After nearly two years of book blogging and a lifetime of reading, I’ve learned a few things about my preferred reading style:
1. Reading is my preferred form of relaxation
2. I prefer to be thoroughly engrossed in stories as I read
3. I like to take my time reading stories
There are other conclusions I can make based on my reading style, but for now I want to focus on the fact that, while I do consider myself to be a faster than average reader, I rarely ever spend fewer than a few days with the same book. I’m a LTR (a long-term reader - and, yes, I did just make up that phrase) and proud of it.
So what defines a long-term reader? For me, it means that I’m going to take a little extra time reading a book, even if I could potentially finish it within a day. It means that, for me, the best way to fully comprehend a book is to have it occupy my mind for a few days straight, giving me time to think about the story and process it in between reading sessions. It means that I generally only read one book at a time so that I can better concentrate on and reflect on my current read.
Unfortunately, it also means that I only read about two books per week, and that there’s no way for me to post more than two reviews a week. The benefits, however, far outweigh those consequences for me.
I decided to start writing reviews for two main reasons: to record my thoughts on the books that I read, and to encourage myself to continue to think critically about literature. Since I started this blog, neither of those goals has been difficult to accomplish except for when I end up speeding through a book.
Maybe it’s the student who spent four years studying literature in both English and Spanish speaking here, but I want to be able to think critically about what I read, to tease out meanings and form new understandings. Stories are written for the purpose of entertaining, of course, but I like to think there’s more at stake in them, and I find that I appreciate them best when I am able to spend a little more time with them.
When I read through a book within a short span of time, I may be enjoying myself, but the book usually doesn’t end up leaving much of a lasting impression on me. I don’t have time to process and think about it outside of actually reading it, which makes it difficult for me to recall my thoughts on it. And if I’m having trouble internally processing the book, then there’s no way I could write a decent review (which, again, isn’t the be-all end-all of reading for me, but it is another helpful tool to help me become a better reader and writer).
In the few months making up this year so far, Laura Florand’s The Chocolate Thief and Carrie Mesrobian’s Sex & Violence are the only books I read within the span of two days. And, really, that was just too short a span of time for me. I feel like there were aspects in both that I missed or just didn’t get to fully appreciate because I devoted fewer days and sittings to reading them, and therefore less time for processing them. The only time that’s really worked is if I’m re-reading a book, such as I did with Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of the Rock so that I could be better prepared to read Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn.
None of this means that I don’t race through books or binge-read series on occasion, but those instances are rare. I’ve come to understand that I lose a lot more by reading quickly than I do by taking my time and really valuing the story in front of me.
Reading is an intensely personal experience, and the intention of this post is not to deride those who get through a book (or more) in a day or even in a single sitting. Rather, it’s to add my perspective to the dichotomy between fast readers and slow readers.
How do you prefer to read your books? Am I all alone in preferring (needing, really) to take my time with each book I read?