Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Speedy Gonzales

I am not saying this to boast, but I've read 9 books so far this year. Alongside that I have also read numerous blog posts, and several chapters from Deadhouse Gates. I read lots.

This is not my point. My point is that I read fast. This is my choice and my manner of reading.

But recently I have seen people complain about those people who read fast. They state baldly that there is no way people who read fast can possibly enjoy the books as much as those who read slow.


Why should I be looked down on for reading quickly? I remember every book I've read. I remember key characters and events. I might not remember every tiny little detail - but, for me, this just allows the joy of re-reading.

Is there some rule that states books have to be enjoyed slowly?

My rule is this: I will read books how I damn well please!

Do you read quickly or slowly? Are you mystified by the people who do the opposite?


  1. When my mum was still living in Swansea as a late teenager she would borrow TWO books a day from the local library and she would have read them both by the same evening... I tend to read at what I call a comfortable pace ie neither fast nor slow..

  2. I also read quickly, at least compared to many others; I've almost finished my thirteenth book of 2011.

    I actually find that I enjoy books less when I read slowly. If I try to read slowly, I feel like I'm stagnating. I begin to resent the book for taking up so much of my time. Most books are worth two or three days' work, max. Anything more than that annoys me--and because I'm annoyed and resentful, I don't read as deeply as I would've if I'd been fully engaged in the book.

    I guess every reader's different, but I'm stymied at the number of people who insist that reading quickly=reading poorly.

  3. Everyone should read at the pace they find enjoyable. I read fairly quickly and so I have no doubt when Amanda says she's fully enjoying the books she's read so far. Why would anyone doubt that?
    The main point (of course) is that people should read. Fast or slow doesn't particularly matter--just read.

  4. I read pretty slowly, about 40-60 pages an hour (depending mostly on font size). -That is for SFF, I usually read Crime a bit faster than that.

    I can read twice that speed if I want to, but I find that reading at that pace lets me immerse myself in the material better. Something that is important for me with SFF.

    Am I mystified by people who read fast? -Not really, since I'm capable of reading much faster myself. I am however curious as to why people choose to read fast when they state in their reviews that the book needs a re-read to get all the layers, or the full complexity, of the book. If that is the case, I don't understand why people don't read slower and immerse themselves deeper.

    That being said, I have no problem with people reading fast. And I think everyone should be able to read in whatever way they want to.

  5. Speed kills - it also liberates. You can read too fast and lose out a bit, but sometimes you need to go quick or be pulled down into the tar of a sticky stretch of literary asphalt.

    I read at a good clip, generally, but I'll slow down at times when I want to spread out my enjoyment of very good book. It's like savouring a fine meal rather than just bolting down something to keep hunger at bay.

    Junk food books tend to go the way of junk food, unwrapped in a distracted hurry, down the hatch, and best not thought about much afterwards for all the sins and regrets they contain.

    But it's not a race - even though these damn writers keep writing, filling up the world with more of the printed page than any one person can hope to get through in a lifetime - not to mention I strongly suspect the bastards will keep hammering at it long after we're gone.

    In ideal situations, I like to let the book set the pace. But then I like to match my books to mood, location, and even climate, as well as running down an author's oeuvre or over-indulging in a genre before moving on to the next.

    Most of all, I never read a book alone, save for the rarest of circumstances. I normally have around ten books on the go, at least, some may be polished off quickly, others linger. A rough mix of three quarters non-fiction to fiction, would be my guess.

    So I'm always reading, no matter how quickly or slowly I get through an individual text. It's a wonderful world in this respect, though I lose sleep over it both literally and figuratively. The latter due to my fears that I'll run out of time before I run out of great books.

    Enjoy. I've a book or seven I need to get back to.


  6. I actually do both ;) I can read really fast & I usually do that, but sometimes I read slow, too! It all depends on the book! Let's just say that some books doesn't deserve to be read slowly. I don't mean that they're not good, but it's just that they're really easy reads, so there isn't any need to read them slow, so yeah I'll read them really fast. Of course, the other reason is when I can't wait to see what will happen next, so I'll read it fast. As long as I'm completely concentrated on what I'm reading & I'm loving it, of course I'll read it fast & I usually remember most of the details, too :)
    Also, I definitely agree with you & I can understand why you're annoyed! It's really stupid & pointless to complain about how fast someone reads. Everyone reads different! It's just not true that we (the fast readers) enjoy the books less!

  7. Somehow I never seem to read as fast as I think I should be reading. And yet, by most people's standards, I read really fast. It is an odd conundrum.

  8. I've managed 8 books so far this year, and I probably would have managed 2-3 more if work hadn't picked up and I didn't have to sit through another training class during the day. I don't read spectacularly quickly (faster than some, but not as fast as others), but instead am lucky enough to have a job that, for the most part, if often slow enough to allow me to read between other tasks. If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't have half the reading done that I do.

    I don't hate fast readers, nor do I think they get less enjoyment out of the books than those who read slowly. Speedreaders, though, as in those who read a book by skimming the words and hoping that stuff sinks in subconsciously... yeah, I don't think they get as much out of a book as someone who doesn't speedread. Maybe that's where people are getting confused. They associate reading fast with only skimming, because they can't grasp someone reading at a different pace that their own.

