I've always been a fast reader. The faster, the better. In Adolescent Literature class, we learned that adolescents judge whether to read a book based on font size, page numbers and white space. And that was certainly a consideration. Though I did get a thrill when I could read small print very fast. Even now I kind of get excited when a picture or chapter ending increases my pages/minute. (Yes I do keep track... and I race myself.)
But I started Absalom, Absalom and it was S-L-O-O-O-W. And now I'm reading War and Peace, and I'm not making my 250 pages a day to finish it by the end of the week. I'm doing better than the 50 pages a day my husband thought was the max a person could read. But still, it took me 2 hours to read 70 pages. That's no where near my page a minute average reading speed.
I think my system is corrupt. It really shouldn't be about speed. I know that. And I'm starting to develop a theory: Good literature takes time. I'm not totally willing to say that Absalom, Absalom is the best book ever because it's taking me FOREVER to read it, but I am willing to say that War and Peace makes me think. I have to take time to read carefully so I understand where the battles are going and understand the significance of little actions. I can read Twilight in an afternoon because it's light and fluffy and every single word doesn't add to the quality of the book. (Though New Moon with the 5 pages of blank in the middle is GREAT for reading speeds.) Even last semester, when I was reading with a time in mind (a must to get everything read for class), I wanted to let my mind wander and muse over these concepts. So that's my new mantra: Good literature takes time. It probably won't cure my speed demon ways, but it might keep me from freaking out when it takes an hour to read 15 pages.
Picture credit: Godverbs