(I just checked my scheduled posts, and discovered that this Sunday Salon is my three hundredth post on The Literary Omnivore! Goodness.)
In Mark Bauerlein’s alarmist The Dumbest Generation, he mentions in passing that the kids these days just won’t devote the ten hours it takes to read a three hundred book. My first reaction when reading that was, “It takes you ten hours to read a three hundred page book?” Readers of my generation cheerfully volunteer just how long it took for them to read Harry Potter and the Death Hallows–usually well into the morning of the 22nd. I myself took eight hours. Part of the reason some kids don’t fall in love with reading is the simple fact that it doesn’t come as easily to them as other children. Thus, devoted readers tend to read books faster than the average Jane.
But is reading speed actually important when it comes to reading?
Obviously, you can read something too fast–ask me if I remember Silas Marner. You miss out on the complexity of language and even some plot points. But is it really possible to read something too slowly? Reading isn’t a competition, but I think people who read slowly are sometimes looked askance at, as if taking so long means they’re not getting it. But reading a book slowly has its joys, and some books need to be read slowly in order for the reader to appreciate the language and the depth an author has put into their work. (And, let’s face it, nobody is breezing through The Lord of the Rings or anything Dorothy Dunnett ever wrote. If they say they are, they are liars.)
But I have to admit, I do find it a bit frustrating when I realize I need to slow down, usually after I move on to a denser book after a frothy one. I can get through a Jodi Picoult or a Gossip Girl novel (Shame? Please, I’m a geek) in about a day, but other books usually take at least two to three days when I have good reading time. Then again, it took me two weeks to get through King Hereafter, which had never happened to me before and, naturally, frustrated me. But I think I sometimes place too much important on making good time through a book; reading is about experiencing the novel, not just conquering it.
Speaking of which, I spent most of last week reading Gordon Dahlquist’s The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, which was a book that rewarded patience–I almost feel dizzy now that I’m onto Brandon Sanderson’s The Final Empire. Sanderson himself is going to be at Dragon*Con, and I thought I’d check it out on the off chance I adore it and want him to sign something, like my ARC of The Way of Kings. (I’m so excited for Dragon*Con. I even made a last minute Captain Kirk costume, I’m that excited.)
This week, Anastasia at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog is giving away a copy of Madeleine Wickham’s A Desirable Residence until Saturday. (Wickham might be better known as Sophie Kinsella to some of you.) Angela at Sci-Fi Chick is currently giving away three books; George Mann’s The Osiris Ritual, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Undead, and A Wild Light. Over at Tor/Forge’s Blog, they’re giving away an ARC of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings; it ends tomorrow! SQT at Fantasy and Sci-Fi Lovin’ is giving away both Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey and M. J. Rose’s The Hypnotist. As always, these are just the giveaways I’ve run across this week.
What’s your reading speed, and do you think reading speed has any correlation with getting the most out of a book?