This may be a bit of a rambling post. 🙂 This week there’s been a good discussion at Silvia’s blog about re-considering reading goals, book challenges, and more. And Silvia also wrote another post about poetry that got me thinking about my reading habits. I, too, have recently been thinking about what my reading goals initially were at the beginning of the year, and have been considering dropping my reading challenge. I get so excited in December when the book challenges come out and it is really hard to resist not joining in. Silvia put it so well when she described it as a “momentum” and seeing all the possibilities of book choices lying ahead of us in the new year. But recently, for some reason, I have been feeling a bit boxed in with my reading challenge. Like I need to make sure I get those categories completed and maybe that might mean I have to set aside other books I might want to read to do so. It’s silly really I guess….because the reading challenge doesn’t have to be that. It can be a fun way to gather inspiration for new titles. But being a task-oriented person sometimes, I think I’ve begun to be task-oriented with my reading challenge….. I think because maybe deciding to *do* a reading challenge makes a difference for me versus just looking at reading challenges but not trying to necessarily *do* them.
Anyway, thinking about all this has got me thinking about why I read and the pace at which I read books sometimes. Reading Silvia’s post about poetry also got me thinking about re-reading and the benefits of that.
I read for enjoyment. But I also like to stretch myself to read books I feel it would be good for me to read at some point. Like certain classics that I may not particular *want* to read but know it would be good to read them because they are so widely known and maybe referenced a lot – like The Iliad and The Odyssey for example. I never read these in high school and so I’m reading The Iliad right now. I don’t particular like it a whole lot, but I think it’s good for me to read it. It stretches me as a reader. A lot of ancient literature (including epic poetry) tends to be that way for me. It can be challenging for me to read but I know it can help me grow as a reader.
Another reason I read is to learn. And this year, one of my goals is to read more memoirs, biographies, and other non-fiction books like history and science. I also want to incorporate more essays and short stories and plays.
I also like to read a book on a whim if I find a book that grabs my interest. And I like to read in community if I can because I need to discuss books.
Regarding reading habits, I was thinking about a quote Silvia had in her post from the book she read called Lectures on Literature by Nabokov. I haven’t read this book. You can read more of Silvia’s thoughts on it at her blog. Anyway, she included the following quote from Nabokov in her post:
“Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a rereader.”
This quote reminded me of something Adler said in his book How to Read a Book. One of the things Adler discusses in this book is different levels of reading. Concerning one of the levels he calls inspectional reading Adler says:
“…most people, even many quite good readers, are unaware of the value of inspectional reading. They start a book on page one and plow steadily through it, without even reading the table of contents. They are thus faced with the task of achieving a superficial knowledge of the book at the same time that they are trying to understand it.” (pg. 19)
“Skimming or pre-reading is the first sub-level of inspectional reading. Your main aim is to discover whether the book requires a more careful reading.” (pg. 32)
After the inspectional reading – where you discover what type of book it is, what it’s about, etc. – there’s what Adler calls analytical reading. About this he says:
“Analytical reading is thorough reading, complete reading, or good reading…the best and most complete reading that is possible given unlimited time.”(pg. 19)
Of course Adler says a lot more about these levels of reading; but these particular things stood out to me.
First, let me say regarding these quotes from How to Read a Book that I think that maybe this may not apply across the board for fiction. However, I do think there could be many fiction books these principles could apply to. What do you think? I’m thinking about a book like Wuthering Heights. I can totally see the benefit of more than one reading for this book. The first reading gives you the story-line and how it ends and is like an introduction. Then the next time around, I imagine one could pick up on more in the novel because it is such a complex book.
I know, this is a winding rabbit trail… LOL Anyway, these various quotes have me thinking about re-reading though. How I have a tendency sometimes to plow through some books that maybe are ones that I would benefit more from a slower reading and maybe even a re-reading. I am not typically a re-reader. And if I do re-read a book, you know I must have REALLY liked it. There are just so many books I want to read. And you know, maybe sometimes re-reading feels like time I could be spending reading another book on my To-Be-Read list. But I do see the benefits of re-reading; and maybe I need to make more room in my reading life for it.
As far as slow vs. fast reading pace, I don’t think it has to be one way or the other. I think it can be both. I do think that some books are just quick reading books. And sometimes I just can’t resist reading quickly to find out how the book ends! And that’s OKAY! But books that are meant to stretch me as a reader or books I’m reading to learn and grow, maybe those are more the books for me to put in that category of slower reading. And possibly re-reading. In the end, I just don’t think I will tend to re-read lots of books. But I would like to grow in that area and make more time for re-reading.
So these are my rambling book thoughts recently. What do YOU think about reading pace and re-reading? Have you been re-evaluating your reading goals for this year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!