Lab Notes

Short stories and links shared by the scientists in our community

A scientist tries to read a book, and is confused by the lack of subheadings

Shared by

María Elisa Terrón


Baylor University

I was reading a novel with a notebook and pen waiting for me on the table. I was sitting hunched over, squinting my eyes, holding the book with my two hands while I went over the first, last, and maybe some sentences in the middle of each paragraph and kept on flipping pages. Finished the first chapter not knowing the name of the main character, confused about the location, frustrated that I hadn’t taken any notes, and the leisure reading experience had become highly unenjoyable. Was I seriously trying to read a novel as if were skimming over a research paper? The novel didn’t have designated sections for the introduction, methods, results, and discussion. How rude! 

I was going over the first sentence of the paragraphs to get the main topic then the last sentence to get the conclusion and transition, and some sentence in the middle to get some details to put into context but only if I thought that the first and last sentences were relevant to me. I was utterly confused for an entire chapter of the novel because I just didn't relax and read it without attempting to take out structured content to be used for something else (ehm, research). However, when I went back to the chapter that I butchered in my reading, I was amazed and captivated by how the details were concrete, significant, specific and focused, and appealed to all the senses. The author took me on a pleasant journey. 

Sometimes we just gotta relax.