I once read somewhere that President George Bush (whatever the younger one was. Is it G. W., G.H.W. or just G.?) had stated that he had read something like 95 books in one year. I did the math; that’s around eight books a month. There was something in the same article that mentioned that he was competing with someone else to see who could read the most number of books that year. Whatever. If you want to see who’s better, just throw some gloves on, get in a rink and go at it. That’s how war’s get started. It seems that hundreds of thousands of people die in wars all because there’s that one guy that presses the button because he wants to say “my cock is bigger.”
Okay, sorry, I’m digressing. Where was I? Ah yes, books.
I’m not the fastest reader in the world. That declarative sentence is an easy one for me. I have no desire, really, to rush through a book. I don’t like to trudge through it either. I just want to enjoy it. Unless I’m reading something for work, I’m taking my time. That’s all there is to it. Unless it’s for an assignment, what’s the point of rushing though fiction? On the other hand, there are people who naturally zip through books. That’s cool too. Whatever your leisurely speed of reading is, it’s perfect and exactly where you’re supposed to be.
There are points in our lives where cursory glances at paragraphs or articles have their uses. It is in this regard that I may have jumped to a conclusion or two when mentioning the presidential literary cock fight. After all, from what I understand, these cats do have a rather extensive scope of responsibility. Being the one individual that answers for matters of an entire country is a pretty big bullet. It would make sense that they know their job and all. But if that’s the case, I’m assuming that you’ll be a bit busy to read eight books a month. I wonder how much of the information from those 90+ books they retained. I mean, I only speak from experience, but when I take my time, I learn and understand. When I don’t take my time, nothing goes right. It’s like cutting off mid-stream.
See? There I go jumping the gun again.
For those interested, there’s a fine book, ironic as it may seem, called How to Read a Book, by Mortimer Adler. The guy’s name is Mortimer. Seriously, how sweet is that? In it, Adler discusses that the reading of a book is not always circumscribed by the mere act of starting at one cover and going to the other by passing one’s eyes over every word in between. The book comprises three main types of reading: structural reading, interpretive reading and critical reading. According to Adler, in its most superficial sense, the reading of a book could be a matter of simply reading the covers and, (if the reader desires) the preface, table of contents, index, etc. In its most profound sense, the reading of a book would entail the reader to engage in a conversation with the author, using a pen to ask questions in the margins of each page and/or chapter as a way to question the author’s motives, background, research and information. It’s done as a way to find out whether the reader will accept or reject what he/she has read. The deeper readings, of course, would apply more to non-fiction works than they would to fiction.
To me, fiction, regardless of the genre, is leisure. Whether one selects a work by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Stephen King, Fyodor Dostoyevsky or any of the others in the pantheon greats past or present, when the work is chosen for enjoyment, (and we all have different ideas of what that is, naturally) it’s worth the read. Again, one may be reading for an assignment (and that goes for non-fiction as well), and any reading that is done against one’s own volition promises to leave an other-than-pleasurable aftertaste.
You don’t have to race. If you’re a slow reader, enjoy being slow; you’re not racing anyone. If you’re a fast reader, get the heck out of here; this is the slow reader’s room.
Read what pleases you and enjoy the ride.