December 7, 2023 in 

A “sheep” in the book industry purchases books without reading them in whole or after only skimming bits and pieces, usually to support an author. The cover art intrigues them, or they trust their previous works. They might buy it even without reading it as they believe it will make them look clever.

Literary critics use the term sheep to refer to readers who take what they read without questioning or engaging with it critically; often, this term has a negative implication when applied to someone who lacks critical thought skills.

Sheep are often perceived as followers, which is evident in their reading habits. Instead of questioning what they read and engaging more fully with it, sheep often accept everything at face value and fail to question or challenge the author further. This lack of engagement may prove problematic as shearers must engage more fully with what is written in the texts they consume.

Not all readers who do not actively engage with what they read can be considered sheep; there may be various reasons for failing to critically engage with texts, including time constraints, lack of interest, or not knowing how. But if a reader consistently neglects to engage critically with texts they read, this could constitute being considered sheep readers.

Avoiding being a sheep when reading requires awareness of your biases, questioning if they are impacting how you interpret the text, seeking alternative interpretations either from readers or experts and being willing to modify your understanding based on new evidence that surfaces.

Becoming too sheepish may be dangerous, but it is also essential to remember the value of simply enjoying a text for what it is. Not every reader needs to be an academic critic analyzing every word in every book read; sometimes, just sitting back and enjoying the story may suffice.

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