To Speed Up Or To Slow Down?

Time is ticking

 Perhaps it’s through the discovery of other bloggers and their impressive ability to read at what seems to me a superhuman speed which has caused me to become so self-conscious? Either way I have recently become increasingly concerned with how much I’m reading and at what speed rather than what I am reading and if I’m enjoying it. Strange isn’t it? Surely reading should be carefree and relaxing? Does it really matter about much you read?

 These are the thoughts that I have being musing with since beginning my blog and so eventually I decided to give speed reading a chance. I’ll confess to high hopes because the idea of reading two books a week from my usual snail pace of one was very tempting.

 Initially I really struggled with ‘speed reading’, in life I’m known for analyzing situations and this seems to follow through when reading. Poetic prose and deep metaphors get my full attention and I can never move from one sentence to another without fully understanding the last. I suspected that it was this acute attention to detail that slowed me down so much and so I brought the subject up with my more swift friends.

The idea that I spent so much time trying to understand the full meaning of each sentence baffled my friends, ‘why waste so much time?’. But I’d always thought skipping through idea’s and sections that I didn’t comprehend was cheating?

 Forcing myself to give this ago I adopted the rule that if I read something that didn’t quite click for me the first time, I would re read it once, maybe twice and then move on regardless. My worry was that this would spoil my connection with the book and sully how strongly I bonded with the writer. Yet it in reality I learned that so long as I didn’t do it with every sentence I still managed to understand and appreciate the book. In fact a certain pressure was lifted and I enjoyed the book more from my own perspective instead of trying to figure out every little meaning of the writers.

Skipping the incomprehensible has definitely sped up my reading but only marginally, so I forced myself to plow through at an even faster rate and it was then that I started to notice a detachment to the books I was reading. When putting my book down for the night my first thought wasn’t ‘wow that was incredible’. No personal observations of the story sprung to mind. Instead it was ‘Ok I read 50 pages there, must read another 100 tomorrow and then 100 the day after and eureka that’s a book in 3days!!’. Brilliant but where is the emotional connection?

Currently I’m half way through both The Shadow of the Wind and The Secret Life of Bee’s and after a harried and rushed start I’m giving up on speed reading in favor of taking my time. It’s giving me reader’s indigestion. Books shouldn’t be rushed or forced in my opinion, they should be devoured as slowly as you like, taking your time to digest and absorb each delectable page.

 Off course that’s just me and a small part still envies those that can speed read but I’m giving up on that in order to try and get back to just enjoying books for what they are.

 So what about everyone else? Are you a fast reader, blasting through page after page at a super sonic pace? Or are you a slow reader who likes to take their time? Do you even care or does it just not factor into your mind? I’d love to hear how everyone else feels about it and whether or not you’ve changed your reading habits.

…Now back to those wonderful books.


7 thoughts on “To Speed Up Or To Slow Down?

  1. I know exactly what you mean and I actually feel guilty about how much i read. I do read quite fast and when it is an easy read book, I can plough through them at quite a rate but I always enjoy the book. I do know reading on my kindle I seem, to get through books quicker.

    If it is not an easy read or it is just requires a bit of concentration,with plots and characters then I see, to subconsciously slow down.

    Skipping parts out is not something I do unless I am really struggling with the book and then I might jump a few sections to see if it picks up and is worth me making the effort. I have found though it normally is not.

    My motto, is enjoy the books however long it takes to read them and just love doing it along the way!

    • I like your motto Jo and agree above all else it’s best just to enjoy the books no matter how long they take!! I’m really getting back into reading since adopting this philosophy.

  2. Hmmm, for me this varies from book to book. If the writer captures my interest from the first chapter through the writing style and detail then I read the book slowly. If the book is overly simplistic I read it fast. I am guilty of virtually skim reading some books – i.e. the ones which in my opinion were badly written. It would be unkind for me to give you examples but I could list quite a few!

    One of the reasons I rush books occasionally is that I have so many fantastic books on my TBR list. At the moment I’m slowly reading The Shadow of the Wind but I could list several that I’m dying to read. The trouble is this list just keeps getting longer and longer. I’m tempted to read TSOTW quickly so I can get to them but good books deserve to be savoured and this is one I intend to savour.

    • I know exactly what you mean, when a book is good it’s nice to really take your time and savour the prose and imagery, it’s tempting to speed up just to plough through your TBR list but sometimes you miss so much.

      That said I’m also like you in the sense that if a book is overly simplistic I read it extra quick. I think you sometimes need to have books like that.

  3. I read slower line by line the more I enjoy a book, but then I’ll dedicate more time to reading if that’s the case. I read fast (by fast I mean skip whole chunks when I know what the author is trying to do) if I don’t enjoy a book. When Reading Salem’s lot I probably skipped about 50 pages in total!! only because his character descriptions took too long and were only there so we’d be sad to see them killed later. So overall although I’m skipping bits I don’t dedicate as much time to reading and I will finish a good book before I unwillingly finish a bad one. I take each book as I find it but you have to remember its fun and relaxing so you shouldn’t feel bad whichever speed you read at.

    • Your right reading should be fun, simple as that.

      I’ve started skipping paragraphs that I don’t understand and it does help but if I do it too much I feel like I’m cheating. Do you know what I mean or do you not feel like that?

  4. Since when did my Catholic Guilt turn into “Reading Guilt”as I’ve been suffering from the same distress, of late? I think it’s a hangover from my uni years when we were forced to devour umpteen texts a week & not always with enjoyment! I’m not only struggling with a volume complex & my ever-increasing “too-read” pile but find I skim & miss out whole pages. However, if you have a good sense of the book then sometimes nothing is lossed from your overall enjoyment.

    It’s good to hear others feel the same!

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