Saturday, February 5, 2011

Reading Slowly

I love the smell of books.  Not only do I love the sensations (the way the book feels in my hands, the breeze of turned pages, how my body feels to sit in a chair, aware of my legs and arms and back), but I also love the act of reading words, allowing another writer to feel like someone else is listening, witnessing a story unfold, and learning something new. 

Even though I love the act of reading, I often speed through my books as though my main goal is to finish the book, not exactly to imagine it, or to linger awhile with the characters.  I am aware of this habit and I can share some techniques that have worked for me.

First, I understand why I scan my books and read really fast, which helps me realize why it's not ideal anymore.  In school, there were always large amounts of homework and I simply did not have enough time to read everything slowly and fully absorb it. 

Second, I can be pretty sped up at times. I am just a generally energetic person during the daytime.

(Question for reflection: If you scan books when you read, do you know why you do this?)

Here are the techniques that have worked for me.

1. Take deep breaths.  Move around before you sit still.  Sit comfortably. 

2. Imagine the scene.  Sometimes it helps to pause after each detail in order to more fully imagine the entire scene.  Don't just stop with visual details, but incorporate smells, sensations, tastes, and sounds as well.

3. If you're alone, reading aloud certain passages can help enliven them for you.

4. Keep in mind your purpose for reading.  If you really like the book, moving at a slower pace will allow you to catch more details and gain a clearer understanding of it.



  1. I keep a book journal of books I read, and sometimes note down lines or brief passages that really catch my attention. I love re-reading really effective writing, always finding something more the second and third time around.

  2. yes that's very good advice, I always read more slowly when I'm reading a book for enjoyment. I reread my favourite passages too

  3. Joanne, the way you described your journal idea sounds helpful. I might try that again in the future.

    Crafty Green Poet, thanks!, rereading really does make the process more enjoyable.

  4. I love this post! I love the smell of books too and your description of the act of reading is just so lovely and true.

    I'm a fast reader too. When I read, I so often find myself watching the page numbers. Even if I'm enjoying the book! I wish I could stop but I can't seem to. Sometimes I will get really immersed in a book and I don't even notice but that doesn't happen as much as I would like.
    Thank you for sharing these techniques; I may have to try them. :)

  5. I too read fast, probably stemming from being a child and bringing home too many books from the library and feeling the need to finish them quickly so I could get them back on time.

    I love your tips I am sure they will help. :-)

  6. This was really helpful - I find myself scanning and not absorbing all the time!

    God Bless!

  7. Thanks for sharing your experiences! Hope the tips make a little difference. :-)