Writing about Slowing Down My Reading

Writing on Reading

I have always been a mad achiever, and if something can be done fast, I’m usually looking for a way to do it twice as fast.

Reading books (for work or pleasure) is not an exception. Back in my Uni days I picked up a (disgusting) habit: speed-reading and skimming: an unholy mix of both. While this meant I could finish reading Ulysses, War and Peace and suchlike tomes, it also made me a feeble reader in many ways.

I am currently reading Kazuo Ishiguro and Klauss Mann, along with Terry Goodkind (don’t laugh, I’m a wild mixer when it comes to reading), and I find that I have to often read a page twice in order to grasp the beauty of what is going on in the pages. That is because I read like a maniac the first time, egged on by the mad elf that lives in the crook of my neck.

It keeps on nudging me with its pointy nose and ears, “Hurry up, there is not a moment to lose!” as if I was in some jaw-clenching action-packed adventure, and not curled up on my sofa or bed, reading.

Today I was reading Francine Prose “Reading Like a Writer”, and she devotes an entire chapter to Sentences. She says:

The well-made sentence transcends time and genre. A beautiful sentence is a beautiful sentence, regardless of when it was written, or whether it appears in a play or a magazine article.

After reading halfway through her chapters, I became aware of what I end up doing quite a bit of the time I’m reading: I’m skimming. Which means I’m not appreciating each sentence.

Some writers do stop me in my tracks when I read, and I read them slowly: Atwood is one, Morrison is another, amongst the authors I have recently read.

From now on, I’m going to remember time and again as I’m reading that life may be too short to read all the books I want to read, just like it is too short for all the things I want to eat, but that does not mean I should chomp on filet-mignon as if it were a burger.

Some books are meant to savoured, and from now on, I’m determined to do just that.

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2 comments

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  1. Damyanti

    Arti,

    I think the Ishiguro is "When we were orphans". But since I'm travelling right now,(and I have borrowed the book from a friend, don't want to lose/damage it,) I've paused on that book, and will finish it when I return.

  2. Arti

    I'm a very slow reader, so can't just skim and speed read. Reading Like a Writer has been a current read of mine for, oh… maybe half a year! It's very in-depth, so just means I have to read and reread pages. Of course, I have other diversions, as I'm also reading Paul Auster and Anne Tyler. But you mentioned Ishiguro, just wonder which book are you reading of his? As for eclectic book choices, I'm all for it… My "Books" page is self-evident.