Reading Slowly

Are you a slow reader or a fast reader? With me, it depends. Sometimes it can take me forever just to get through a sentence, and sometimes I can read 100 pages an hour. Of course, the way the book is written is usually the deciding factor (i.e. Suzanne Collins’ writing versus Stephen King’s writing versus Charlotte Bronte’s writing). But sometimes I just love to linger over the words, or read each page twice to let it really sink in. Other times I’m so involved in the story that I burn through the pages, just barely skimming the words so that I can find out what happens. Usually after finding out, I’ll make myself go back and actually read the pages I skimmed, but sometimes the last 100 pages of a book are just so intense that I never get a chance to go back.

One example of this in particular that I can think of is when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out. I was seventeen, it was the summer before college, and I didn’t have a job, so I went out that morning around 10am, bought the book, and read it all day. I finished it around 9pm that night having skimmed basically the whole book (because I needed to know what happened…and also was terrified of spoilers reaching me before I was done)–not a lot of time to go back and linger over the lovingly crafted passages. But as soon as I finished (and got to discuss it with my friends, who also had read the entire book that day), I turned back to the beginning and started again to catch all the little things I’d missed. I still go back and read it and catch things I’ve missed.

In general, I think I read pretty quickly. Part of this is because I’m impatient and my attention span doesn’t last too long; the other part is that I think my brain just works that way. I’ve loved to read since I was little, and, as they say, practice makes perfect.

The response I hear most often to the question, “Why don’t you like to read?” is “I’m such a slow reader. It takes me forever to finish anything.” But like I said above: practice makes perfect. This is something I just recently went through with my younger sister, who used to hate to read more than anything–because she was a slow reader. But then she started reading The Hunger Games series, and she was hooked. She couldn’t devour the first one fast enough. Readers, I can’t tell you how ecstatic I was that she was finally reading. So when she asked me if she could borrow my copies of the second and third, I took it upon myself to buy her a boxed set. She loved it, and read the second and third in about 36 hours–faster than I’d read them, even!

Where am I going with this? I talked to her the other day and suggested another book for her to read, but she asked me not to send her any more books because she couldn’t get behind on schoolwork like she had when she read The Hunger Games–she had spent upwards of eight hours each day reading! (You know that’s the mark of a good book when everything else goes out the window when you’re reading. Not that I’m encouraging that, but still.) My point here is that even though she probably still read more slowly than other people do, she finally found a book (or three) that made reading worth it for her.

So, in conclusion, “I’m such a slow reader” is not an excuse! Maybe you just haven’t found the right book yet. And besides, we can’t all be speed demons. Everyone reads at his or her own pace, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Keep looking. I promise–once you find the right book, it will all be worth it.

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