  9. I'm like Aidan too. I don't think there's a person that enjoys books so much as I do and reads so slowly. In fact, I read so slowly that it reduces the enjoyment I get from books because I want to get to the next page, then chapter sooner but I can't or don't have the time.
    And the strange thing is that it only happens when I read fiction. When I read blogs, newspapers or even molecular biology articles for my research I can go through pages lightning fast but fiction books go at bullet time! Hahaha

  10. I tend to read pretty fast, well, before child I read pretty fast. Now, with a toddler I find it hard to get any time to read and for me to read I really need a block of time without many distractions. I don't recall books as well as some other people (like dh) but I don't think that has to do with the fact that I read fast, just that my brain doesn't hold on to information for any length of time unless it goes over and over it. In general I don't learn well from written material by itself and I think that is all the same problem.

    I don't judge people if they read slow, why should they judge me for reading fast? Ooh, he's still napping so I really should pick up my book.

  11. I read as fast as I can accurately consume the content. For fluff like Speculative Fiction I normally read 60-100 pages per hour. The opposite end of the spectrum are academic journals which can go as slow as 5-10 pages per hour.

    Regardless I read as fast as it soaks into my brain...comprehension is the key and sets my pace.

  12. Years ago, I lent A Crown of Swords to a friend in University. He took it off my hands around 10 a.m. and returned it at dinner time. I couldn't believe that anyone could read that fast! I quizzed him on the book and he was spot on with just about everything. It still baffles me to this day...

    I would consider myself a slow-moderate reader, usually averaging 30-40 pages per hour. My wife probably reads 20 pages per hour.

    Honestly, who really cares if people read slowly or quickly. If we're all enjoying ourselves and reading what we love, we have nothing to worry about!

  13. Wow, I am jealous, I have only read six books and I was on break until yesterday. I used to read at a decent clip, but now my wife seems to think that it is appropriate to interrupt me as many times as possible if I am reading something. Sometimes a book is good, I find myself just flying through the pages to see what happens next.

  14. The Malazan Reread is actually slowing me down, since I put aside Monday and Tuesday nights for my Malazan chapters. I've always pegged myself as a fast reader compared to people I knew, but these people that read 100 books a year, I just can't even fathom how they do it. If I'm really into it, I can burn through an 800-page book in a week. And I averaged about a book a week last year.

  15. Thank you thank you! People are baffled when I can read a book in a sitting. Sometimes I feel that I lose the big picture if I read only a few pages at a time. I'd rather be absorbed in the story and excited to see what happens next than ponder ever minute detail.

  16. I've always considered myself a fast reader, but then I know a few people who read like a book (sometimes two!) a day. It usually takes me 2-3 days to finish a book, depending on how busy I am. To some people, that's already fast, but to me it's just normal. I guess that's what happens when you're a reader? But there are some books that are just quick reads while others require slow reading.

    I agree with your rule: read however you want. There is no competition, anyway, unless it's otherwise stated, of course. :D

  17. I'm reading less than average so far this year (I blame being sick for over a week and being on strong meds for this). Only just finished my 17th book (have another half-dozen around the halfway mark or beyond) tonight. But I'm enjoying re-reading certain books at a more leisurely pace; thinking about writing some more blog entries on certain things I'm seeing in common from the various classics I've been re-reading this month.

    All things in their time and season, though. I do want to exercise my body and other parts of my mind more this year, so I'll be devoting less time for reading for the next several months.

  18. I read really fast, my husband used to ask me questions when we had read the same thing as he didn't believe that I had actually read it! I have always read fast, I had to when I was at uni as usually had 4-5 books to get through a week. I don't think I miss out on anything though, I think that those people who don't believe us are just jealous as we get to rid more books than they do!

  19. That would be read more books, not rid!

  20. when i was small we used to go to the library every Saturday and i would read 4 books and get another 4 in the time it took my family to choose their books for the week...therefore my family think i read fast but i read about the same number of books a year as you 'manda and a couple of other people who tally up their reads too so I don't think i read all that fast really. If i do nothing else i can read 3 'lite' books in a weekend but it's taken me a good 20 hours to read a weighty 1300 page tome before now. Content matters on the speed of reading.

    as for those who say you can't read fast and read well i say PIFFLE!

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  22. I read pretty slowly, but not quite snail's pace. It also depends on work, how much I like the book, and whether or not I can be left alone while reading. I'm on my sixth book this year, I think.
    If you enjoy the books you're reading, then read them as fast as you can - surely we all wish we could do this? I know I do - I'd get through more awesome books, and not have to worry about falling behind on reviews.
    I am jealous of your reading speed - I know another person who can read four thrillers in five days, and my two best friends also read at least twice as fast as I do.

  23. I can read pretty quickly, though I have to say that since Emma was born I'm more easily (and more often!) interrupted. But once she's asleep, I'll average 30-50 pages an hour (if I don't fall asleep myself that is!) If she's awake I'm loucky to make it through 20 *grin*

    As for being disbelieving or envious, in the nine months I was pregnant I read over 90 books, so I know it can be easily done. It's just that for right now, it's not in the cards for me and it probably won't be for the next six years lol Still I'm on my 5th book of this year, so that's not too shabby ;)

  24. I read fast, just like you. I've completed my 11th book for 2011. I always hate it when people seem to assume I skip pages and paragraphs, or that I don't understand what I'm reading. I've been attacked on internet forums, been told that reading fast surely must affect the quality of my reading. Bollocks, is what I say. It's just not true. It's who I am, it's who I always was. I consider myself lucky. This way I'm able to enjoy a lot more books -and I don't get upset about the occasional bad choice, because it really didn't take up that much of my time.