Finding a book gif

Would the act of quick looking through a shelf to find a book be called "browsing through the shelf"? Are there any alternatives to describe the same action?


"Which hex do I enter? Which wall do I look at? Which shelf do I skim through? Which book do I open? What page do I read?"

What do you think, "skim through" works here?

  • 1
    Browsing has nothing to do with speed. You can browse slowly just as easily as quickly. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jul 19 '19 at 2:54
  • @JasonBassford So, "browsing through the shelf" won't work right? – Rhythm Jul 19 '19 at 5:37
  • 1
    Browsing through the shelf is a perfectly fine phrase. But it doesn't mean that you were looking at the books at any particular speed. I could spend a minute browsing through books or hours. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jul 19 '19 at 5:44
  • @JasonBassford Oh, I see. – Rhythm Jul 19 '19 at 5:57

I would probably say: “I ‘skimmed’ through the bookshelf. ”

But with either option you choose, it would always help to add the adverb “quickly” for emphasis and brevity.

  • I'm not sure whether it's right or wrong, but that's what I've been thinking. – Rhythm Jul 19 '19 at 5:30

"Browsing through the shelf" or "browsing through the books on the shelf" could indeed be used for a quick look such as is shown in the animation. However, without context it would tend to imply a somewhat longer and more protracted examination.

"I scanned the bookshelf for X" or "I scanned the bookshelf for the title I wanted." (as suggested in the comment by Weather vane) comes closer, but even this tends to suggest a somewhat longer and more through examination of the books.

"I glanced at the shelf looking for X" or "I glanced through the books looking for X" suggests to me a very brief review of the books on the shelf.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.