Book Broads • The Difficulties of Being a Fast Reader

by Portia Turner

I’ve always prided myself on being a fast reader. I love that I can get through crazy amounts of books (even though it still stresses me out that I can’t get through more) and I am well aware that it is a skill that people are jealous of.

That said, I recently went to a family reunion and decided to tackle a “book written before 1900” for my reading challenge with my roommates. I brought Middlemarch with me because I have been wanting to read it for ages and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Reading this book, though, has made me realize that I have developed very little patience when it comes to reading and my attention span for books has, unfortunately, decreased. I’m not used to spending more than a week reading a book and, as I approached week 3 with this tome, I found myself thinking, why aren’t you reading this faster? It’s thoughts like these that kept me reading and honestly, have probably pushed me through passages too quickly so I found myself not even sure what has just happened. And then I would go to work and realize that books are coming out that I meant to have read and I started to resent that I was still reading Middlemarch even though I was really enjoying the book and really did want to finish it.

It is disturbing to me that my attention span for reading has decreased and it is even more upsetting because, working at a bookstore, my hunger for books and my TBR list has grown insanely huge amounts. My want to experience as many stories as possible is making it hard for me to experience some of these books in the moment. Sure, there are the books that immediately pull me in and that I can’t put down and love from page one (I’m looking at you, Spoonbenders) but for most books, I find myself speeding through, not always giving myself a chance to fully relax and enjoy the book for what it is. This year I have found myself feeling so-so about more books than any other year.

This isn’t going to slow me down. I still have overwhelming piles of books around my room and I am still constantly bringing home new ones. But hopefully this realization will make me think harder about each book. Because books and reading are so important to me. And I need them to mean more than just a number at the end of the year.

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