- Given our growing impatience and limited attention span (our minds are overheated in the filtering of information, like traffic control towers making sense of landings and take offs) we stop reading soon before we start. We ask colleagues, or our boss, ‘please skim through the document’, not ‘please read thoroughly and slowly’. If you want to get attention, you’d better make the points upfront. Or it will be too late. Journalists know that.
- The high context mind/culture people start the narrative with ‘considering this’, ‘given that’, ‘taking into account these’ ,and then state or request something, maybe in page 3. The low context mind/culture people say what they want and then explain how they got to that conclusion: I am asking you to approve X (one sentence) ; this is why (several pages). Each type of mind drives the opposite absolutely nuts.
- In a longer piece of text, a book, it may be painful, but the beef may be served at the end. But people only read the beginning. Have you ever noticed that, very often, the text that is written in the book jacket as a summary of the content sounds incredibly similar to the first pages of the book? Which makes you wonder if the writer at the publisher company stopped at page 10.
- In novels it’s not unusual to find whodunnit in the last pages. In John Grisham’s thriller ‘Camino Island’, a book that I have read as part of my self-psychotherapy to clean up my brain with low energy use, all that it is to know is at the very, very end.
- I confess I have a bad habit of almost never starting a book from the beginning.
- Talking about that bad habit of the last pages, a book reviewer pointed out:
If I remember right, it was on about the last page that Richard Dawkins admitted we can actually transcend the supposed lumbering robot that “selfish” genes don’t, in fact, make us. I suppose they [authors] hope that by then most have stopped reading and the title has done all the work. Thank God for thorough reviewers.
- There is a plethora of book reviews that condense it all for you in 2 or 3 pages. Author James Clear is to me the most adventurous with book summaries in 3 sentences. And having read some of those books, I think it’s hilarious how accurate he is.
- We live in a 280 character, one screen, executive summary world. The next thriller will have one page with a line: ‘the butler did it’.
- There is no particular order in this rambling. It is in fact a self-test to see how far you went reading.
- The numbering is also artificial, to give you the impression that this was an incredibly structured piece of thinking.
Previously posted in July 2018.