Back in high school, I had this friend who prided himself on being a fast reader. He could literally polish off three books a week without a problem. This friend was actually quite formative in my passion for reading horror and science fiction. Through my friend, I became a fan of writers like Brian Lumley and Robert R. McGammon along with becoming a lifetime devotee to the master storyteller Stephen King. Over years of friendship, this friend loaned me several of his favorites. I remember a particular occasion when he had asked for my thoughts on a novel he had loaned me from the previous week. Since I was only midway through this particular book, I replied that I was still working on it. He then went on to question and criticize me for being too slow. The subject of my reading speed quickly became a sore point between us. I had earned that most dreaded of labels. I was a “slow reader.” Feelings of embarrassment filled my heart as I tried to keep up with his inhuman reading speed. Often, I would stay up way past my bedtime in order to finish the latest book knowing I would be asked about it the next day.
Fast forward several years until a night last week. I was laying in bed reading when my wife commented that I had been reading this same book for awhile. As I started to flashback to my awkward teenage years, my wife was confused as to why I felt insulted. She told me that she admires me for being a careful reader because it meant that I absorbed the details in what I was reading. My beautiful and highly intelligent wife made an excellent point, which led me to reconsider what it means to be a slower reader. I decided to write about this epiphany as a message to all of those other “careful readers” out there in the world. Don’t let those that read faster make you feel inferior. Instead, remember my wife’s wisdom that careful reading leads to a stronger appreciation for all the little details that a great book possesses.
My wife and I just celebrated our third anniversary. Since leather is the traditional gift for the third year, I bought her this leather-bound edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. My wife is like a modern version of Alice, and I’m very much of the Mad Hatter type. She completes me in so many ways, and I wouldn’t trade her for all the books in the universe.
So remember fellow readers, don’t feel bad that you read a little slower than others. Take pride in the gift that you read to take in the experience.
Later this week, I will have another review up! In the meantime, I leave with a quote from Thomas Newkirk from his book The Art of Slow Reading: Six Time-Honored Practices for Engagement:
“We can learn to pay attention, concentrate, devote ourselves to authors. We can slow down so we can hear the voice of texts, feel the movement of sentences, experience the pleasure of words–and own passages that speak to us.”