Friday, August 28, 2015

Reading Speeds and Skimming

Last year, I was in a book club during a weekly read period at my school (We read The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, in case you're interested). I sat with one of my good friends, and when we had some time to read during the club, she was shocked at how fast I was reading. "She's read thirty pages in the same time it took me to read ten!" Or something of that sort. In a forty-five minute read period, I usually read about seventy pages. That's about 1.5 pages a minute (if I'm doing the math right!).

I don't know that this classifies me as a speed reader exactly, but I do know that I tend to read more quickly than some people I know. Here's the secret: I do read very fast, but I also tend to skim passages. Not a lot, and not enough that I miss essential details, but sometimes I have to go back to remember a character's name--"Okay, who's talking now?" Maybe when things go so fast, it's easier for things to slip through my grasp.

My question is, does this count? If I skim, did I read it? I think I get the main ideas, and I certainly enjoy the books. However, I have been noticing lately that as I rate a book on Goodreads, I'll mark it, then look at some of the reviews, and take away one of the stars I gave it. It seems skimming makes it easier for me to overlook flaws in the narrative or characterization. Or maybe that's the speed (or at least quick) reading--If you go really fast, you don't have to dwell on mistakes, do you?

(Note: That last sentence really only works in the context of reading. Don't try that while driving.)

I like to read fast, because I get to read more. I think it does count as reading, since I've found some of my favorite books this way. And maybe if I overlook some problems, that's a good thing. It gives things a kind of rosy glow. While I try to avoid this, it sure does make things look nice.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Vacation Reads

This summer (which, sadly, comes to an end on Tuesday) I went to the beach on vacation, and can you guess what I'm most proud of? Not my nonexistent tan--although I was a lovely shade of crimson for a few days. The pile of books I was able to read. I read twelve books in ten days, and they were--for the most part--wonderful. Here's a quick overview.


The Princess Bride by William Goldman--This is my sister's favorite book. She's been telling me to read it for years, and I've been wanting to read it for years. However, I was always intimidated by the triple threat of small-type-small-pages-thick-spine. I thought it would take me forever to get through it. Instead, I flew through it, loving every word. 

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray--I read this every year at the beach. It's about beauty pageant contestants who get stranded on a desert island, but really it's about feminism (the way it should be: meaning that everyone gets equal respect) and the fact that you don't have to reject femininity to be a strong woman. Plus, it's got pirates, a secret government operation, and commercial breaks. What could be better?