What and How on Reading

I’m reading Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.  It’s over 700 pages long which intimidates me on the one hand, on another, on my iPad the heft isn’t a constant reminder.  But it’s not the quantity that counts, as my seventh grade teacher used to say, it’s how I’m reading now versus how I used to read as a younger person.

When I was younger I read as fast as I could. Part of this was a result, I’m sure of sitting in Mrs. Stine’s sixth grade reading circle and when it was my turn to read aloud I’d try to read as fast as I could to impress my classmates. I also was under the gun to get so many books read.  I knew the world was made up of zillions of books in the library and bookstore waiting for me. My older brother was always giving me books I didn’t understand, Borges, Lovecraft, etc. and I wanted to get through them to say I had read them.  So much reading to do, so little time!

Now, not so much.

Now, I am still anxious about all the books to read and not having the time. But now I wallow. I was somewhere around page 100 and something in Donna Tartt’s book when I realized I couldn’t remember what had transpired between the main character, Theo and the dying man in the museum.  I remembered some details, but not all. Probably Tartt would have reminded me of the details as the story continued, but I wanted to hold them in my hand while I read. So I went back 75 pages and reread the long scene. Details showed themselves that I hadn’t held onto before. Really important and rich details. Part of that gone-missing problem is my holey memory, part of it is remnants of old habits of reading too fast. But the best part is how now I have the patience to go back and take my time and if it means I’ll read fewer books this month, I know it means this book will stay with me longer.  

Just a realization.

Happy 50.019th to me.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Writer's [Inner] Journey
    Jan 16, 2014 @ 16:24:35

    I LOVE to listen to audio books and now I check out five at a time…if I don’t feel it by the end of the first disc (sometimes earlier), out it goes and in goes a new one. I don’t feel bad about it anymore, or that I’m not smart enough. It just IS.

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    • Amy Wallen
      Jan 16, 2014 @ 21:50:15

      I agree with this philosophy! It goes beyond just that there’s not enough time for not enough books, it’s about what matters to us. I may take longer to read one book, but stop reading another. It’s finding what works for us. Thanks MJG.

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      Reply

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