Scarf or savor: the art of choosing and devouring a book

Posted: January 15, 2015 in Miscellaneous, Musings, Personal
Tags: , ,

As I write this, I’m a little under the weather, with a sore throat and the sort of runny nose that doesn’t run enough to keep blowing it but just enough to be both annoying and irritating, to the throat as well as to me in general. I went out for some of the weekly food specials, then came home, filled a cup with hot water, lemon, and honey, and sat down to relax and choose a book.

Therein lies my dilemma.

I scored the latest Dick Francis book yesterday. The books are now written by Dick’s son, Felix, as they have been since Dick died in 2010 at almost 90 years old. Although he and his son had been writing together for some time, I was crushed, supposing that the long line of horse racing-related mysteries that I enjoyed would be at an end. Fortunately not. Felix, who had evidently been collaborating on the books for a long time before his name also appeared on the cover, has continued writing and, to my mind, as well as his father.

But this isn’t about recommending Francis’ books (by either author or both, although I do.) It’s about finding out how you choose the order in which to read your books and how you go about reading the book you’ve chosen.

When you go to the library, or bookstore if you’re wallowing in money, and come home with a stack of new books by favorite authors as well as new ones that caught your eye, which do you read first? Do you scarf or savor? Do you grab the one most appealing to you and dive right in? Or do you choose other books first, letting the thought of that special book simmer in your mind and heart, anticipation building for just a little longer??

Once the choice is made, the next big decision is how fast you’ll read it. I happen to be a fast reader, so sometimes I deliberately try to read slowly, to savor and to keep from reaching the end too soon. On the other hand, when the book is good, I want to get to the end, find out “who dunnit” or who ended up with whom. Sometimes I enjoy the satisfaction of knowing I figured it out. Sometimes I’m taken by surprise.

Oh, yes. Don’t forget the last big decision…do you peek at the ending? Come on, tell the truth. My husband does this all the time. I do it rarely, but sometimes I just have to know if my guesses are right.

Ultimately, though, the end result is the same. You finish, hopefully happy and replete, take a moment to savor the fullness…

and then (unless you’ve just read the last book in a long series hitherto unknown to you and can now go back and start at the beginning), the year-long wait for the next book begins!

So what about you?  Do you scarf or savor?

  1. Tish Farrell says:

    Sorry to hear that you’re not very well, Janet. In which case – do what comes naturally. When it comes to it, you might feel more like a slow read – soothe the germ away. 🙂

  2. Su Leslie says:

    Take care of yourself Janet; i hope you feel better very soon. I love this post; you’ve captured how i read exactly. The mix of scarf and savour; the occasional cheating. 🙂

  3. suej says:

    Get well soon, Janet….enjoy those books! I never cheat, unless I give up on a book. I rarely fail to finish a book, but occasionally if the prose is dire, or the plot just doesn’t engage, i stop reading it…life is too short.

  4. Hope you’re feeling better. 🙂 I have two books going at all times with one on the treadmill and one on the nightstand. I read at different speeds depending upon the plot. After many years of bookshelves overloaded with books, I now reserve and pickup at the library. I now like returning them when I’m done. 🙂

    • I do both, Judy–have lots of books at home (which I’m attempting to winnow) and lots of books at home from the library. I could never afford to buy all the books i read and our house would look like that of a hoarder. But I do collect my favorite series from library books sales and other places where they’re $1-2 for a hardcover or $.50 for a paperback. I also have some collected on my Kindle, but only if they’ve been on sale. E-books are rather expensive when you think you can’t resell them or give them away.


  5. Nato says:

    I seem to savor but that is mainly due to life getting in the way of my free time. With two jobs, family members to care for, two blogs, and the military requirement of having to work out…..reading is sometimes a difficult blessing to get. But, last night, I took a couple hours to sit at the sushi bar with a book and wine. It was scarf heaven! Hope you feel better soon:)

  6. Cathy Ulrich says:

    I usually don’t have a lot of time to read during the day, but I almost always read for a few minutes in bed before turning out the light, so by default, I savor my books. My favorite genre is historical fiction so it’s easier to savor those. When I do pick up a mystery thriller, I will often scarf it, but I never peek at the end. Hope you’re feeling better soon, Janet.

  7. I hope that you’re on the mend soon. When it comes to books, I savor!!! There is one book titled Illusions by Richard Bach that I have literally read hundreds of times, as I have owned it since the eighties. I can repeat many sections by memory, and given my memory problems, I’m shocked it’s still in there! Huge smiles and hugs, blessings in healing and love, of friendship.

    • Thanks for the good wishes, Belinda. I know about re-reading books; I do it all the time. That why I collect books by my favorite authors, even though I could usually get them at the library. They’re like old friends who I know and love…and sometimes I even discover something about them I didn’t know or remember.

      Blessings on your day,


  8. Honie Briggs says:

    I scarf. I can’t help it. I do have to admit that most of the books I have read recently were for school. So, choke down is a more accurate description of late.

