Slow Reading

Cherie and I are both book lovers and avid readers. We have overflowing book shelves throughout our house and books stacked high in our studies. Reading is our primary hobby and we both read at least an hour a day and often more.

I’m not one of those people who can have multiple books going at once. When I start a book I read it to the end before starting another. But I always have books queued up to follow the one I’m reading. So even though I want to savor and get the most out of whatever book I’m reading, I’m always conscious of the large stack of books waiting to be read, and calling me to hurry up.

So I enjoyed this post on The World According to Dina (HERE), which introduced me to the “slow reading” movement. The post links to an article about the Slow Books Manifesto (HERE). I recommend the post and the link. Bibliophiles, and I know that describes many who read this blog, will appreciate them both.

I’ve never been one for marking up books as I read them. It has always seemed sort of wrong to me to write in a book. I don’t even like to bend the spine. But I once had a professor who required that the assigned books be “marked up” as they were read. He firmly believed that the process of taking notes in a book as you read it “made the book your own” and contributed to retention of the material. After taking that class I actually continued the practice for a while, but I soon abandoned it. I mentioned that in a comment on the blog and they replied that they always mark up books while reading them, unless it’s a rare or beautiful book, in which case they make notes on little slips of paper and leave them in the book. I found that interesting. But even more interesting, they said that when buying used books they prefer books in which the the previous owners have left notes and comments. This struck me: “We find it very interesting to read other people’s ideas. And we think a book without comments and underlinings is either a boring book or a book waiting desperately to be used.” That makes good sense to me and puts a whole new light on things. I haven’t started marking up my books yet, but I’m thinking that maybe I should.

As an aside, I find it interesting that the ethic and language of the Slow Food Movement is now being applied to so many other things–such as “Slow Books.” Many of you will know of Michael Pollan’s famous advice: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Notice how the tag line of the Slow Books Movement tracks that: “Read books. As often as you can. Mostly classics.”

Whether you’re a “slow” reader or a speed reader—happy reading y’all!