Why I Don’t Want to Learn to Read Faster, Thanks

Fuck those articles, man. They’re everywhere. You know the ones I mean, right? How to 10X Your Reading Speed and Never Have to Savour a Book Again! I suspect these are written with information gatherers in mind rather than people who read for joy. But still, what the hell?

And then there are those ‘reading’ apps that will allow you to gather all the salient points from a book without having to actually read it. (‘Blinkist lets you read the key lessons from 2200+ nonfiction books in 15 min or fewer.’ – is it just me, or is this massively disrespectful to authors? All those words are there for a reason, you know.)

And there are the people who suggest listening to audiobooks at 1.5x or even 2x normal speed so you can get through them faster, never mind the fact that it’ll sound like a chipmunk’s narrating.

Why is reading slowly treated as some defect that needs to be corrected? WHY? I realise pretty much every avid book reader wishes they could get through more books, myself included. But do you really want to do it at the expense of your reading experience?

I have another suggestion: if you want to read more books, just read more often. Like, obviously??? Also, perhaps be pickier and more thoughtful about what you read if you’re worried about never getting through your TBR pile.

I know exactly why I am such a slow reader, and I’m okay with it. Because what the fuck is the obsession with being ‘efficient’ all about anyway? Is life really something that needs to be MAXIMISED across all areas? Ugh.

You know the main reason I read slowly? Because I think. A lot. I do this with both fiction and non-fiction. I will think about a story and how it relates to my own life. I will think about what this means for me. I will think about what I like or don’t like about this. I will think about what I can learn from this. I will also think about why the author used that particular bit of punctuation there, and I will marvel over word choices and beautiful turns of phrase. (I mostly find myself in awe of clever metaphors and descriptions that evoke perfect images in my mind.) Since starting to write fiction myself and learning more about it, I will also consider structure and narrative, which are two things I never thought about before.

I don’t read slowly because my eyes can’t scan the words fast enough. I do this when I’m not thinking, but then I will catch myself at the bottom of a page, and then I’m like wait, what? I need to read that bit again. I read every single word on the page. Sometimes, if I think I’ve missed even a single word, or can’t recall what I’ve just read, I will go back and read it again. I want it all. Every word and meaning the author intended.

This makes me a better writer, and also means I get more from the books as I read them.

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