  9. helenscribe says:

    Books are the therapy that makes the flu almost welcome. There you are, clearly out of the running for a while, so why make yourself even more miserable? Go for the best–like a box of Black Magic choccies, scarf the best early on, knowing you’re knocking the socks off whatever ails you. Then it’s merely a matter of “Is this a four-book fever, or a six-book event?” Enjoy it while you can. Life’s too short to waste on discipline. At which point I wish you good health–eventually.

    • Helen, thanks for the delicious advice. I had a champagne truffle (dark chocolate) that was one of six truffles my husband gave me for Christmas and that was quite a treat. I’ve been drinking vanilla rooibos tea all afternoon and enjoying a book. I also managed to some financial things in order, so that was good. Close to dozing off right now, with the sun shining brightly in. Fortunately, I don’t think I have the flu and whatever I have is going away, so that’s good.


  10. There sure is a whole lot of sickness going around these days… Such a bummer that you’re “sharing” the fun as well.

    I guess you could categorize me as one who savors books, but really, I just take a long time to focus and sit through a whole story. Darned short attention span prevents me from really diving deep and becoming immersed in a story. My mom, on the other hand, typically finishes every book that crosses her path in 1 – 2 days. It’s truly impressive!

    • Your mom and I have a lot in common, Hannah. When our girls were little, I got library cards for both of them so that we could go beyond the 50 books allowed on my card alone. Eventually, the librarians all knew me, some by name, and they never cared how many I had.


  11. In answer to your questions, “it depends.” If there are just a few of a certain author’s books available (for instance, Elizabeth Taylor) I read them very slowly, savoring every word. If it’s book club fodder that can bore me silly, I plow through fairly easily. I never read the ending, ever. My mother always reads the ending first. I guess we balance each other out. And I do quit on books much more readily now. When I was younger I thought if I didn’t “get” a book, then the fault must be mine. Now I don’t care. Next!

  12. A little bit of both here depending on how much time I have. 🙂 I hope you feel better soon!

  13. diggingher says:

    What a great post. I too struggle with which one should be next. Sometimes none of the to be read already owned books will satisfy the current need and I go out looking for something different. But often the next book just speaks to me. I definitely abandon books I don’t like…life is too short for bad books. I don’t peek, ever.

    • After three days of reading other (still desirable) books, I’m ready to start that Dick/Felix Francis book. I feel quite proud of my restraint. 🙂 It’s going to be fun.


  14. I tend toward savoring. I hate to admit that I often buy books on Amazon sparked by something I have seen or read that’s caught my attention. Just bought my first Thomas Merton book after reading quotes on one of the blogs I read. It arrived in the mail today. Now – after I read the last 10 pages of my current book do I read this one or “A Path Appears” next? It will be interesting to see which speaks the loudest. 🙂 (Thanks for dropping my my blog and I hope you feel better!)

    • I’m on the road to recovery and have devoured or savored quite a few books while recovering, one positive side of not feeling great, I guess. Good luck with you book decision. 🙂 Thanks for coming by, too.


  15. Jude says:

    I’m afraid to admit I’ve gone digital. Due to living in the sticks in France with no hope of buying English books I have become Amazon’s favourite customer. I chafed at the thought of not being able to hold a ‘real’ book and turn the pages, and resisted the change, but common sense prevailed in the end. Books are far cheaper when bought from Amazon on Kindle, and of course there’s no postage cost to France. So I keep tabs on all my favourite authors and decide on my new purchase when my current book is finished. How fast I read is entirely dependent on the story – but if it’s by Jo Nesbo (my very very favourite author) I try and savour every page! 🙂

    • I completely understand. My s-i-l lives in France and has the same problem. But what I didn’t realize is that you have to buy from Amazon in France, which means more expensive books and not nearly as many in English. I guess it’s a copyright issue or something. I don’t mind how I read, just as long as I’m reading, and our city is blessed with a good library system, so I’m happy.


      • Jude says:

        Ah, I think I misled you Janet. I have an Amazon UK account so I can buy from Amazon UK. You’re right about Amazon France being limited. 😀

      • My understanding from what I’ve read is that you have to buy from the country in which you live. If that’s not so, I should let my s-i-l know and perhaps she could set up an account in the US. Thanks.

      • Jude says:

        To get books from your sis in law needs to set up an Amazon account with a U.S credit card or bank card and a U.S address. I did the equivalent for the UK. I’ve been buying books this way for a number of years. Hope this helps.

      • It does. Thanks, Jude.

  16. says:

    I hope you are feeling better Janet. I have been on a reading frenzy , all in the same genre by accident. Just finished the Glass House today. I NEVER look at the endings. I scarf my books, also a fast reader and then trade them or keep the ones I love ! Sometimes I intentionally SLOW down when I am really enjoying a story. Happy Sunday!

    • I try to slow down when I’m really enjoying a book and don’t want it to end, but it’s so hard not to go as fast as I can to get to the end. 🙂 Great problem to have, though.


      • says:

        I have the same “problem” So I read it again sometimes!

      • I re-read lots of books that I really like. Sometimes I start at the beginning of the series and work my way through it again.

      • says:

        I do too and am now half way through Anna Karenina again and was thinking of looping back through Anne Rice for the third time in 25 years… but so many others. WILD was just great !

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