~ 28 April 2005 ~

A Few Thoughts on Reading

Those of you with children are probably aware that one’s habits of personal study tend to be affected upon the arrival of the little one(s). In my case, the birth of our son caused my rate of reading to take a drastic downturn, especially in the first month. Now that things are beginning to settle down a little (he’s almost 5 months old now), I’m reevaluating my reading habits in hopes of making them more effective.

Speed. In general, when it comes to books I’m a painfully slow reader. There are only a few genres in which I can speed-read with good comprehension. Technical works, theology, philosophy, and light fiction I can speed-read with much effort. When it comes to biography, history, serious fiction, and most monographs, I am a literary turtle.

Volume. For many years, I’ve had the habit of reading five to six books concurrently, thereby extending the time it takes to completely read a book by a factor of, well, five to six. No matter how many times I’ve tried to break this somewhat annoying habit, I always seem to pick up another book and start it in the midst of reading another. Case in point: the “Books I’m Reading” list on the sidebar of this blog currently lists two books—in reality there are at least four that I’m working on.

Perseverance. I find it very hard to put a book away once I’ve started it—no matter how bad, boring, or tedious the book may be. There’s just something in me that says I must finish. For the most part, this has been helpful, as it has forced me to look at things in which I wouldn’t ordinarily be interested. On the other hand, such a mentality could lead to great wastes of time.

Questions for the blogosphere. What are your reading habits? Do you read quickly, or turtle-esqe? How many books do you read at a time? Should you always finish a book you don’t like, or should you let it die its proper death on the shelf? Your thoughts are appreciated.

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  1. Patrick Bowerman » 28 April 2005:

    Hey Jared, It sounds like you have the same reading problem that I do…I tend to read too many books at the same time. I enjoy reading, but while in Seminary, I find it hard to read anything except the assigned material until the semester ends. My problem is that I can’t read theology and biographies very fast; on the other hand, I can sometimes read an entire fiction book in a day. It really depends on the writing style, but I tend to blow through them a lot faster. Recently, I have tried to limit myself to just reading one book at a time, and it has helped me to enjoy the read more and not feel like I am under an unending heap of books. I also haven’t had much trouble passing bad books. If I don’t care for it, I usually put it aside and I may pick it back up later. The Hobbit is one such example…I hated it when I was younger, but before the movies came out I picked it up and read it in two nights; Tom Clancy’s stuff is middle ground for me. I really enjoy his stuff, but it usually takes time to build up steam. I have found that when I press through his books, I usually am satisfied at the outcome. Anyways, thanks for the post and have a good week.

  2. Michael » 30 April 2005:

    When I read blogs, I tend to read very fast, until I find something worth reading, then I read at an average pace.

    Nice blog, by the way.

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