It’s halfway through my Christmas holidays and I have to admit – I’m flagging a little on my reading. But no worries – I’ve nearly finished the sprawling novel that is Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (which I’d forgotten I hadn’t quite completed…) and am edging onwards to the stack I’d set aside for the Yuletide period.
When I was growing up, I often read two or three novels simultaneously (my sister thought it odd and said it would make me mix up the stories… what can I say – it didn’t), but these days I tend to stick to one at a time. Well, almost – I had already started Catherynne M Valente’s latest offering while still immersed in Zadie Smith’s book, but it’s generally a one-off now.
Anyway, it got me to thinking of those crafty ‘speed-readers’ – those who can devour one novel or more in a day, despite being as busy as the rest of us. I was chatting to someone before Christmas who said this was what his wife was like – she can read a novel a day BUT (and there is a but!), ask her about the story the following day and, well, she struggles to recall it.
We’ve all read books which we just couldn’t put down, but (and maybe this is just me), even when I have a book like this, I still like to savour it. I enjoy the writing, the pace of the story, and just being sucked into the narrative. And if I do seem to read it ‘too quickly’, then afterwards, I’ll usually reflect on what I’ve just read.
My point (if a point here needs to be made!), is that we all seem to be in a rush to do everything all the time – and us readers do have ever-growing mounds of books to plough through – but there’s a lot to be said for diving into a story and just swimming about in it for a while. You can whizz through those pages if you like, but if you can’t remember much afterwards then for me, it removes some of the joy from reading.
I have a few more days off yet though, and I’m confident I’ll get the chance to savour a couple more of my holiday reads. All the same, whether you’re a speed-reader or not – enjoy those books and have a Happy New Year!