Slow Reading

I’ve been reading a lot lately, and unsurprisingly for someone in my field I can read extremely quickly. I’ve read 300+ page novels in a single sitting, no longer than I would spend at a movie. Granted, these aren’t Pincher or anything, but still. But I struggle with the desire to read devouringly, against the self-imposed requirement to read slowly. This varies of course from work to work, and from genre to genre. But I’ve been reading a lot of poetry, and poetics, lately and that requires of me a kind of intentional reading that I find significantly more demanding, more rewarding, and slower.

So I’m experimenting with ways to satisfy both the urge (and somewhat the expectation) to be incredibly broadly read and the necessity of engaging fully with the works I’m reading. My mode has been to read through books quickly, unless something really grabs my interest, and then to slow down. The latest spate of blog entries are also part of this: keeping a kind of reading journal (one of my new categories). These are less reviews and more reflections on the works I’ve been reading them. Impressions, questions, trains of thought, things I liked an didn’t, problems I’m having, etc. Pretty informal, overall, but a way to try to grab hold of the sheer quantity of books that I’m reading.

So far, so good. Except now I’m getting to complex classics that I really “ought” to have read ages ago. Like Tender Buttons which I just turned to today. Already, I’m finding myself stopping, re-reading, and I’m only on the second page. I suspect that this is one of those books that I’ll probably never feel like I’ve read fully, and so I’m torn. Do I read through it once, just to get it all in there, knowing I’ll come back to it again and again; or do I force myself to slow down in the first read and really try to engage and absorb and dissect it.

One comment

  1. Hi Erica, I suggest you read it quickly at first, because the truth is that complicated and multilayered books do not open themselves up to us on the first read, no matter how slow. So I say, get it in there, it will slowly trickle down through your gray matter like water through soil and on the second reading, which will be slower because you’re reading for a different reason, things will begin to reveal themselves to you.

    That’s my two cents on this particular question. Ciao!


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