Bookplate used by Theodore Roosevelt
for his personal library
"My library has been the greatest possible pleasure to me, [Theodore Roosevelt] wrote to his parents during his freshman year [at Harvard], "as whenever I have any spare time I can immediately take up a book."
---from The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin
It is said that Mr. Roosevelt read a book a day...before breakfast! In the evenings, when things in the White House (where he lived from 1901 to 1909) were quiet, he read another book or two plus magazines and newspapers.
Speed reading, anyone?
I once took a class in speed reading. It ruined me. It made reading too much like work, gave me a headache, and I had absolutely zero comprehension of what I had read. I soon went back to my normal pace. I am the type of reader who Reads Every Word. It is my one weakness (as Candleford's Postmistress Dorcas Lane would say).
As much as I like the idea of gobbling up books, I find that forcing my eyes to tear across lines of text takes away all the enjoyment of reading for me.
In 2009, the blog "The Art of Manliness" (which has some great information that is not only for men) had a post on Mr. Roosevelt's reading habits and some tips on increasing one's reading speed. You can read the entry, slowly or quickly, here: Speed Reading.
What about you, dear reader. Have you tried speed reading? Did you have any success? Do you consider yourself a slow reader or a fast reader? Have you ever calculated the number of words you read per minute? Does your reading speed matter to you?
I'm a pretty fast reader...but if the book is more challenging I definitely have to slow down or I'm going to miss something important. In elementary schools these days, there is too much emphasis on reading so many word per minute; the important thing is loving what you read. Not how fast you read it. Speed reading is definitely not for me. (Although it would have been nice in college with some of those long-winded and boring texts.)ReplyDelete
Hi, Lark. I can scan some webpage content and breeze through a paragraph or two in a book but as for any prolonged 'speed' I am not up to the task. I can understand emphasizing speed as there is so much information on so many 'screens' that one can quickly get left behind. I, however, like where I am.Delete
I don't know about formal speed-reading, but there was one book I read last year that didn't grab me at all and I just wanted to *finish*, so I was scanning pretty quickly. But still reading, I guess, as I know what happened! I can't see much fun in speed-reading for pleasure though. ;-)ReplyDelete
Vicki, I do scan a graph or two sometimes, but cannot keep up the pace for long. I guess I am afraid I will miss something! I suppose if I had professional journals or the like to keep up with, I would do more quick reading, but I am of the opinion that enjoyable reading comes with slow reading.Delete
I've never tried speed reading because for me that would be beside the point. I want to savor the language and imagery, immerse myself in the words, and take pleasure from them. I do consider myself a fairly fast reader though, but speed only matters to me in that I can read more books if I'm not too slow!ReplyDelete
Your reference to Dorcas reminds me that I want to read those books after seeing the enjoyable series on DVD.
Ah, yes, Kathy. Ms. Dorcas is a favorite of mine. I too have the Candleford books on my list. I loved watching the series on DVD.Delete
I calculated my Words Per Minute rate using a guide I found online and am sorry to say I didn't score very well. Perhaps because I used a dense, non-fiction book for my 'test'. Oh, well, I will most likely just continue poking along and enjoying the journey.
This is an interesting subject. While plowing through Proust's "In Search of Lost Time" I recall wondering about my pace through volume 1 "Swann's Way" and if I would ever finish the six volumes. I soon discovered (page 20?) that I really didn't care as the sheer joy of the words (and very long sentences) were the whole experience, the not the story as there isn't really much of a story. Its a page turner due to its beauty and is to be savoured as are so many books. In fact I recall going off on a week long tangent researching some of the artwork discussed, furthermore I ended up acquiring more books that gave background to Proust's use of art and theatre, attention to the words is demanded. So speed reading for one who relishes and needs to "Read Every Word" I am happy in my plodding and deliberate slowness. There may be a use for "speed reading" but I love my books too much to inflict that slight on them or even suggest it.
So well put, Tullik."I soon discovered that I really didn't care as the sheer joy of the words (and very long sentences) were the whole experience," Isn't it wonderful to let ourselves relish and savor and yes, go off onto tangents. I learn a lot from tangents.Delete
When I was in 5th grade, in 1961, my school experimented with speed reading with my class. We were taught to speed read but were never required to use it. I'm a little surprised because I went to a small school in a small town in Pennsylvania. There is a liberal arts college there, so maybe someone from there was instrumental in choosing us for guinea pigs.ReplyDelete
Despite knowing how to speed read, I, like you, read every word. If the author took the time to write it, I feel I should read it. Most of the time. But I do wish I could read a book a day.
How odd, Joan, that the school would spend the time teaching you speed reading and then not reinforce it. Oh, well. You found your own speed and that is what matters. Wouldn't it be lovely to read a book a day. Wow!Delete
I smiled at your reference to our friend and postmistress, Dorcas.ReplyDelete
I haven't tried speed reading, and likely won't at this stage of my life. I'm okay with how I read, and tend to savor the words. I have a friend who speed read, and she is always missing major points on our book discussion reads.
Penny, I do think Our Dorcas would frown on speed reading.Delete
How funny about your speed-reading book club friend. I am surprised she hasn't caught on by now that she is missing something. Perhaps she speed listens during the discussions...
Mostly I just read and let it happen at some unmeasured speed. I do find that I read fast or slow depending on the book. If the plot is exciting or the dialog is funny I tend to go too fast and sometimes miss some important clue or action. OTOH when the author has challenging ideas or great language I like to go back and forth, often repeating a passage a time or two.ReplyDelete
I know what you mean about reading too fast and missing things. That happens to me too and then I have to go back and figure out where I lost the thread. I guess we who read for pleasure just let our speed depend on the book. Enjoy the journey.Delete