This is a quote from W. Somerset Maugham's On Reading as a text in our textbook. And the whole sentence look somewhat like the following:

To know how to skip is to know how to read with profit and pleasure, but how you are to learn it I cannot tell you, for it is a trick I have never acquired. I am a bad skipper; I am afraid of missing something that may be of value to me, and so will read pages that only weary me [...].

Since the paragraph is talking about the skill of skipping, how to understand that he will only "read" pages that weary him rather than "skip" them?

I tried to google the original text but only found some quotes. Could it be a typing mistake of the publishing house?

  • I think you have misread/misplaced the word only. He's not saying he will only read pages that weary him (i.e. and no others) but that he will dutifully read all pages including those that end up having no other affect than to weary him- for fear of missing some important tidbits they might have contained.
    – Jim
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 4:27
  • @Jim think you are right... thx
    – Paul Allen
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 4:31

1 Answer 1


The author says "it is a trick I have never acquired". In this clause, it refers to skipping. In other words, the author has never learned the skill of skipping.

The author says that learning to skip is a good thing. But unfortunately he has never learned how to do it himself, so even if pages "only weary" him, he reads them anyway.

  • Thx and I think Jim has just pointed out what a stupid mistake I've made. ^-^
    – Paul Allen
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 4:32
  • 2
    Not a "stupid mistake" at all. It's a difficult sentence. I believe what you mean is, "I think Jim has cleared up my confusion" :-)
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 9:40

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