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Slow Reader

I am a slow reader.  Sometimes I’m a slow reader on purpose, like when I really love a book and want to make it last as long as possible.  I did that with the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman.  I only allowed myself 10 pages a day (or sometimes a little more if I was having a particularly bad day).

Other times it takes me forever because I’m distracted.  I start reading and then remember something I want to jot on my to-do list.  And then I remember something I want to Google, which leads me to three other things I’ve been meaning to look up.  So on and so on.

But really, when I look at how many books other people read vs. how many books I read, I consider myself a slow reader.  I don’t do book challenges because I assume that I will fail the book challenge.  I have only completed 10 books since January 1st, which means that I’m on target for finishing 20 new books this year.  (I’m not counting re-reading books.)  A lot of those book challenges aim for 52 books or a 100 books; goals that are completely out of my normal reading range.

And yet, I can’t argue with this post by Lifehacker that Modern Mrs. Darcy posted on her site.  If you set aside five hours, you can finish a book in a single day.  Make it ten hours to account for distractions, and you can still finish a book in a single day.  All it takes is thinking “how much solitude you’ll need, then double it.”  Like setting the phone in another room.  Turning off the computer.  Letting everyone know that you intend to spend the day reading, and then do it.

Oh, and practice interval reading:

Set a timer and read for 20 minutes, then do something active to keep yourself energized for 5-10 minutes. Think of it as the pomodoro method for reading.

I can do that.  I mean, this article is about reading a book for a class vs. reading a book for pleasure, but it’s still good practice to set the timer and keep the time sacred.  Use the 5 – 10 minutes for the Google search (just jot down the thought on a post-it note and get back to the book) vs. interrupting the book to address things during book reading time.

I’m clearly sensitive about my reading speed or I wouldn’t have written a whole post about it, but it also seems like something I could fix (a bit) if I dedicated some energy toward it.

Are you a slow reader, medium reader, or fast reader?

17 comments

1 a { 07.11.17 at 8:22 am }

I used to think I was a fast reader until the internet (where I could compare myself to others). Then I discovered I’m probably a medium reader. I read 50+ books a year, but only if I’m in the reading mood. But it’s not really fair to judge based on books alone. I’m reading blog posts and news articles and falling down Wikipedia wormholes. Sometimes books are just not what I need for a particular moment.

2 nicoleandmaggie { 07.11.17 at 8:45 am }

If what you care about is numbers, maybe you just need to be reading worse quality stuff. I can polish off multiple cheesy yet entertaining romance novels/novellas in a day, but it can take much longer to read something that has more substance.

3 Ana { 07.11.17 at 9:26 am }

I guess I would say medium. I read on average a book a week, so about 50 books a year these days (I only started tracking a few years ago).

4 Working mom of 2 { 07.11.17 at 9:47 am }

Who has five hours a day to read????

I don’t consider that slow; that’s being busy. I don’t concern myself with number of books. I do go thru a lot less since having kids. Simply less time, and I fall asleep easier bc I’m more tired. But in terms of actual speed, I read fast.

5 jjiraffe { 07.11.17 at 10:23 am }

It depends what I’m reading. If it’s “War and Peace” – slow going. If it’s a Harry Potter book or something similar, I tear through it because I want to know what happens.

6 Raven { 07.11.17 at 10:26 am }

I am a fast reader. I read quickly, and I read a lot – which can sometimes mean I read 2+ books a week but it all depends on my life, how busy it is, and whether it’s a book I really enjoy. Like you, I love to savour a good book but I can’t seem to do it – instead I rush to devour it in 3 hours. I even sometimes read with my hand on the page so I don’t skip ahead during a really good part (I know, childish but I can’t help myself!).

I think it doesn’t matter your reading speed, just that you read at all! 🙂

7 Karen { 07.11.17 at 10:34 am }

I used to read fast – absolutely devoured my books; in high school I spent a day – I think we timed it at 8 hours, not counting my breaks – and finished Stephen King’s It.

I wish I read more slowly; it’s why I stopped buying books, because I’d spend $15-20 on something that, depending on the complexity of the subject, lasted only marginally longer than a movie. But also, especially with the books I love, I hate finishing them so quickly. I sometimes feel like I’m doing them a disservice, that I don’t savor them as much as I should.

8 Lindz { 07.11.17 at 11:05 am }

I read pretty fast, but the throughput depends on my actual life situation. So, the busier my life, the less I read. But I’ve also found that I need to read for fun (as opposed to for work or for research) or I’m not as happy. I also have stopped buying physical books because they take up a lot of space and I finish them too quickly. However, I have the Nook app and a Kindle and will happily read the interesting fee books on each, going through 2-3 a week in a down time.

