James Dawson: How to Read a Book

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1. Books roam freely in the wild. You can find them in practically all bookshops, some supermarkets, the internet and, if you’re lucky, a special building called a library, although these are now endangered in the wild.

2. Most books have distinctive outer markings to attract readers as they pass overhead. Some, often written by female authors, are frivolous and bright, while books by male authors, or very menacing books will have dark, serious jackets. The markings often, although not always, hint at the breed of the book, but quality should not be judged solely from the outside cover.

3. Before opening the book, ensure your reading environment is safe. Turn your phone to silent, switch the TV or computer off and give the book your full attention. Some people find it pleasing to read their book with a cup of tea or in a bath. TAKE EXTRA CARE with both of these things as both could render your new book unreadable.

4. Next, open the book. If you cannot read, you aren’t reading this right now and I’m very confused. If you can read, begin to decode the words, but also take special care to understand the combined meaning of the words. We call this ‘the story’ and it should always be better than the individual words and phrases used.

5. While reading, conjure vivid pictures in your head using the subtle clues the author is giving you about the fictional people and the things they are doing.

6. Unless a natural disaster hits your home town, do not sleep, move or eat until you have finished all of the words. If you find yourself eager to sleep, move or eat, there’s a chance the book you’re reading isn’t very good.

7. Once finished, think deeply about what has just happened in your head. Sometimes you may be compelled to revisit all or parts of the book.

8. Drag friends and loved ones into bookshops or libraries and, with slightly frenzied eyes, insist they buy or borrow the book you have just enjoyed. The only way to free yourself of ruminant, persistent thoughts about a book is to share them with others.

9. Wherever possible, track down the author of a book on Twitter or Facebook. Show them the fan art, fan fiction or cosplay you accidentally achieved instead of your coursework.

10. Repeat as desired.

under-my-skinUnder My Skin by James Dawson is out now!

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