The Dog Ear: Speed read (or not)
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 23:09
Last week, I wrote that the first books I wanted to read this semester were “The Hunger Games” series, but that I felt that the plight of homework would greatly restrict my reading. Well, I’m now about 80 pages into “Mockingjay,” having already finished the first two books. Despite the growing amount of things to do, I’ve been trying to read this series as fast as I can, since I find myself engrossed in the plot whenever I pick up any of the books. My desire for speeding through them caught me off guard. It made me wonder if I should be savoring the books instead, leading to an internal conflict. So: to speed or to savor?
I speed through books, regardless of my intentions. I’m a fast reader and when I start reading, I whip through the pages. I can sit down and read a book all day long until I’m done, while other people spread it out over days. I read both “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” each in one day. I read “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in about six hours. If the book is worth it, speeding through the book is wonderful because you can take it all in at once without many (or any) breaks. You can completely immerse yourself in the text. If it’s a newly released book, you don’t have to run the risk of someone spoiling the ending for you, since you’ll be the one to finish first. Conversely, your friends might not want to talk to you out of fear that you will wind up spoiling the book for them.
While the satisfaction of completing the book and the relief of knowing how the novel ends are fantastic feelings, if you finish too quickly, there might be a creeping feeling of disappointment in the back of your mind. You can never read a book for the first time again. The first read of a book is unlike any other. You don’t know anything about the characters, their world or how the author composed the story. Everything is new. You can’t brace yourself for a sad part because you don’t know what’s about to hit you. You can’t figure out the same mystery twice. If you rush through the book too fast, you might not be able to appreciate the novel completely. You also have to let go of the fantasy worlds the author has created and return to reality earlier. The story is never quite the same after the first read.
Savoring a book can also be like an anchor weighing you down. If you slowly ebb along, reading a chapter one day and a few pages the next, you might make the book tedious for yourself, no matter how good it is. No one wants to spend months on one book. Parts of the book might not even make sense if you put too much space between readings. On the other hand, parts of the book might make more sense if you savor the novel, since it’s less likely that you will accidently skip a part. Spending more time on a book can also allow you to explore the author’s writing and pick up on any symbols or metaphors.
Neither approach to reading is wrong. It simply depends on how fast you read, your style of reading, and also, the book. Some books force you to savor them because they are so dense, such as “Game of Thrones.” Others are written with less detail, and the author’s style makes the novel a lighter read. Nevertheless, whether you speed through a novel or savor it, as long as you read, it’s okay in my book.