How to Skim Through a Book

If you don't have much time and you need to determine whether a book is worth purchasing, borrowing, or reading, 'skimming skills' will aid you in the process.


  1. Image titled Read Title Step 1
    Read the Title - dead giveaway.
  2. Image titled Read Subtitle Step 2
    Read the subtitle - some titles are ambiguous, but subtitles tend to shed more light.
  3. Image titled Read Preface Step 3
    Read the preface - usually the writer(s) explain exactly what the book is about.
  4. Image titled Look at table of contents Step 4
    Look at the Table of Contents - this will give you further information on the books subject structure and components.
  5. Image titled Read Publishers Blurb Step 5
    Read the Publisher's blurb - usually located in the back, some are found in the book's dust cover. This too is an excellent way to discover the gist of a book.
  6. Image titled Identify Important chapters Step 6
    Identify important chapters to read and less important chapters.
  7. Image titled Read first and last lines of Paragraph Step 7
    Read the first and last lines of each paragraph to get a feel for the flow of argument and the topics of the chapter.


  • Reading topic sentences and concluding sentences only works if the title is professionally written non-fiction.
  • Some religious books index Scripture passages. This is called a "Scripture index."
  • Finally, you may want to consult books which will help you develop active reading skills, a classic one would be "How to Read A Book" by Adler and Van Doren.
  • Take notes, since you are not reading you will need these notes to help you remember.
  • Check out the "Index" of a book. This will give you somewhat of a bird's view of subjects and amount of space the writer devotes to each topic. This is called a "subject index."
  • Some books even offer an index of authors the writer refers to in the book. This is called an "author index."


  • Publisher blurbs are often written by a marketing department and so although seldom inaccurate, they may bear little or no resemblance to the material, veracity, accuracy or approach the book takes to the material.

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Categories: Borrowing and Sharing Books