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Washington Read

The “Washington Read” is the phenomenon by which, through a form of intellectual osmosis, a book is absorbed “inside the Beltway.”

From the Washingtonian:

According to former White House speechwriter Dan McGroarty, to qualify as a Washington Read, a book not only has to be ambitious; it also needs “to be a book one would feel pressure to have read, and read early.”

This need to be ahead of the curve, coupled with demanding jobs that leave little time for reading, pushes people toward the Washington Read.

The term is can also be used in place of the “Index Scan,” which is when someone glances over the credits and footnotes to see if they’re mentioned.

The process typically involves checking the book’s index or table of contents for mentions of one’s name, organization, or any relevant topic of interest.

This is followed by reading only those sections or chapters.

The focus is on extracting information that may have immediate relevance or utility, such as insights into political strategies, policy discussions, or revelations about political figures or events.

While this practice may seem superficial, it is driven by the fast-paced and information-dense environment of Washington D.C., where time is a scarce commodity.

Use of “Washington Read” in a sentence:

  • The senator, known for his Washington Read approach, quickly skimmed the newly released political memoir, focusing on sections that mentioned his name or policy interests.
  • Critics argue that the Washington Read, while efficient, can lead to a fragmented understanding of a book’s overall argument or narrative, as readers focus only on sections of immediate relevance to them.
  • Given the fast-paced nature of politics in the capital, many politicians resort to a Washington Read of policy reports and books, scanning for key points and relevant information rather than reading the entire text.