I love reading. Spending time in bookshops is one of my favourite things to do; whenever we go on holiday or into town, a trip to a bookshop is always on the top of my list. I was even planning on going on a trip with a friend to visit a book shop (Mr. B’s Emporium in Bath, to be specific. They have a book spa!). This has been postponed until after the pandemic, but I’m still really looking forward to being able to go when it’s safe to do so!
Whenever I go out, I have my Kindle or a book in my bag, even if it’s unlikely that I’ll have a chance to read.
I enjoy talking about books and stories with friends (and pretty much anyone else).
I’ve even got a dang degree in English literature.
So when I tell people that I’m a slow reader, most people are shocked.
My reading speed changes depending on where I am in a book. For the most part, the first 20% of a book tends to take me the most time to get through, but once I’m properly interested in it I usually read more quickly. If I’m reading a sequel from a series I can usually jump straight back in – unless it’s Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas (the sequel to the best/cruellest cliffhanger I’ve ever experienced).
For perspective, I tend to get through 30-35 books a year.
I don’t mind that I’m a slow reader in itself, but the issue I have with it is that I want to read a lot of books and my reading speed inhibits this wish. I feel like I’m always behind on reading books, especially as there are so many incredible books to read. Getting distracted by other books while I’m reading another book is also an issue. I have a lot of partially read books.
I had been trying to read more books at the end of last year and into 2020. I was reading on my commute to and from work and during my break. I was doing well, but then lockdown hit and my reading slowed down considerably.
I think this has been the case for a lot of people, so I’m trying not to feel too bad about it.
Reading slowly isn’t a bad thing. I love spending time with a story and the characters. I came across a Ted Talk by Jacqueline Woodson about the benefits of reading slowly, of how you can live in the world created by the author and that taking time with a book is a way of showing the narrative respect. Reading slowly can be particularly beneficial to writers, she says. She even said that she reads slowly herself, which makes me feel considerably better! Her talk is excellent and I recommend having a listen, whether you’re a slow, fast, or in-between reader.
Still, it takes a hit out of my confidence because reading and books are big parts of my life. It’s a bit awkward to say “I love books so much that I’ve started a blog that focuses on books, but I also read slowly.” It feels like those two things shouldn’t go together. I have a lot of respect for people who can read quickly. It’s wonderful! But I don’t think that if you’re a slow reader that you can’t enjoy reading or your experience is any less valid.
I’ve never experienced anyone being unkind towards me because of my reading speed. It’s more of a self-imposed judgement and I am working to not let that affect me as much. I read even slower when I’m worried about how long I’m taking to get through a book, which is the exact opposite of what I want!
Now that I’m used to lockdown, I’m trying to increase my reading speed so that I can read more books.
I’m hoping these changes will help me achieve this goal:
Control my surroundings. Ensuring that I’m comfortable and there aren’t too many distractions can help with my concentration and will hopefully help me become immersed in the story quickly.
For books that I want to blog about, I’m going to aim for a book review every other week to give myself time to read it and think about it, without worrying about the pressure of reading quickly.
Create a reading routine. I’m going to schedule in time to read, especially when I’ve just started a book to help me get through that first 20%.
Stick to reading one book. At least in the fiction genre. This will hopefully help me finish books instead of having a pile of partially read books. And if I don’t want to continue with a book then I need to be more decisive about putting it down instead of trying to power through.
I’m going to try these methods and see how they go. I’ll look into other methods and blog about them periodically if I find anything interesting while doing so.
My main takeaway while reflecting on this is that the quality of my reading doesn’t suffer by being slow. I enjoy reading and talking about books, so I will continue to do so!
Even if I go at a snail’s pace, at least I’m a happy snail.