I read too quickly and it stems from the time when I learnt to speed read, scanning the page, picking out the key words, not reading all the letters in each word and so on. This has its drawbacks – I don’t actually read headlines in newspapers properly, nor chapter headings. I’ve realised though that I am never going to be able to read all the books I’d like to no matter how quickly I read.
A few years ago I came across this book – In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore and as I was thinking about slowing down my reading speed I dug it out again. This is not just about reading slowly as it covers many aspects of life and it’s really about living better by striking a balance between fast and slow. I’ve come across this quote in other places:
“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” (Gandhi)
There are some things that just cannot be hurried – they just take time. Hand knitting is an example, although some people can knit at great speed, and because the rhythmic, repetitive movement of the needles is so therapuetic knitting can actually lower the heart rate and blood pressure. I find doing a jigsaw puzzle can have the same effect, provided it is not too difficult. It’s an absorbing pastime that requires concentration and has a calming effect.
Reading slowly is not an easy thing for me to do, especially when I’m engrossed in the story and am impatient to find out what happens next, but sometimes this means that I miss a lot of the details and cannot remember much of the book when I’ve finished it. This is why I like to re-read a book that I’ve enjoyed and often find so much more in it than on the first reading.
I’ve also found that writing about the books means that I’ve slowed down. I never used to take notes when reading, unless I’d been studying for an exam, so this was a new thing for me when I started to write my blog. And going over it again in my mind thinking about its themes also helps. But this book suggests that reading is more of a pleasure if you take your time and read in small sips – much in the same way that Dicken’s novels were first published in monthly installments spread out over a year. So maybe my pitifully slow progress in reading Les Miserables is the best way to read it, or maybe not as I keep stopping and reading other books in between.
There is so much more in In Praise of Slow than slowing down reading and as the pace of life seems to ever increasing it pays I think to stop living my life by the clock and trying to fit in as many things as possible. I shall start with reading slowly.