Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Slow reads and fast reads

gaudy night AKA A Book Ramble…

I have just updated my progress with the books I’m reading on Good Reads. It made me realise that three of the four books I’m currently reading are older books (all with a certain “classic” status – not actual classics but ones that have long time fans) that need to be read slowly and savoured and appreciated.

It made me think. I wonder if these days, with so many books saturating the market, we tend to look for fast reads so that we can get on to the next one. We have these huge TBR lists/shelves/piles/mountains/Everests where we have so many books we want to read that if we ever stopped to think about how long it would take to read them all we’d probably run screaming (I know I certainly would).

But for all their potential quick-read status, I’m currently not all that enthused by my TBR and finding great freedom in reading other things.

For me it’s Mary Stewart (Madam, Will You Talk?), Dorothy L. Sayers (Gaudy Night) and Dorothy Dunnett (Scales of Gold). And I don’t mind slipping between the books and spending some time in France, Oxford and Portugal (at the moment, although Nicholas is on his way to Africa). Instead of rushing, rushing, rushing I think I need to take the quiet reading time. If I decide to go through with reading some more Mary Stewart as I am so tempted to do, that’s okay. If I decide to continue following Nicholas around the world or join Harriet and Peter as they explore married life, what’s to stop me?

The only person who ever said I had to read books from the TBR and/or read them fast was me. Surely if anyone can change my mind, it should be me!

I also have all three of these books both as paper copies and audiobooks. In the past I’ve always tried to listen to the audiobooks pretty much on their own merit. Gaudy Night is my official current listen and I’m struggling with it because I only get to listen at night and I keep falling asleep. This morning, I added Madam, Will You Talk? to my PDA after I’d read one chapter of the book. So while lying down for my daily rest (aka sleep of the dead) I listened to that first chapter. It was a great way to do it. Instead of trying to concentrate really hard (I take in information many times better when it’s written that when I listen), it just gently reinforced what I had already read and was a much more relaxing experience. So maybe I need to do that instead. Again, it’s a case of going slowly and savouring the experience rather than trying to get more books read by listening to one as well as reading others.

Perhaps we’ve forgotten how to do that – take it slowly and enjoy the experience – in this fast paced world. I certainly think I had.

While I readily admit that the TBR is sure to obsess me again before too long, I’m going to enjoy this new way of looking at things for as long as it lasts.

9 comments:

Louise said...

I agree with you. I also have a huge mountanious TBR, and I often try and say to myself to ONLY read books from the TBR. But now and then (in fact rather often I am afraid) I buy or loan new books as well ;o)

Deirdre said...

Coincidence that I watched Gaudy Night over the weekend. I really should find my copy and read it.

Amy said...

Well said. Every time I take time to savor a book, I enjoy it so much more. But I have such a frantic review schedule! I really need to learn that less can be more.

orannia said...

Kerry - I really think you're on to something! Because it is all about your reading pleasure...and sometimes we lose that in the mountainous TBR pile!

Molly said...

I found your website via My Friend Amy's post and I am SO glad she led me here.

I have been musing this exact same topic for quite some time now. While there are so many books that I would like to read (and the list continues to grow each and every day), I have discovered that I like to take my time when I read. I feel as though I am cheating the author - and myself - if I breeze through a book. I also like to take time after I have finished a book in order to ponder the themes and insights into human nature that the author has presented.

I look forward to following your blog in the future!

Vasilly said...

I agree with you. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in making a dent in our piles of books, we don't savor the book we're reading at the time.The next time I'm racing through a book to read the next one, I'll think of this great post.

Red lady-Bonnie said...

I also found your website from My Friend Amy's Link Post. What a wonderful post and so pertinent to us avid readers. I enjoy a balance between a slow read and fast read. I love those quick...I can't turn the page fast enough books as they are fulfilling to read. I just finished a book like this that I read fast but savored and am still thinking about at the moment.

Dorte H said...

A really fine and thoughtful post. I think it is important for bloggers to remember that actually we are supposed to read and enjoy books for our own sake and not anyone else´s.

Susan said...

Kerry, I have a huge pile of TBR books, that sit there until I am in the mood for them. SOmetimes for two or three years! While I read other ones that come along. Maybe you've been looking at the same TBR pile for so long, it's time to go through it - and your shelves - and reshuffle it - I do that once in a while, and it works. Anyway, the important thing is to enjoy reading, and enjoy what we are reading, and I really like how you tie that into savouring the book, too. Nice post!