don't speed read

what's better than reading?  reading a lot.  reading a ton.  reading so much you can't help but rattle off how many books you've devoured, which are next in line, and how your words-per-minute rate has exponentially increased.


speed reading is the fad diet of the literary world: extreme, unsustainable, shallow.  sure, there's instant gratification, but it's all breadth and no depth.  

you know the expression, "it can be good, fast, or cheap. pick two."?  the speed reading version is, "it can be quick or correct.  pick one."

the tradeoff between speed and accuracy is real.  irrefutably, retention goes out the window as speed increases.  so it all comes down to what do you want?  to yap about how many books you've read in the past six months, or the ability to intelligently discuss them?  

that said, there are a few ways to prime your reading experience to get the most out of a book.  first, do your research.  before you start, read the writer's biography, press interviews, and glance at anything else they've written.

then move to all the "short stuff" within the book: summary, introduction (especially if it's not by the author), conclusion, table of contents, and index.  i also read the "praise" excerpts in the front, since they're usually by writers in the same genre.  they provide future reading recommendations and blogs to follow.

these steps can be the difference between reviewing the assembly instructions of IKEA furniture or tearing the cardboard box to shreds and assembling like mad, only to end up with the particle board sides of your nightstand facing outward.  not that i'd know...

here's where i'm supposed to share quotes from fiction i've been gobbling recently.  except...i haven't read enough novels to have a good selection.  i started Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon earlier this week, but so far my only highlights are character descriptions to help me keep track of everyone.  optimism gone wrong!  instead, here are novels i'm in line for from the library:

have you read them?  are you reading anything good?  what's your view on speed reading?  tell me in the comments!