Sunday Coffee – Quick, Slow

This week I skim-read through a book called Girls of Paper and Fire. I’m not a speed-reader, so when I skim-read, it’s mostly skipping through bits and catching on to important stuff along the way. The book is 380 pages, and only took a couple hours with this method with lots of interruptions.

The thing is, I remember back to my early years of blogging, when I was reading about 200 books a year. I certainly didn’t have more time then than now, especially with my kids being young. And I haven’t gotten slower as a reader in general. I remember back to my first Readathon, when I read three whole books (Stardust, Peeps, and The Hunger Games) as well as one graphic novel (Fun Home) in a single 24-hour period. If I read any of those whole books today, I’d likely take a full day if not 2-3 days to read them.

Since I no longer have access to my original Zen Leaf blog, I don’t have a lot of the non-review bookish posts I created at the time. I do remember that back in the fall of 2010, I felt glutted on books. I listened to my first audiobook, which forced me to slow down, and found that 1) I remembered the books better if I slowed down, and 2) I enjoyed them more. It took some time to apply this method to visual reading, but eventually I got there. I do still read some books quickly, depending on how they’re written, but this isn’t my favorite method of taking in books. This probably explains why so much of what I read these days is on audio. I like the experience of the book more than the act of reading.

I’ve never counted skim-reads as part of my list of books read in a year. If I’m going to add it to the list and review it, I feel like I should have given it full attention. Otherwise I tend to see only the surface level of a novel, and to comment on the quality based only on a partial look at a book feels untrue to The Zen Leaf. I could tell you my shallow impressions of Girls of Paper and Fire (decent writing, predictable plot, misleading synopsis) but I missed so much of the meat of the book that those impressions might be way off what they would have been had I read it fully.** And reading this way made me remember just how much I came to dislike quick reads of most books. Slow and languorous works for me, so different from those early days of blogging.

**Why didn’t I read it fully, you ask? I only meant to be previewing the book to see if I wanted to move it from my to-investigate list to my TBR. When previewing books, I tend to skim-read the first 5-20 pages until something either definitely catches my attention or shows me that this is not the book for me. Some books fall into the middle, and often if I read them fully, I either abandon them halfway through (like Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra) or they end up as “just-okay” books that I wish I hadn’t continued (like Reign the Earth, which I read this spring). So I ended up skimming this one to the end, because something kept my attention, though not enough to fully read.

About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
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6 Responses to Sunday Coffee – Quick, Slow

  1. Michelle says:

    I most definitely have slowed down my reading over the years, and I am okay with that. Reading is much more fulfilling to me when I slow down. I opt for quality over quantity these days, even if this is something I have not done in past years. Reading is such a sensory experience to me that when I do find myself with extra time or the ability to concentrate, I want to savor it. Audiobooks, to me, are a means to multi-task and lack some of that sensory feedback I associate with reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amanda says:

      I think I end up getting more sensory feedback from audio these days, probably because in the beginning I only listened to them when trying to escape from whatever physical work I had to be doing. Now, it’s more like hearing a movie instead of reading a book, and I get the same vivid mind-images (if not more) than when I physically read.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Like Michelle, I have slowed down my reading and opt for the quality over quantity too. My numbers of books per year are way down from when I first started book blogging, but I’m okay with that. I like to think that it’s helped me focus on the books that matter.


  3. It’s so fascinating (and cool) how we all have such different reading styles! I am so particular that when I start a book, I almost always make myself finish it in its entirety even if I don’t necessarily like it. I like that you skim-read and really decide before you invest yourself in a book fully.


    • Amanda says:

      I was that way until a particular book club in 2006. We were given the book Sixty-Six, which I hated from the very first paragraph. Jason asked me why I tortured myself by continuing, and I said I had to finish because I started. I did finish that book – it never got any better – but afterwards realized that yeah I should stop torturing myself with books I don’t like. Since then, I no longer finish any book that’s bothering me, even if that means quitting only a few chapters or even pages from the end.


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