9 Sharon { 07.11.17 at 2:15 pm }

I’m a fast reader, always have been. Which is a good thing, considering that about the only time I have available for reading is on my lunch hour (30 minutes, actually, most days), after my sons go to bed (for no more than an hour) and occasional short pockets of time on weekends. If I were a slow reader, I probably would never finish a book.

I can’t imagine having a 5-hour block of time to set aside to read! Maybe pre-children, but not now.

10 xykademiqz { 07.11.17 at 2:22 pm }

When I like a book, I finish it really quickly; otherwise, never. I am a notorious book abandoner — if I don’t love it within no more than ~50 pages, it’s dead to me. This brings a fair bit of dread into my book choice, because, in my experience, most books, even those that come highly recommended and critically acclaimed, are just not very satisfying at all.

11 Turia { 07.11.17 at 7:07 pm }

I am a fast reader and regularly used to read five or more books a week (this was before children). If it is a book I love, I devour it. I read while eating, read while walking (dangerous and not recommended ) and stay up WAY too late to finish it.

I’ve mostly stopped buying books now (lack of space being the major limiting factor) but haven’t switched to ebooks. I love the physical feel of a book. I make very good use of our excellent public library system.

I read a lot less now with P being little and with being so tired but I still read. Reading for fun (as opposed to all the reading I do for work) is critical to my mental health and I will always make time for it. I can’t read certain kinds of books right now because I don’t have the undivided time and space to devote to them but I read lighter things and keep piling up the inactive hold list on my library account for when I have the energy for them.

12 Mali { 07.11.17 at 7:39 pm }

I think there’s a difference between being a fast/medium/slow reader, and reading a lot/a middling amount/a little. I’m a fast reader who spends too much time reading on the internet/travel planning, and who now is about 10 books behind on my reading challenge for this year! I like the idea of setting a timer though. When I was in more of a routine, I’d go for a coffee three times a week, and read for 30 or 45 minutes. That was a short burst of intensive and very enjoyable reading. I need to get back in the habit!

13 Noemi { 07.11.17 at 8:10 pm }

I am also a slow reader. I didn’t actually think of myself as one (at least not as an adult) until I saw at one point that Kindle had categorized my reading as slow (I forget the exact terminology they used, but it definitely implied (if not outright stated) that I was a slow reader). I would say it’s because I read a lot of Spanish books, and that takes me longer, but I probable read just as many English books, so I guess I’m just a slow reader. I guess I also assumed that they meant how long it actually takes me to cover the text when I’m actually reading (not how many days it takes me to finish the book), because it can track that via the app. And I can take AGES to actually finish a book these days, so I think I’d get an even lower “rating” if that were what they were tracking.

I have always known I was a slower reader than other people (especially my husband, who can read an article (and have a command the material) in about half the time it takes me to read and understand it), but I hadn’t considered myself a slow reader since I was a kid. It wounded my pride a little at first, but then I realized I didn’t really care, since I can get through the articles, blog posts and books I want to read in my life without feeling like my reading speed is hindering me, so really, who cares?

14 Catie { 07.11.17 at 10:04 pm }

I consider myself to be a fast reader (about a book a week) but I hate reading challenges because I read for pleasure. I don’t want to be timed, it’s not a competition. Reading is how I enjoy spending my free time I don’t want to be thinking “OMG I’m so far behind!!” while trying to relax.

I also love to listen to audiobooks (which I count as reading because it activates the same parts of the brain: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/08/listening-to-a-book-instead-of-reading-isnt-cheating.html) while I’m at work and on my commute.

15 torthuil { 07.12.17 at 12:01 am }

Very fast reader. But while I remember the main themes, I forget details. So anything I really care about, I have to read multiple times, especially if I want to be able to say anything intelligent about it.

16 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.12.17 at 9:59 am }

I read engrossing books faster than I read other books. It’s the distractibility that makes me a slow reader sometimes.

Have you seen the Kindle app’s Word Runner? I’ve been thinking of experimenting with it.

17 loribeth { 07.12.17 at 10:00 pm }

I CAN be a fast reader, but it seems like there are too many distractions these days (cough cough Internet…). I picked up Sebastian Junger’s “Tribe” last week — it’s only about 130 well spaced pages, and I’m still only about 2/3 of the way through; haven’t read a sentence since Saturday. But when I do find a really good book & have some uninterrupted time (and can stay away from the computer…!) I can still whiz through an average length volume in a day or two. I’ve had a Goodreads Challenge goal of 24 books in one year for the past several years (which seemed reasonable — although I used to read MANY more books, pre-Internet…), and I’ve always met or slightly exceeded it — although I am currently behind by three books. I have a vacation coming up, though, and I always get at least 2-3 books read then. 🙂

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