Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Review: Slow Reading in a Hurried Age

Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, by David Mikics
Date: October 2013
Format: Hardcover
How did I get this book? Borrowed from the Library
Goodreads | Publisher

I don't write many book review posts these days, so it's a bit ironic that I'm reviewing a title I didn't even finish! I didn't finish it on purpose though and when I started writing this up on Goodreads, I got a lot more long-winded than I expected. So here we are.

The idea of slow reading appeals to me -- partially because I am a slow reader by default and always have been. The idea of speeding up the "movie in my head" has really not ever appealed to me, despite the fact that I would be able to read more books in the same amount of time if I did. So I guess when I spotted this title, I was really just curious about the benefits of slow reading since I felt like it was something I was already doing. In truth, Mikics' "slow reading" means much more than just a literal slow pace and it was interesting to see what "rules" he has come up with. He very clearly states these are really only guidelines and that he has no intention of ruining the reading experience with mandates -- he feels the "rules" should help readers enjoy books more, not less, and that each reader should only take what he or she can use -- which I feel is important to point out because I have seen other reviews criticize the very idea of reading "rules."

All that said, I really enjoyed and got a lot out of the Introduction, The Problem, and The Answer chapters. After that I skimmed and skipped (which is rather the opposite of what the author is advocating!) because the examples were mostly classics I have not read. I was honestly not interested in another person's analysis of books based on the advice given, just the advice itself. I think a lot of the ideas here can apply to any kind of book, it was just way beyond me to have so many points of reference I was unfamiliar with. At some point, I'd like to discover some of the books discussed for myself rather than read Mikics' analysis of various snippets.

I think the strongest part of this book was the discussion in those first few chapters of reading in the digital age. I don't want to be alarmist, over-dramatic, or demonize technology, but I could completely relate to many of the descriptions of distraction and discontent related to too much screen time. It is making me rethink my relationship with screens and validating the feeling that I really need a break from it all sometimes -- and that break is well spent if I take the time to read instead.

I'm glad I borrowed this from the library instead of purchasing it because the book as a whole didn't work for me. But I'm very glad for the parts that did resonate with me and I copied a TON of quotes into my reading journal. Those first chapters are definitely worth a read if slow reading appeals to you in any way -- or if the distractions of technology are leaving you feeling a little frazzled or sapping your concentration. But if you'd like to take a peek at the "Rules," check out this Huffington Post article which abbreviates those 130 pages very nicely.

10 comments:

  1. This sounds like it could be a really interesting book, although only for the elements you mention having enjoyed yourself.

    The 'slow movement' is something I've been reading up on more since learning about slow travel, and I do really love the concept; I feel like I resonate with it a lot and have taken it on board this past year as I've been focusing more on living life rather than just speeding through it. Soaking up every little moment - we can so easily get caught up with the future and what is ahead. In this instance - what book we're reading next etc.

    I've gone on a bit of a ramble. Sorry! Off to read the post you've linked now.

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    1. A ramble is all good :) I think you'd like the first few chapters for sure if you have an interest in the slow movement. The rest was just a bit too much for me -- and probably a lot of readers too :)

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  2. This actually appeals to me because I am very much not a slow reader. I feel like writing reviews helps me retain more of the books that I read, because I slow down a bit and take notes for my review, but I still think I could benefit from reading even more slowly and analytically much of the time. Great review!

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    1. It's harder than it seems! I don't take notes like that usually, but I have definitely slowed down a bit more since I started to note favorite quotes and passages -- and I definitely retain more that way. Since you read a lot of non-fiction, this might be an interesting one to check out -- for parts of it at least -- or maybe you would like all of it!

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  3. Oh this sounds like the kind of book I would not be able to handle.๐Ÿ™ˆ I do everything on SUPER speed. It can be a problem haha. ๐Ÿ˜‚ But I can't handle going slow so I don't blame you for not being super interested in everything this book had to say!

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    1. I couldn't handle the whole thing for sure! If you are happy at super speed, no need to torture yourself :) I just wish I could be a bit less screen-addicted, honestly :/

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  4. I'm so glad you posted this review! I too have found that reading on a screen has been detrimental to my comprehension, so I've gone back to physical books and printing articles of interest. Doing so has allowed me to engage with the material more deeply, and I find I'm reading MORE.

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    1. I didn't even think of printing articles -- that's an interesting idea! I think I just read on screens so automatically without really committing to what I am reading like I would with a book -- printing an article would mean I made a conscious decision that I really want to read it, so I can see that working.

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  5. This sounds like an intriguing read, and especially important in today's day and age of screen addiction. I'm a pretty fast reader, and I get frustrated if a book is taking too long for me to get through (this normally happens when life is busy). I'd have to have the right book to make reading slow on purpose work for me. But I love the idea of less screen time! :)

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    1. Oh the author is definitely referring to classics and other "heavier" texts. I rarely read those kinds of books, but I still got a bunch out of the screen discussions :) I have so many classics (technically "childrens" classics probably) unread on my shelves and I think when I finally get around to those is when I'm going to try to keep some of this books' tips in mind -- especially using a dictionary!

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I'd love to hear what you think :)