on July 30, 2012 in Misc

You know, it’s time I faced a sad fact…

I am a slow reader.

Not so slow that I was ever placed in special classes when I was a kid.  In fact, I always tested so high in reading comprehension that my teachers usually volunteered me for extra reading assignments or had me helping my fellow students.

But the last thing I could ever be called is a speed reader.  Worse yet, I’ve gotten into the bad habit of reading three or four books at the same time, which means I don’t finish anything fast.

Take right now.  I’m close to finishing Michael Offut’s gripping Slipstream, but much as it’s grabbed me and pulled me in, I had to finish Wolf Hall first ’cause I promised my copy to a co-worker who was nagging me.  (BTW, Wolf Hall is so long it make The Compass Master look pithy.)  Then when I was feeling blue I knew it was time to start another cheer-me-up kinda spiritual self-help books, which may sound silly to you but hey, the right ones can work for me and books don’t have nasty side effects like medication does.  Throw in a couple books I’d already started, and I’m even more distracted.  One is a historical work called Selling God: American Religion in the Marketplace of Culture; I’m concentrating on the nineteenth century facts for my next manuscript, which means lots of note-taking.

Anyway, you get the picture.  And bear in mind that this doesn’t even cover the pile of Vanity Fairs on my dining room table.

Then there’s the fact that when I really like what I’m reading I… slow… down.  I will re-read good sentences.  Memorize great metaphors.  Put little yellow stickies on masterful paragraphs. Sure, once in a while I’ll read a fun “fast” book, like Charlaine Harris’s True Blood series.  But even then there was the scene in which Sookie was shot and was slipping into shock.  It was very well written so I stopped and re-read the entire scene again.

Michael, I’ve re-read a few of your scenes.

As you can imagine, this is why I’m amazed when I go into other people’s blogs and they talk about all the books they’ve read lately and all the writers they want to recommend.  And they’re not showing off.  This is normal for them.

Gad, I feel like such a back-asswards slacker.  At least I’ve got good comprehension.

So how quickly (or slowly) do you read books? BTW, fast and very smart readers include Teddy Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.   And Roosevelt once read all of Anna Karenina over a few days while capturing and escorting two cattle-thieves to justice.

I am so not in his league.

14 Responses to “Slow….Reader…”

  1. I’m always amazed as well! I don’t read fast either although I was always in the advanced classes at school. One or two books a month is the best I can do.

  2. Helena says:

    Alex – Two books a month is good. Besides, you’re busy writing.

  3. LOL Thank you so much for the compliment, Helena. You brought a smile to my face. But your life is way busier than mine. Truthfully, I work 40-hours a week but have very few friends as people “in general” irritate me. I don’t go out too much and stay indoors away from sunlight because I’m not an outdoors person. So I watch a lot of t.v. and read in the air conditioned apartment. I’m not out trying to be “Layla” (to use your term).

    A full life means less time for reading. I have a pretty empty life. I fill it with books.

  4. Helena says:

    Michael – I think you underestimate your capacity for friendship and generosity, which is evident all over your blog. And you’ve certainly got long-distance cyber friends of whom I hope I’m one.

  5. Ciara Knight says:

    I WAS one of the kids in the special reading group. I had a language disorder, and back then, you were marked ‘slow’ Funny, I graduated college with almost a 4.0, but I digress. :) Point, I’m a ‘slow’ reader, so I feel your pain. I just finished Michael’s amazing book, but I’m now struggling with writing the review.
    BTW – Great minds think alike. I’d just pulled up your blog to read when I saw that you posted on mine. :)

  6. Helena says:

    Ciara — OBVIOUSLY you were anything but slow, so isn’t it wonderfully ironic that you grew up to be a successful writer?

    Yes, it’s so sweet when great minds are in sync.

  7. Ciara is what I call a “super” author. What I mean by that, Helena, is that by the time I’ve posted this comment, she will have published another book.

    I’ve heard of authors who can supposedly write a book in eight days. It wouldn’t surprise me if Ciara was one of them. I take two years to write a book (like seriously…I’m that slow).

  8. Helena says:

    Ciara — Yeah, I figure she’s polished off at least a novella and a full length book since last week.

    And you’re not slow, Michael; you’re just a perfectionist who puts lots of brainy science stuff into you books, and that takes time.

  9. I’m a slow reader with fiction, but I can zip through research material like a tornado. Now I have a Kindle, and I find my speed picking up, which I love. I can read an average of two books a month on it, providing I actually have time to read. Some weeks, that’s impossible.

  10. Helena says:

    Carol – My life gets that crazy busy too. But research and non-fiction can be just as slow for me.

  11. Old Kitty says:

    I’m a sloth to your tortoise! LOL!!! I feel totally inadequate when most of my writerly bloggie pals set themselves with targets of like 100 books to read in 2012 etc!!! I’m lucky to finish one in 6 months!! Wolf Hall took me close to 2 years to read! LOL!! Good luck!!! Take care

  12. Helena says:

    Old Kitty – Wolf Hall is SO good, but six months to read that fat thing is reasonable. Where do people — even fast readers — find the time to read 100 books?

  13. Ciara Knight says:

    Just wanted to stop in and say I hope you are having a great weekend.

  14. Helena says:

    Ciara — How thoughtful of you! Hop you and your family had a great one too.