The Crow's Dream

Philosophy, geekery, and the meaning if life, and what I read this week…

Conffesions of a Slow Reader, or How to Make the Most of What you Read

with 2 comments

My wife is a librarian. She can read an average novel in two hous. I think I married a super hero. I, on the other hand, am not a fast reader. I’m not a slow one either, I’m just not naturally fast. For many years I have tried to correct this flaw, thinking that if I could get through more books, my life would somehow improve.

I’ve used methods like schematic reading and skeeming, and most of them have worked when I need to get through something quickly, and when that something is meant to simply increase my knowledge, rather than my appreciation of life, or my ability to pass the time doing something I like. I’ve been jealous of my wife’s superpowers for a long time, but recently, I have come to terms with my status as a mere mortal who is only capable of reading a couple of books a month.

I have learned that there are a few questions that I need to ask myself before I read something, and those questions have made my literary experiences allthemore enjoyable. Here they are:

Do I want to read this, or do I have to read this?

You’d be surprised at how many times I find myself rejecting a book because I neither need to read it, nor particularly feel like enjoying it. I think it’s important that non powered readers learn to choose what they want to read. There is nothing wrong with reading a few pages, and then giving up on something because it is just not good enough for us at the time. I don’t care how literary a work it may be. We may not be ready for it right then.

If you have to read a book, try to learn a speed reading method. Although most of them tend to ruin the contents of the book, but when you are just trying to gather information, and there is no need to worry about a plotline in a manual, or recipe, you can read through, not thorough.

How long do I want to spend with this book?

I am not talking about how many days do you want to devote to the book here, because if you are an average reader, the likellyhood is that you’ll end up devoting a week, if not more, so don’t sweat it. What I mean is daily. Do you think you’ll try to read for fifteen minutes? An hour? Make sure that you read from it often. If the book is good, every page should be a pleasure. It’s all about the journey. Who cares about the destination? Chances are, you’ll actually miss the characters once the book is done. So make time for them. I usually read during my morning exercise, my breaks, and before going to bed.

Is there a good audio version?

Audiobooks are not cheating. No one is grading you. You are only reading because you want to, remember?

I love audiobooks because I can listen to them when I am doing something else, like cleaning the house. Plus, since I try to only read one book at a time. Audiobooks provide me with a second choice at times when reading text would be impossible. Also, some times I read some sections of a book, and listen to others. That way, I can enjoy it throughout most of my day. Wether I’m cleaning or sun bathing, the book is always with me. That’s how I intend on reading War and Peace, and Les Miserables.

Do I have other stuff to read?

I love to read, and that is partially why I am happy to take my time with my books, but Les Miserables is a lot to get through, and while I love reading long classics, I do get tired of reading the same book all the time, so I supplement my literary diet with snacks. I always have access to short story anthologies, articles, graphic novels, and other stuff I can finish in a couple of hours. That way I can renew my interest in the longer works, and I can satisfy sudden interests without abandoning my current literary journey. As I said before, I try to read one book at a time, though I allow myself the benefit of an audiobook, thus maximizing my reading to two books, but I don’t think I’d have the dicipline to stick to the very long ones if I didn’t have these extras to keep me going.

While speed reading can be good for non fiction and learning, I’ve learned to take my time with fiction. I get a lot more out of my experiences with books when I just enjoy them thoroughly from beginning to end. It’s about the journey, not the destination, and I am glad to be sharing the journey of my life with a superhero.


Written by Hector

July 12, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Posted in How To

Tagged with , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. I’ve tried many times to be a speed reader too. I always just end up stressed out and missing a lot. If a book is good enough, it goes quickly enough.


    July 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    • I’m finding that simply committing to, at least trying, to spend time with the book, every day, helps a lot.


      July 23, 2010 at 5:14 pm

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