Getting lost in books: the language of reading


by Kate Woodford

I was lucky enough to be on holiday last week and spent a portion of it with my nose in a book (=reading). It made me think about all the nice reading-related language that we use, and I thought I’d share it with you in today’s blog post.

The ‘nose in the book’ idiom, by the way, is usually used about someone who is always reading, and the noun ‘head’ is sometimes used instead of ‘nose’: My younger brother always had his nose in a book. / She’s usually curled up on the sofa, with her nose in a book. Someone who loves to read and spends a lot of time doing it may be called a bookworm: Jess is a total bookworm. She always has her head in a book.

Continuing with the theme of enthusiastic reading, if you devour a book, you read it quickly and with great interest: He devoured all three books in the series. If you read a book (from) cover to cover, you read all of it and if you read it at/in one sitting, you read it all during one time of sitting somewhere and reading: Millie read the whole book, from cover to cover in one sitting.

People often talk about getting lost in a book, meaning that they give the book so much of their attention that they don’t notice or think about anything else: I love that feeling of getting lost in a book.

A favourite book that has been read many times may now be dog-eared, meaning that its pages turn down at the corners: I found a dog-eared old copy on my father’s bookshelf. Another adjective for a book that shows signs of damage after much use is well-thumbed: I came across a well-thumbed copy of the novel in the library. Two other adjectives for old, much-read books that are no longer in good condition are battered and tatty: I have a battered old copy here that belonged to my uncle. / I bought a tatty old copy of the book in a second-hand shop.

But what of the opposite, when we read without enthusiasm? Perhaps we read a chapter or two of a book, but didn’t find it interesting or exciting. We can say, slightly informally, that the book didn’t grab us: I don’t know why I couldn’t get into the second novel. It just didn’t grab me in the way that the first one did.

If we’re not interested in a book, we may find ourselves skipping (= not reading) parts of it: I’m afraid I skipped some of the descriptive passages.

If you’d like to learn more reading vocabulary, you might like to look at another post on this blog; Phrasal verbs for reading


16 thoughts on “Getting lost in books: the language of reading

  1. Ravi gautam

    Don’t worry it happence becouse of level of under standin that book might be asking you to stop and think… at the same time it’s posible that your mind might not interested further..

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