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Reading

Why I’ll Continue to be a Slow Reader

Goodreads has just asked me to declare my personal reading challenge for 2015.

Last year I chose 40 books as my goal and managed to read 43. Yet I see other people who plan—and in past years have managed—to read 100 books or more in a year.

What’s wrong with me?

I could give up other areas of my life to devote more time to reading, but I enjoy lots of the other things I do: making new friends since moving to a new city, learning about the history and local attractions of my new home town, traveling and spending more time with my husband now that he has retired.

And, oh yes: my writing. I’ve vowed to devote more time and effort to my own writing this year, including a personal challenge to write a blog post a day.

As much as I’d like to read more books, I’m not willing to give up these other activities.

Special thanks to Jeremy Anderberg for backing me up on this:

It mostly comes down to me wanting to accomplish more with my free time than just reading. I want to write more, I want to craft more, I want to do more woodworking, hell, I even want to just socialize more and spend more time catching up with friends on the phone or over coffee. I don’t want my default activity for free time to be to grab a book and go lay down on the couch in my basement.

I’ve also discovered how reading slowly can in fact help me to become a better writer:

Become A Slow Reader

Learning to write sound, interesting, sometimes elegant prose is the work of a lifetime. The only way I know to do it is to read a vast deal of the best writing available, prose and poetry, with keen attention, and find a way to make use of this reading in one’s own writing. The first step is to become a slow reader. No good writer is a fast reader, at least not of work with the standing of literature. Writers perforce read differently from everyone else. Most people ask three questions of what they read: (1) What is being said? (2) Does it interest me? (3) Is it well constructed? Writers also ask these questions, but two others along with them: (4) How did the author achieve the effects he has? And (5) What can I steal, properly camouflaged of course, from the best of what I am reading for my own writing? This can slow things down a good bit.

JOSEPH EPSTEIN
via Jon Winokur, Advice to Writers

I think I’ll continue to read, slowly but proudly, and to consider the answers to these questions. I’ve set my reading challenge at 40 books again for 2015. I won’t be reading less, like Jeremy Anderberg, but I won’t be knocking myself out by trying to read more, either.

What about you? Do you have a personal reading challenge for 2015?