Reading Rules

My first grade teacher, Miss G., provided our class with rules for reading. At that time I had no idea that those “rules” applied only a portion of the time.

Along with other rules, we learned that:
  • When two vowels go walking, the first one usually does the talking.
  • When "c" is followed by "e, i, or y," it usually has the soft sound of "s." 
The key word in these rules is "usually."

As an adult, I’ve developed some “Reading Rules” that apply to the books I read in my spare time. As with the first grade rules, sometimes these rules do not apply, as when I foolishly take only one book along on a trip.

This week the reading for my trip was a book released by a major publishing company. Initially, I thought it would be a good choice. As it turned out, in order to complete it, I had to break most of my rules.

Rules broken this week:

  • Rule #1: If the book has a pattern of grammar and spelling errors, find another read. After only a limited number of pages, I decided the editor was ”out to lunch” (so to speak) while this book was in the pre-publishing process. Since I had no red pen with which to make corrections, I resorted to talking out loud to both the editor and the author.
  • Rule #2: If an author uses repetitive descriptions, back away from the book. The protagonist in my current travel read often has chills, even though it is warm, while the hair stands up on the back of her neck. I get it! She is frightened. What I don’t get is why a writer does not know any other way to indicate fear.
  • Rule #3: The first time dialog is followed by “And she (he) meant it,” stop reading.  Seriously? Am I to assume that, if dialogue is not so marked, the speaker did not mean what was said?
  • Rule #4: As soon as a give-away plot emerges, assume the fun has been spoiled and pass the book along to a reader who reads the ending of a book prior to reading the beginning. Weekend read was 500 pages in length and divided into 28 chapters. Before Chapter 5, I knew that the woman the protagonist was out to prove was her murdered ancestor was, indeed, her ancestor, and that she was murdered.  Somewhere around Chapter 12 I had guessed the story’s ending and knew who was out to get the protagonist. Soon thereafter, I also knew why.
  • Rule #5: If every character does things “suddenly,” head for the library to find a new read.
  • Rule #6: After reading the first line that indicates the story is becoming racy, take a deep breath and close the book, even though in love with the plot and characters. During the current read I had to “yada, yada” my way through about six pages of trash. These seamy scenes seemed an afterthought, and I’m guessing they were written by someone other than the author. I had to wonder if the editor maybe attended to her job just long enough to advise that something was needed to spice things up a little so the book would sell.
  • Rule #7: If the writing causes the reader to feel that he/she is a dumb commoner (as opposed to a titled/rich person), don’t go there. Although I can identify fabrics and recognize well-made clothing, I can not identify the designer of an outfit being worn by the person entering a room. And once I read that the Lamborghini “roars to life,” I’m not so dense that I will forget that, even though I have never had an up close and personal relationship with such a car.

I’m still on the road, so I need to get my Kindle charged and purchase a book that might actually be a good read.


  1. These rules, along with my own personal rule that if a book presents nothing that "grabs" me in the first fifty pages, it isn't going to grab me, impel me to put down most current books, some long before the fiftieth page.

    Hope you find something good to read!

    1. Vanilla, as much as I hate not finishing what I start, I will put a book down that fails to "grab" me.