Sunday, January 18, 2009

Confessions of a slow reader

New year's resolutions are made to be broken. In fact the only New Year's resolution I've managed to keep so far is the one to stop doing housework - but even that's going to have to give sometime soon.

One of the vague generalisation resolutions I made was to try and read more this year. I read a lot, or so I thought until I tallied up my reading record (the one in the boring spiral bound grey school notebook) It fell far short of what I'd perceived to have read, and yeah, sure, it didn't take into account the short story collections I dip into but haven't read every single one so can't in all honesty write in as completed, or text books, or magazine and journal articles, but all the same, I was disappointed with my effort.

I think part of the problem is when it comes to reading, I am a savourer. I have friends who can polish off a novel in a day, no problem, but do admit to missing out on the intricacies of the language and the careful details. I envy them though, their ability to plough through their book lists and experience all those authors who I would love to read, but am realistic enough to know I will never make the time. I like to chew on the words, roll them around in my mouth and enjoy their flavour before swallowing and moving on to the next morsel.

So how does a savourer train herself to be a bit more of a gorger? I'm open to suggestions here!

My resolution to read more books is off to a shaky start. It's already half way through January and I have opened my first novel this morning. Yes folks, I have been through the entire summer holidays without even opening a book! Part of that was the need for a break, but also, most of the places we stayed at on our holiday didn't have bedside reading lights! I know, what were they thinking?!

This morning I finally opened and have started to read Joanne Drayton's Ngaio Marsh: Her life in Crime. I Brought this book in September, and it's been loitering on my bedside table since then, and finally reached the front of the queue.

I have a lot to read. There's the Ngaio Marsh novels from my Ngaio Marsh challenge. The books I read as research for the Write On radio show, books for reviewing on Dunedin Diary for Channel 9 television. Then there's the pile of books I brought last year and haven't got around to yet. (By the way, does anyone know the average stats for percentage of books actually read in any one person's library?)(Mine would be appalling.) Then there's those temptations you see in the shops and have an overwhelming need to possess, or the books reviewed on blogs that pique your curiousity, let alone the books that you think you should read to be a rounded reader, that everyone kindly refer to as classics.


So wish me luck in my quest to read more. I'm realistic enough to not put an actual number on my target, that's just setting yourself up for failure. But I would like to beat last year's 50ish. (The vagueness due to my belief I must surely have forgotten to record some titles.)

I shall endeavour to up my spead from snail to amble.


Kerrie said...

I actually think part of the speed at which you read a book is linked to the author's style. Some are just quicker reads than others. It does seem a bit unjust to polish off a book within a matter of hours when the author slaved over it for a year or more.
I'm not really a fast reader, just a compulsive one. But I generally manage a couple of books a week. More when I am away from home.

Anonymous said...

Just you wait until the boys get bigger and you get too jaded to have your jandal's worth of input into the various extra-curricular activities. Here's how I've managed to read three books over the past two weeks (warning, ikky alert). An appalling YA NZ novel beside the toilet for those (ahem) longer visits; Steve Irwin biography in the car (came in really useful when: had to wait at central Otago medical centre while friend's child was attended to; had to wait while hubby and youngest took ages to choose evening video; while I sat at the airport while eldest said goodbye to friend and then waited until plane was in the air (that was a good 40 mins!); too hot to sleep so lift one of current dipping books from beside my bed to read... Mostly, it's the waiting time for the children (eg Mackenna needs picking up from work at 6pm - that could MEAN 6pm or 6:10 or 6:15 - great snatches of reading time).
Oh, and the days when the kids are still in bed (just you wait Vanda - there will come a time when you will be dragging them out and it's 11am!) and no one needs me so I stay in PJs and, with cuppa and toast, read.
Something to look forward to in your dotage.

Rachael King said...

Excuse me Vanda, but 50 BOOKS?? How, in any universe, is that slow? That is about one a week. On top of the rest of your life.

I think I read 17 novels/SS collections last year. I don't count all the non-fiction books I dipped into for novel research. And I don't think that's bad going considering everything else going on in my life.

(You're the only person I know who resolves to do LESS housework)

The Paradoxical Cat said...

Never underestimate a snail. They can cover a lot of ground while the hare and the tortoise are left behind squabbling!

Funny you should talk about snails, I just met one this weekend, thanks to the torrential rain...

Law and Order said...

There are books that take me 1-2 days to read - pageturners, thrilling, enjoyable reads. There are the other pageturners too, but slowly, allowing me to savour (like you, Vanda) a word, a sentence, the language. They tend to take me longer to read. This is of course dependent on other factors like time and what's happening around me. And that's amazing - 50 books! Oh, I so admire you.

Vanda Symon said...

OK, maybe my tally's not so bad afterall.

I keep thinking, even if I sped up my reading say 10 percent, that's potentially another 5 books I could sneak in a year. Trouble is, I try to do this and find myself lapsing back to standard pace. Damn it, words shouldn't be so alluring and interesting.

Rachael - believe me it is easy to resolve to do less housework, only trouble is, no one else in the household is prepared to take up the slack (-: