Slow Reading

I have a confession to make. I’m back on Goodreads.

I know I went on and on about my love/hate relationship with it here. And then explained why I was leaving it here (I’m back on Facebook, too, ha). And those reasons are still valid.

But I found out that I just like Goodreads. I have fun on it. And getting caught up in a TBR or yearly reading goal are things that I need to control. I need to make the choice to not participate in aspects that don’t serve me and stick by those choices. It’s not the responsibility of the website to make sure I don’t get overwhelmed. The website exists to offer lots of ways to enable readers to enjoy reading. Leaving the entire community because certain things didn’t work well for me seems a bit extreme now.

Reading tracker website or not, I’m still trying to enjoy “slow reading”. Slow reading is a “movement” similar to slow food, slow fashion, etc. It’s easy for me to get caught up in the more-is-better attitude when it comes to reading books. Reading books is good for me and I like it, so it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that more would be better. But as I’ve learned with minimalism, that’s not always the case.

I’ve learned that it wasn’t Goodreads’ fault that I felt bogged down by TBR lists or stressed out by reading goals. I was doing it to myself. I felt like I should be reading all the time, whenever I got the chance. I would try to finish books I wasn’t enjoying just to check it off my list. I was listening to audiobooks while working, hindering me from truly focusing on either. I would read classics on my phone, basically torturing myself, instead of letting my mind wander for 10 or 15 minutes.

But this year I have tried to read more slowly. Not necessarily slower word-by-word, but not rushing through books, either. It can be a challenge, so I need to be mindful and guided. I’ve made a few rules for myself:

  1. Only read 1 book at a time. For a little while I let myself read one and listen to another at the same time, but then even that felt like too much…
  2. Do not listen to audiobooks. Over the years, I’ve come around to audiobooks, especially when they’re read well (that can really make or break an audiobook). But I am not the type of person to just sit and listen to an audiobook. I want to be doing something else at the same time and that goes against why I want to embrace slow reading. I’d rather just sit and read the book myself, focusing on one thing at a time and immersing myself in it.
  3. Be choosier about what I read. Only read things I’m truly excited about, when I’m truly excited about it.
  4. Abandon books that loose my interest. I actually don’t even think I’ve had to do this since embracing #3. Often I will finish a book I’m not loving, but only if there is something, anything, that still holds my interest, not just because I feel I have to.
  5. Don’t compare myself to other readers. I used to try to keep up with the word-by-word speed of my husband, but it was moot. Besides, without comparing, I feel quite comfortable at the rate I digest books. I don’t look at other people’s reading goal progress. I don’t try to keep up with what everyone else is reading. I enjoy reading most when I read for myself. It’s my pleasure.
  6. Take my time. A generality of slow reading. I don’t rush through just to get to the next one. I don’t read if I don’t feel like reading. I don’t worry if reading a book takes me 4 days or 4 weeks.
  7. Don’t hold back. If a book grabs my attention and doesn’t let go, I will read as much as I can whenever I can because wow. What an experience. Sometimes I just can’t help myself from devouring a story. A rare gem amongst thousands of beautiful stones.
  8. Reread whatever, whenever I want. It slows reading progress down by backing up to re-experience, re-appreciate, and re-ponder. It doubles (or triples or quadruples or…) time spent on a particular book, and usually multiplies the enjoyment and impact of the book just as much.

These rules won’t fit everyone, obviously. But they are working pretty well for me right now, especially numbers 1, 3, and 6. Though I still need practice and to remind myself that reading isn’t a race, books aren’t checkboxes. Reading is a pleasure; It deserves my composed attention.

Remember: More isn’t always better. Better is better.

Cheers!

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