Drinking a book

Ah! Confusing?

Not its not. If you are an aspiring writer, how many times have you been told to read, read and read? But did anybody ever tell you, how?

Exactly. This article is precisely about that. How to read a book?

Reading can be of many types. It can be superficial, thorough or complete. We are going to talk about the last one. This is where you drink the essence of the book. Not to become more knowledgeable but to learn for what it is; to bring the qualities in your writing.

That’s why I chose to call it drinking a book against reading.

Activity Books

When you read a book, especially of the genre that you write or aspire to write for, here is what you should do. (These steps use the example of a picture book – that I mostly prefer to write)

  1. Make it a meditative task. Decide a longer time duration that you will spend with the book.
  2. Smell the pages. Touch the texture and enjoy its feel.
  3. Look at the cover page and get lost in it.
  4. Read the last page and the summary.
  5. Start reading very slowly, paying attention to every word trying to understand the meaning that is hidden.
  6. Count the number of pages.
  7. Count/Estimate the number of words.
  8. Understand the writer’s style, his strong areas and usage of words.
  9. Learn new words as you read.
  10. Look at each of the illustrations and their style.
  11. Understand the book design.
  12. At different stages of reading, ask various questions to yourself about the book:
  • Did writer illustrate it herself?
  • What is new and unique in the book?
  • Why audience love or like the book?
  • How different would the story look if you wrote it?
  • How is book presentable and saleable?
  • What size is the book and why?
  • Is it re-printed or printed for the first time?
  • What should be the expected sales for this book?
  • What is being said and how?

And so on..

Feel free to shuffle the order of the points as you apply them. You may also find new ideas popping up when you apply this exercise. Feel free to experiment. You can also consider it as deeply contemplating on the book rather than just reading it. This is the best way to drink a book and imbibe its essence so that it becomes a part of your life, your writing and your style. Don’t worry that you might end up copying that style but instead the more styles you understand, the faster your own style takes shape and emerges on its own.

You can use this method of reading for the books you love, you admire or ones in your area of specialisation.


Good Luck!