chestnut book blog

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Slow reading

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Although I mentioned this in a previous post, I thought slow reading was so interesting it deserved a post of its own!

In her lovely book, Howards End is on the Landing, Susan Hill recommends the virtues of slow reading; of savouring words and paragraphs, rolling them around in your brain and digesting them at leisure. This really struck a chord with me as I am more of a gobbler. I am greedy with words. I devour them in large chunks and with unseemly haste.

“It will not get us anything that enters not just the conscious mind but the unconscious. It will not allow the book to burrow down into our memory and become part of ourselves, the accumulation of knowledge and wisdom and vicarious experience which helps to form us as complete human beings. It will not develop our awareness or add to the sum of our knowledge and intelligence. Read parts of a newspaper quickly or an encyclopaedia entry, or a fast-food thriller, but do not insult yourself or a book which has been created with its author’s painstakingly acquired skill and effort, by seeing how fast you can dispose of it.”

She is so right. Since I read this paragraph above in particular, I’ve been trying my best to read more slowly, with mixed success. I find myself racing away without really realising it and then have to draw myself back in. What I am finding though is that slow reading makes certain books a much more nourishing experience than before, but it doesn’t work with every book. Some of my holiday books for example were pacey and easy with few hidden depths and I think they are enjoyed more for reading quickly with the brain off. It helps you enjoy the story for what it is, without being a snob and cringing over the odd awkward sentence, typo* or repetition.

If you would like to know more, here are some useful resources I came across in my slow reading research:

The Art of Slow Reading

Reading Fast and Slow

A Slow Books Manifesto

What do you think? Are you a slow reading fan?

* On an unrelated note, have you noticed that there are more typos and repetition errors in books over the last few years or is it just me? The demise of the literary editor might be a future post!

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