Do you look things up when you read?

Hey Everyone,

You may have seen my library tweet about looking things up when you read. It’s much easier to look things up these days than it used to be. We have resources built into our eReaders and there’s always a phone or a laptop nearby.

So the question here is: “Do you look things up when you read?” That can be words you don’t know, or places or things or anything you’re not familiar with.

I can’t resist, can you? I don’t care if it takes me longer to read. It adds to my enjoyment and understanding. I did a bunch of that this morning!

Cast your vote and leave a comment!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

41 thoughts on “Do you look things up when you read?

    1. I get that, Noelle. For me the historical knowledge is important because I may not have a grip on the time period. Thanks for reading and commenting, Noelle!

  1. Totally! I use an ereader so I will check a definition immediately if I don’t know, and if it’s something else I leave a note and go back to it when convenient, or if need be, I look it up right away. (One of the reasons I have a lighter book in rotation so when I’m out I can read that without worry of not knowing something to get to next part of book)

    1. Yes the eReaders make it so easy! I’m more likely to look up a definition than dive deep into a subject on my Kindle. It’s good to have a lighter read going for those out-and-about times! Thanks for stopping by, LA 🙂

  2. Absolutely, for myself looking things up is an essential part of the reading experience. There’s a mix of things I need to know now (i.e. interrupt my reading) and things I need to know soon (wait until I finish), but always I do need to know. Great question!

    1. Hi Mark – for me it’s a balance because I don’t always want to go down the rabbit hole and lose my reading momentum. That said, I’m a curious person so looking things up is hard to resist. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Words are especially easy to look up with an e-reader but I particularly look up things like locations, authors or other books that are referred to, celebrations, and foods. I would not have bothered with most of that before. I generally do fine with words from context and hauling out the dictionary is not necessary. Well, I don’t think I even have a dictionary anymore. I most read on my laptop and I enjoy checking out things like where a story is set and historical sites, like in the Aunt Bessie stories. It isn’t necessary but it ads to the experience.

    1. Hi Zazzy – it’s one of the best features on eReaders and I sometimes use the Wikipedia link on my Kindle, but not as often because I ususally have it in airplane mode to save the battery. We still own a dictionary but it’s in our basement 😉 Thanks for the visit!

  4. Good discussion. I love my writing group but I take exception when anyone complains that they had to look something up. The implication is that a WIP should be “easy” to read. Mais, non. A book offers adventure and often a learning opportunity while it entertains. “Don’t guess–look it up” are words I was raised with and live by.

    1. Ah, yes, I can see that. I think some readers want to be entertained, not educated, so you’ll always get some of that. I think it depends on the genre. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Sheila.

  5. I look up not only words, but cultural and historical events mentioned in stories. I think I seek information in almost every book I read. I also Google images of places mentioned in stories, especially ones that I have never visited. I am currently reading Cloud Cuckoo Land and Transcendent Kingdom and I have already looked up quite a lot of information in both of these. This is one reason it takes me a bit longer to finish a book than other readers.

  6. Many years ago I would write the relevant words down and look them up at the end of my reading session. I would then try to learn them. That way it didn’t interrupt the flow. Now I only look anything up if really necessary and then only if I’ve remembered it because I haven’t written it down. And there’s no longer much point in trying to learn them 🙂

  7. This is a great question, and yes, I absolutely do!! Especially when reading historical fiction — I just need to know the facts behind certain events or people — or fiction set in other countries, where words and places and concepts might be unfamiliar. And of course, having a handy dictionary function on my Kindle is priceless!

      1. My husband absolutely refuses to read hard copy books anymore. First of all, he likes being able to use big fonts to make it easier to read, but he especially loves the Kindle as a non-native English speaker — it was life-changing for him to get a Kindle and be able to look up all the words he doesn’t know at the press of a button!

      2. Oh that’s perfect for him! I admit I do like the minimalist aspect of the Kindle and my new one is so nice and a lot lighter than my old one, which was 12 years old. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. My parents used to make me drag the dictionary out and look up stuff whenever I asked them what such-and-such meant. I guess it’s burned into me now. I feel compelled to look things up!

  9. This is an interesting question: I used to make a note of words I wasn’t sure of and would look them up later, but don’t do that much any more. I like to note interesting phrases which might come in handy. Unlike many of your readers, I still have a well-used dictionary at hand for interesting words. I actually enjoy coming across words that are new to me or which have been used in a different context. Background information on the setting – or even historical characters – can generally wait until I have completed the novel.

    1. Hi Anne – I like your traditional approach. It can be disruptive to drop everything to learn about the setting. Kindles make that so easy though. I don’t like proceeding if I don’t know what a word means. Thank you for reading and commenting. Hope you are enjoying a good book!

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