Our culture is obsessed with time and speed. Just look at the “quantified self” movement. I think tracking and gamification are fine if they lead to better habits, but too much of a focus on quantifying every aspect of life leads (at least for me) to exhaustion and mental hyperactivity.
I’ve lately found this hyperactivity seeping into my personal reading. My personal reading is supposed to serve as a break from assigned reading and other schoolwork while still expanding my mind (and providing a wealth of blog topics), but I find myself stressed about it. How foolish! This reading is supposed to be fun!
In part, I blame excellent reading lists from sites such as Farnam Street, James Clear, and Ryan Holiday. When I compare my progress to the number of books these people have read, I think, “I’m a failure at reading…Got to read faster, got to keep up!”
But that’s the wrong mindset.
What I want is to read the most of the best books in the best possible way.
And that way is slowly.
I was reminded of the value of slow reading when I read this post from Deborah Hart of Upside Down Reading. It came right at a time when I was rushing to read at least two books at once. I realized that in this rush I was concerned with completion, not satisfaction; I was worried about the outcome instead of enjoying the process. This is not a way to live, let alone a way to read.
I was going to do a bunch of research for this article about the benefits of slow reading and slowing down, but I think this article from the SF Gate is all you need. The author points out that you shouldn’t read slowly just for auxiliary benefits, but rather for the sheer pleasure of drinking in a book luxuriously, like hot tea or coffee first thing in the morning.
So what are you waiting for? Stop reading this post and start reading a book.
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Photo Credit: The Caye Caulker motto via Wikimedia Commons