Sometimes we read books rather quickly and don't give them much (or any) thought, so the action 'reading' does not necessarily imply that we have given enough thoughts to any book we read.

Is there a word that describes reading a book with great care; usually but necessarily slowly over a long period of time.

  • 5
    Not a word, but a verb phrase: pore over. Nov 6, 2012 at 20:05

3 Answers 3


The closest you're likely to get in a single word is peruse.

  • 2
    +1: This. Although it has lately been used to mean skim, it really does imply a close and thorough reading.
    – Robusto
    Nov 6, 2012 at 20:37
  • 1
    Just so. It is also used incorrectly to mean browse. The correct meaning of peruse is the opposite of skim, but people have used it to mean skim by sort transposition of meaning. People hear it being used for reading, and without being attentive to the kind of reading, use it again for a different, indeed opposite, kind of reading.
    – Ryan Haber
    Nov 6, 2012 at 22:54
  • To the extent, indeed, that one of the OED's definitions is 'To read through or over; (generally) to read. In later use also: to browse, skim.' Nov 7, 2012 at 7:28

Close reading describes, in literary criticism, the careful, sustained interpretation of a brief passage of text. Such a reading places great emphasis on the particular over the general, paying close attention to individual words, syntax, and the order in which sentences and ideas unfold as they are read.

Slow reading is the intentional reduction in the speed of reading, carried out to increase comprehension or pleasure. The concept appears to have originated in the study of philosophy and literature as a technique to more fully comprehend and appreciate a complex text. More recently, there has been increased interest in slow reading as result of the slow movement and its focus on decelerating the pace of modern life.

For single word alternatives, you would simply study a text.

  • Yes - although I would say a careful reading seems much more familiar to me than a close reading. The Google Books usage figures there are remarkably close, but I'm not sure if they reflect a US/UK divide, or if maybe academia favours close over careful (I'm assuming there must be some reason why I don't see them as equally common). Nov 6, 2012 at 21:24
  • Came here for study, left fulfilled. To me there are three degrees: you can skim a book, read a book, or study a book.
    – ghoppe
    Nov 6, 2012 at 23:30


Pore over. Pored over. (Avoid pouring over books, fluid irregardless).

Examine minutely.



With deliberation.

Possibly among the best, but not so 'euphonic' is "Reading for detail ..." - A possibly unfamiliar but well used term. eg

Answers - What is reading for detail?

  • Reading for detail can mean that when you read you pay very close attention to each and every detail in the reading such as dates, quantities, and names.

One stop English

  • Skills: Reading skills include reading for gist, reading for detail. There are also speaking activities and opportunities for writing practice.

Improve reading skills

  • ... Extensive reading - used for pleasure and general understanding Intensive reading - accurate reading for detailed understanding.

Also and here

NGram. "Reading for detail", with "a dark and stormy night" for frequency of use comparison.

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