you stepped into a whirlpool?
Or, on the other side of the coin, how many times have you anxiously built up tension toward opening a book with a fabulous cover, a good description, and lots of promise, only to find it dull and unrewarding?

I want to help you figure out how to read a book. Or at least, how to prepare yourself for reading a book for the first time.

Reading a book is an intense and adventurous feat, though many may be unaware of the details involved in the process.
I've decided that the first and most important decision the reader must make when picking up a new book is to promise the book his or her full attention and involvement. This is both for the book's sake, the author's sake, and the reader's benefit.

The book's sake: you're giving it a chance to prove itself that it has a message to send and that it will steer you along with it.

The author's sake: an author doesn't just sit down and right a book randomly. He/She writes with a purpose and does his/her utmost to deliver a message. The author writes and edits as best as possible, hoping to provide the reader with the ultimate experience. Success in this area makes a good writer. An author's one reward for writing a book (other than minimal royalties) is when a reader gives the book full attention and respect.

The reader's benefit: the reader (that's you) is extracting the fullest enjoyment from this book's story.

The first read of a book is, as I tend to think of it, the "inaugural read". You will never be able to experience the same feelings, reactions, and emotions to the same extent when reading a book for a second time. This book may leave you wanting to re-experience it all over again every day. Or it will leave you severely disappointed with a desire to burn each individual page.

This is why it is so important to enjoy it as much as possible the first time through. That may be your last chance.

When I read a book, I'm deeply vulnerable to the main character's plight and trials (unless I dislike the story and/or characters from the start). I get so deep into the story that its essence stays with me even while I'm not reading it.
Sometimes, when I finish reading a book for the first time, the era and feel of the book makes me only want to read books just like it. For example, with the Mark of the Lion series (F. Rivers), I only wanted to read well-written, deep, early-A.D., historical romance (until that glorious sensation fades).
If you are left with this feeling once you close a book, the author did a job well done.

So in a nutshell, when you pick up a book, give it the benefit of the doubt. Open your mind and heart to enjoying it as fully as possible. Give it your full attention--a little respect. Don't attempt to read it when you're on a couch in the middle of a party or a crowd. Settle down for a few chapters. Allow yourself to be sucked in to the character's point of view. Let yourself experience something new and unfamiliar. Enter that other world, even if the setting is the next neighborhood over. This is a way to truly travel without leaving your home. :)

Some of my most memorable "inaugural reads" are:
The Hobbit (J. R. R. Tolkien)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (J. K. Rowling)
A Voice in the Wind (Francine Rivers)
And Then There Were None (Agatha Christie)Mara, Daughter of the Nile (Eloise Midgen)
By Darkness Hid & To Darkness Fled (J. Williamson)
The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins).

I have a story behind each of these books--my location, why I picked it up, my time in life, where it took me.
Every story leaves you with a story. Share it.

So, tell me about some of your favorite reads. I want to hear about your greatest experiences with books! Here are some questions that could help get you started:

What book took you on your greatest adventure? (Doesn't necessarily need to be your favorite book)
What's your setting behind reading that book? (Lonely in Jr. High? It was the only book on the shelf? Recommended by a trustworthy friend?)
What are some other books that are more a part of you than just a book on the shelf?

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at

(Boy reading picture found at:
(Nutshell picture found at:



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  3. As a child, "The Magician's Nephew" book me on such an adventure! I might even go so far as to say that it was after reading that book that I seriously began to think of being a writer. I had "known" I wanted to be a writer for quite some time before that, but Lewis' book took me to the next level.

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    Those first readings are so special!

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