Curse of the Slow Reader

I read slower than molasses oozes. Some of it comes from my hang up on grammar. I recall that when I first started to write, I’d make every sentence grammatically correct. No fragments. The same with reading. If there was something askew with the text, I kept reading it. Obsessed in a way. Seeking to fix the problem in my mind.

I took a speed reading class when I was younger. Interesting technique, but I’d never want to use it. It’s like eating ice cream in pill form. It sucks all the magic out of reading. Sure it works, but do you really need to read that fast?

I have gotten better (both with the grammar and the reading). Mostly it came with practice. I realized I couldn’t be an adequate writer if I didn’t read a whole heck of a lot. I started with audio books. (At the time I had a 20 minute commute). Then, as my mind adjusted to the rhythm of reading again, I tried out the paper and ink versions again.

A lot had to do with my students as well. I wanted to introduce some middle grade and young adult books to them, but I felt I should read them first to make sure they were kosher. This led to my first reading obsession: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I inhaled that book.

My slow reading had another curse. When I joined my online critique group, I was given three sets of 50 page manuscripts and two weeks to read them. Anxious didn’t even describe me. I took those suckers to work and read them in my spare time. I just barely made the deadline. Now I’m a bit faster. I have to be. Life is hectic and if I’m going to read at all, I have to dive in. No holding back.

So if you lament you tortoise like reading habits, worry not. You’re in good company. Keep reading though. You’ll get better and you just may enjoy the ride.

Tim Kane