Cutting corners on reading almost never pays off

  • Follow Glynn Moore

Not long ago we ran an article about "reading aids" that some students use instead of actually reading a book that has been assigned in class.

Cited were Web sources such as CliffsNotes, SparkNotes, Wikipedia and Pink Monkey. Where were those things when I was a kid? Even the granddad of those, CliffsNotes, was just a baby when I was in school.

It wouldn't have mattered, anyway. I always read the book.

The one time I skipped the book and tried to bluff my way through the paper, I was called on to talk into further detail.

Even if I hadn't been perspiring profusely, the teacher would have seen through my ad-libbed version of the novel. I felt dirty for a long time after that.

Ethics aside, I never bypassed the book because reading was, and is, simply too much fun.

Some classmates graduated without ever having read a book besides the dust jacket and perhaps the first and last pages. I know adults today who have never read a book for pleasure.

Reading was fun, but I hated standing up and giving a report. That's why I liked Gayle so much.

My cousin's name came just before mine on the roll, and when she began to deliver her report, my brain took off its shoes, sat back and dozed.

You see, Gayle had a photographic memory. Her oral reports were more like recitations. She could have delivered War and Peace without breaking a sweat.

I knew that her report would occupy the rest of the period. As for the next day: Hey, I could die during the night. It would have been a small price to pay.

To this day, I don't like speaking in public, but I still enjoy a good book.

LET'S HAVE A WORD: Readers responded to last week's column about how I had sneaked in difficult words for two months as a vocabulary test.

Pete Cakanic Jr. was the first to write: " 'Gallimaufry' is a new one to me. In my Webster's, one word defines it -- 'hodgepodge.' "

Bill Dekle, of Millen, Ga., found a practical use for that word: "Couldn't help but notice that two of your early words today include perfect definitions of D.C. politicians: 'gallimaufry' -- a hodgepodge, mishmash, confused medley; and 'nimiety' -- too much of something."

And that was before the conventions were over, Mr. Dekle.

Sue Wilson wrote: "There is a Web site that not only will test your vocabulary skill, but also help feed the hungry."

She invited me to check out www.freerice.com and test my knowledge.

The site donates 20 grains of rice through the U.N. World Food Program for each work you define correctly. I was up to 640 grains before I had to get back to work, but let me warn you, the words are tough.

Longtime area resident Norma Rowe said she has heard "picayune" (which means trivial) all her life.

"My mother used it very often, and I've used it as well," she wrote. "However, after having looked it up in the dictionary, I don't believe we have used it correctly. Mother would say, for instance, that someone was very picayune about what they ate, meaning they were peculiar or picky, which, obviously, it doesn't mean. So I've learned something (again) at age 70. Thanks."

Chris Lydle enjoyed the big words and suggested: "If you haven't already got one, you should track down a copy of Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words, by Josefa Heifetz Byrne. It's exactly what the title suggests!"

Me, read a book? Why not?

Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.


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