You know, it’s time I faced a sad fact…
I am a slow reader.
Not so slow that I was ever placed in special classes when I was a kid. In fact, I always tested so high in reading comprehension that my teachers usually volunteered me for extra reading assignments or had me helping my fellow students.
But the last thing I could ever be called is a speed reader. Worse yet, I’ve gotten into the bad habit of reading three or four books at the same time, which means I don’t finish anything fast.
Take right now. I’m close to finishing Michael Offut’s gripping Slipstream, but much as it’s grabbed me and pulled me in, I had to finish Wolf Hall first ’cause I promised my copy to a co-worker who was nagging me. (BTW, Wolf Hall is so long it make The Compass Master look pithy.) Then when I was feeling blue I knew it was time to start another cheer-me-up kinda spiritual self-help books, which may sound silly to you but hey, the right ones can work for me and books don’t have nasty side effects like medication does. Throw in a couple books I’d already started, and I’m even more distracted. One is a historical work called Selling God: American Religion in the Marketplace of Culture; I’m concentrating on the nineteenth century facts for my next manuscript, which means lots of note-taking.
Anyway, you get the picture. And bear in mind that this doesn’t even cover the pile of Vanity Fairs on my dining room table.
Then there’s the fact that when I really like what I’m reading I… slow… down. I will re-read good sentences. Memorize great metaphors. Put little yellow stickies on masterful paragraphs. Sure, once in a while I’ll read a fun “fast” book, like Charlaine Harris’s True Blood series. But even then there was the scene in which Sookie was shot and was slipping into shock. It was very well written so I stopped and re-read the entire scene again.
Michael, I’ve re-read a few of your scenes.
As you can imagine, this is why I’m amazed when I go into other people’s blogs and they talk about all the books they’ve read lately and all the writers they want to recommend. And they’re not showing off. This is normal for them.
Gad, I feel like such a back-asswards slacker. At least I’ve got good comprehension.
So how quickly (or slowly) do you read books? BTW, fast and very smart readers include Teddy Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. And Roosevelt once read all of Anna Karenina over a few days while capturing and escorting two cattle-thieves to justice.
I am so not in his league.