Thursday, December 17, 2009

Booking Through Thursday- or, Do You Book Through Your Books?



Suggested by Barbara H:
What do you think of speed-reading? Is it a good way to get through a lot of books, or does the speed-reader miss depth and nuance? Do you speed-read? Is some material better suited to speed-reading than others?

I know there are people who read 20 books a week and swear to God that they have perfect comprehension and appreciation for the literary arts, but I don't believe them. I think speed readers miss a lot, never mind that I don't think that reading should be a race, or an endurance test, or a quantity-over-quality, don't-stop-till-you-drop marathon. Reading should be a pleasure, and should be taken at the pace of enjoyment. I read because I enjoy good writing; speed reading misses the point. I read, on average, one book per week- or rather, I finish one book per week and usually take 1-2 weeks to read an average-length book. Wolf Hall took over a month, being 400+ pages and a challenging literary read; on the other hand, I blazed through Secret Son in three days because it was short and light. Some things just go faster than others but reading fast as a habit defeats the purpose of reading.

26 comments:

eveningreader said...

I agree completely! I don't really believe that people who read 20 (or even 5) books a week are really reading. They are consuming. I feel bad for authors, who work so very hard at getting it right on the page.

Alayne said...

I agree with you 100%.
Alayne
The Crowded Leaf.

pussreboots said...

Read regularly and your speed will increase. Work at it and it will increase even more. If I had the time I could read 20 books a week but frankly I don't want to read that many. My post is here.

Bluestocking said...

Oh you can. I read fast- I don't speed read. Yes, I do have good comprehension. Actual speed reading is skimming.

http://web.me.com/bluestocking_bb/The_Bluestocking_Guide/Book_Reviews/Entries/2009/12/17_Speed.html

Petunia said...

Those that read 20 books a week are usually reading childrens' books and other fast reading. I can whip out a romance novel in no time at all but why would I want to. I'd rather spend two weeks on something spectacular.

I'm an exceedingly slow reader but I average about a book a week.

Aarti said...

What an interesting topic! I actually wrote my next Sunday Salon post on this very thing. I don't really care how quickly other people read- it's MY reading speed that interests me. I don't think I read very quickly, but I know that sometimes if a scene doesn't interest me (i.e., battle/fight scenes), I skim it. What worries me more is if I just feel the need to rush through a book. More on that on Sunday!

Literary Feline said...

You took the words right out of my mouth as the expression goes, Marie. I couldn't have said it better.

jewwishes said...

I don't speed read. I like to a given book at my own pace. There are times I will read straight through a book because I am interested in the interested in the outcome, but it is not speed reading. I will just stick with the book until I finish it.

I comprehend and am cognizant of the content of every book I read. I read because I want to, not because I have to. There is no time schedule.

Nise' said...

I am a fast reader as well, always have been and am one of those that have read 5 books in a week and know what I am reading. That is not my norm though!!

I'm with Brook, I equate speed reading with skimming.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I read really fast if its, say, a teen book, but it takes me much longer to go through a more difficult book. I think the pressure to come up with blog posts may have some bloggers reading more quickly than they used to; I probably do that as well.

JoAnn said...

Amen!

Lesley said...

While I do admit to sometimes being envious of those who can read so much, I am definitely the 'one book at a time, however long it takes me' type reader. Sometimes I can blaze through a book in a day (or two or three) and sometimes it takes a month (or longer!).

jlshall said...

Exactly. I feel the same way about it. And I'm really glad to know I'm not the only one who can take more than a month to finish a book!

sanctimommy said...

While I agree with you on principle, I think that there's a time and a place for skimming. A lot of the parenting books that I read aren't really worth a close read, to tell you the truth. They have a germ of an excellent idea, but in order to get it to book length they add chapter after chapter of filler: anecdotes that don't ring true or repeating their main point over and over. I don't feel the least bit guilty skimming this stuff. I think it's not just parenting books, but there are a lot of non-fiction books out there that probably should have been about 150 pages shorter.

But I agree that a good fiction book, and most non-fiction books, should be savored. As I said I'm a very quick reader, but I often find that I have to take long breaks while reading a book in order to really appreciate it. Let it sink in. I'm reading a book like that now. It's really good, but I think if I just read it straight through I'd miss a lot of the nuance, while if I read a few chapters and then don't go back to it for a few days I have some time to mull it over and really get into the story.

Bryan R. Terry said...

I have to agree that I don't really believe those who read 20+ books a week.

My BTT is HERE

Jessica said...

I agree, I don't think speed reading (ie, skimming) is really reading. And honestly, some books are light fluff and others just take more time. I had to laugh recently, someone posted on some discussion board that he'd read Remembrance of Things Past and two other books the prior week ... um, really? Proust? one week?

And if he really did, did he get anything from the experience, other than bragging rights?

JMO. Great post, I think about this kind of stuff all the time. Love the comments above too!

Alexia561 said...

I'm not a "speed reader", but if I'm in the grip of a great book, I sometimes find myself racing through it because I'm so excited to find out what happens next! And if I sit down and totally neglect my real life, I can read a book a day. It's exhausting though, and not very practical.

Do I believe that people can read 20 books a month? Yes. But can they remember what they read and did they enjoy the book? Probably not.

I'd rather read one book a month and fully enjoy it than rush through a book every other day. Though once I win that lottery... *L*

Marie said...

Proust in a week- that's a good one! That guy could be a standup comic!

Kathleen said...

I couldn't agree more!

joemmama said...

I am afraid I am a savorer...I devour a book and roll it around in my senses for a while. I would miss too much if I read any faster. I spent the afternoon in Paris in the 20's and would not have missed any of it for anything!

bookmagic said...

I think speed readers must miss out on a lot. I'm not sure I believe people that say they read a book a day. I either read fast when it is a fast plot, or I am skimming to get the book over with. I like to savor a good book. Drood took me a few weeks to get though but I loved it

Blodeuedd said...

Really, some read 20! Yikes, I read really fast but I get around 3 even if I am doing absolutely nothing that week. Perhaps I could manage 7 but no more (if I stayed in bed all week)

gautami tripathy said...

I too think people who claim to read 20+ books a week are comprehending anything at all.

Booking through speeding

caite said...

I am not the faster reader in the world...and that is just fine with me. As you said, reading should be for pleasure and i think it should be relaxing.
I am happy to just mosey through my books, taking my own sweet time,

Zibilee said...

I agree with your assessment of speed reading. I would love to be able to read faster, mainly so I could enjoy more of the books that are on my shelves, but I think I would ultimately miss a lot if I decided to speed up the process of reading. I think it's fine to finish one book a week, that's pretty much my speed as well. Very interesting topic.

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I used to think I read pretty fast until I got into blogging. I usually average probably about 2 books a week and am happy with that. If I read much faster I either neglect other things in my life, or find myself missing big chunks of the story.