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Monday, January 10, 2011

How quickly do you read?

I ask about reading speed because feeling I'm slightly ashamed of how long the gaps are getting between new postings on here and I’m wondering if I’m a slow reader.

Certainly my sister, my nieces and several of my best friends seem to read at warp factor speeds compared to me. They polish off several books in a week, while I’m plodding along behind.

I mean, I don’t move my lips, or drag my finger along the line, but I’m thinking I must read more slowly than I used to.

That’s scary because it means I will be able to fit less books in before I cark it. Really scary.

Or is it a time thing? From my waking moment I am doing one of three things:

1. Being with and looking after my daughter.
2. On my laptop, working or tooling around (which always feeds into work, or that’s how justify it…)
3. Mundane chores of life.

As Coco Chanel so famously said: There is no other time.

(She divided her time between ‘work and love’, rather more glamorously. And being French, when she said ‘love’ she meant vigorous rumpy pumpy.)

Also slowing things up, I’m reading two books in tandem at the moment. I have a day book and a night book, because the day book is so fascinating, I can’t read it at night. The ideas make my brain start break dancing and I just lie there for hours with my eye wide shut.

So at night I’m reading a very long and ‘important’ novel in very short unsatisfactory bursts, which isn’t right at all.

But hopefully when I get back into my proper work schedule, according to the Stephen King method (see my post of January 16, 2010), I will be writing my 2,500 words in the morning and reading in the afternoon. So things should speed up on here.

On the other hand, is reading Formula One fast always the best way? One of my exes reads incredibly slowly. It would take him months to read a novel, but once he’d finished, he never forgot a single thing about it.

One holiday I finished what I was reading almost immediately after we’d got to the beach, and hadn’t put a new one in my bag = total disaster for me.

To stop me freaking out, he told me the entire story of the novel Perfume. Remembering every name and every detail. It was like listening to a talking book.

As I sometimes can’t remember the names of the characters in my own novels, this was pretty amazing to me.

So I think it doesn’t matter how quickly you read, as long as you do.


  1. Someone I knew at uni (I'd describe him as a friend but I can't remember his name) once said "All reading is good reading". He used it in the context of the trashy magazine I was trying to hide, but I think it applies just as well to reading speed.

    I'm a pretty fast reader, although the more literary the book the slower I read it. But, unless the book is exceptional, it pretty much gets dumped from my short term memory a week after finishing it. My husband on the other hand is a slower reader, but he remembers every book he reads. They stay with him.

    Whatever works for you, is my thoughts!

  2. I dont think it matters how quickly you read, unless you start things and never finish them.... having said that one of my new years resolutions is to read 100 books this year, which is on average 1 every 3-ish days. Not quite sure how that is going to pan out, although so far I'm right on schedule!

  3. I am quite a fast reader, although I agree with KJ, the more literary the book the slower I read it. I am co-reading two books at the moment also - day reading Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson which I am finding ever so fascinating and thought provoking and night reading Wolf Hall at your recommendation which I am finding tough going, (but still enjoying it) not normally reading 'literature' the writing style is still throwing me with all the "he's" and not knowing quite which he is being spoken about. So I do feel I am reading slowly also.

    I don't think it matters how fast you read, as long as you do read. If you're enjoying it and taking it in then that's all that matters, and busy-ness with everyday life does seem to take over doesn't it!

    Because I read so fast I often re-read books and I find each time I reread them I get something new out of them, some little bit of information I overlooked, or now that I know the ending a clever little twist written in early that I hadn't quite picked up on how cleverly it had been written.

  4. ha ha ha!! i think it depends which book! if it's good, it's gone - read quickly that is! if it;s kind of dragging on a bit then perhaps it takes me a bit more time. One of your books (title escapes me right now - but private eye James is the main man and well there is a bit of "rumpy pumpy" going on at a certain development site - yes that one) - well i had that read in less than two days - that's with two kids, chores and work to do in between.... I admire that man for reading slow but taking it all in! I can't even remember the title of your book - how embarrassing!!

  5. I've always thought of myself as a slow reader. But then I went and raced through the four Twilight books in a week. So it turns out I'm not slow; I'm just immature!

  6. I burn through books and it's bloody expensive as i have the added issues of wanting to keep every thing i read (like some weird trophy). I unfortunately remember pretty much everthing, which kind of makes keeping the book redundant but i do love a re read on a cold wet afternoon

  7. There's nothing like being able to lose yourself in a book. I generally read very fast: however, sometimes my "Day Book" takes longer because I am usually reading 2 others simultaneously - just now, I'm reading Bill Bryson's "At Home" which is fantastic, but also needs proper digesting. I've been reading it for 2 weeks, am near fnished.
    BUT:(and this is true, not just because I am here) if the book is one of yours, I try and slow down so it's not over so soon... I absolutely adore your writing.
    My usual afternoon/rip-through books could be: Bernadette Strachan, India Knight, Marian Keyes, Jonathan Tropper, Jenny Colgan, Kate Atkinson, great crime novels, oh too many... also rereading, if I feel like it.
    On a wet weekend I recently reread "Rachel's Holiday" after 20 years or so, and was amazed how much I loved it - again. Those kinds of books I read in one or two days(kids/relationship/work allowing).
    Thank the Gods for Awesome Books, or the habit would be very expensive.