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Part of this complete breakfast

One of the best bits of my job(s) — maybe even THE best bit, on some days — is all the reading. I’ve always been a…shall we say…revolting glutton of a voracious reader.

I read so many books, quickly, deeply, and often a few times over. (“Oooh, that bit was particularly good…better make extra sure it’s clean.”)

When I’ve got my editing hat on, I’m elbow-deep in the language, but you can’t edit without getting to the heart of the text and knowing what the author’s purpose and theme are — their raison de plume if you like. (I don’t, but you might.) Editing is the other side of the writing coin: both are about capturing an idea in the best words possible, and planting that idea in the reader’s mind with as little loss of information as possible. To edit well, you have to know what the author’s core message is, and you have to know their voice: that’s how you know which bits of the sentence/paragraph/book you need to trim away. Ya gotta know it to mow it. (I’m hoping that catches on.)

When I’m wearing my proofreading pants, I’m looking at format, flow, and layout: working through the text as it is presented in proof form. It’s like the final dress rehearsal. To keep an eye on consistency and/or overuse of phrasing, I read the whole text in as close to one sitting as I can: sometimes I find the books too much fun, and I have to make myself to a second read, slower and more methodical, but that’s no burden.

On the other hand, when I’m wearing my indexing ballgown, reading the book multiple times is a must. The first pass through is to get a sense of the primary goals and themes of the book, so I can make sense of what a reader may hope to get from the text. Then I do a few subsequent passes through to catch the supporting and related topics; and I’ll usually do a final pass through to grab any tangential topics, places and people.

It’s glorious: I’m reading a lot of books I may not otherwise get around to reading. I work on non-fiction, so I’ve read memoirs, political histories, geographical histories and essay collections, among a lot more. It’s been splendid. Diversity in my reading diet: here for that. Getting paid to read books? Definitely here for that!

I’ve noticed, with some surprise, that this increase in time spent reading has done nothing to suppress my recreational reading. It’s not like I finish work of an afternoon and go “ugh, I can’t look at another word.” Quite the opposite: I’m reading with more gusto than I ever have, and my focus and appreciation for books seems to be ever-expanding. It’s just a shame there aren’t more hours in the day.

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