Books, Habits

Books + reading speed

I’m currently reading 3 books. Which is probably not that smart of me, because I seem to have a hard enough time getting through 1 book in a reasonable amount of time. (Because, as outlined in this other post, I guess I just prioritize other things.)

But I do actually love to read. And I DO read almost every day; I just might only read for 10-15 minutes a day.

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

1. Outlive by Peter Attia

I actually bought the Kindle version before my flight to Texas and borrowed Asher’s Kindle!

Kindle reading is a brand-new experience for me. It’s…. growing on me? A little different at first, and I’m apparently a bit uncoordinated with this particular touch screen (I feel like I accidentally turn the page too often? Or have a hard time getting back to the menu sometimes.). But it’s sure convenient!! And it really does feel very “book like”.

This book is not a quick and easy read for me- it’s got some “sciencey” parts which I like to slow down and think about. Fascinating though so far. I’ve listened to Peter Attia talk about the book on several podcasts, so I already know the general gist. Enjoying it though!

2. Beneath a Scarlet Sky

This was my work book club choice for last month. And, I didn’t get it in time/ finish it… so I ended up skipping the book club meeting. I still wanted to read it because it sounded good- a WWII era historical fiction. I’m maybe half-way, and it is very good!

3. The Overstory

This book is my May work book club choice. It’s THICK and also not a slow read!! It’s beautifully written but definitely reads like “literature” and is not a quick, fluffy read. Guaranteed I won’t finish this one either before the meeting…. 😩 I am a book club failure. 😩

Reading Speed

I know there have been posts/ debates/ discussion about reader types: skimmers vs. read every word people. (I think I might have written about this before? Oh well, going to again, because it’s been on my mind.)

I am a self-proclaimed “read every word-er” (when reading for pleasure), which definitely slows me down.

This is okay with me, though. Now, this is very much a “to each their own” thing, so I’m not saying my way is the right way.

But I recently heard something about people + reading + how researchers are finding that we actually read differently on a screen. The patterns and the way that our brains interpret the text has been changing over time, with the increase of on-screen reading over the past years. And apparently this might be spilling over into all reading, and there may be some negative outcomes (according to this source). As in, I guess our brains might not get the same benefits from reading and retaining in this super quick/ skimming style that people tend to do when scanning online articles, posts, etc., as compared with old-fashioned print reading styles of the olden days.

*I can’t find where I heard this!! I think it was on a podcast… if I can remember and find it, I will link it! I think it had to do with kids + the move to so many online texts for school.*

I personally read on-screen for work all the time– and most of it is “skimming”. (I have to read a LOT of medical notes, charts, reports etc as part of my Data Analyst/ Quality nurse role.) My eyes have to flit over the page, scanning for certain things.

Maybe it’s because I grow tired of this constant disjointed scroll-reading I do for work, but when I read for pleasure, I actually usually make a point to SLOOOOOW way down and deliberately read the sentences carefully.

Yes, it takes longer. But to me, it feels delightful. Why do we need to be in such a rush all the time, that we have to race through a page of a book, or an article, or a post?? Why do we have to only read like, 1/2 the words? Presumably the author wished for us to read all of the words… that’s why he or she wrote them, no?

Whichever “team” you’re on here, I challenge you to read at least one page or one article or blog post today where you slow down and carefully read each word. Report back on how it feels. 🙂 I think it feels luxurious. And it also feels…. calming. Like a real escape from all the hurried scrolling and scanning, always rushing to get to the end of the page, the article, the post. It feels vey different, too!

I think I’d personally rather read fewer books or fewer posts and articles but in a more controlled, intentional, enjoyable manner, vs. “half” reading lots of things in a more scattered way. Quality > Quantity. But maybe this is just me!! 😉 And it’s totally okay if you think I’m nuts. 🙂

Anyone know what I mean or agree with me?? Anyone??! 😉

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful for knowing how to play the piano. Quick side story- Gretchen Rubin posted a question on her instagram page yesterday asking, “What is the one thing you now, as an adult, wish your parents had forced you to learn when you were a kid?” There were like, hundreds of responses, and it was hilarious, because literally every other answer was “to play the piano!!” Not joking, it was at least 50% of the answers, if not much more. People were even commenting, “Lol, look how many people wish they could play the piano!! 😂” The second most common answer was “to speak Spanish”. I was like, man, I did good!! I can play the piano and I can speak Spanish. Made me also want to show Ethan, who DOES play the piano beautifully, but doesn’t seem too passionate about it or to really appreciate it and I think mostly just wishes I’d let him quit. Maybe if he sees all these responses from adults who WISH they could play, he’ll feel differently?? ha. He’s 14. Not likely…

10 thoughts on “Books + reading speed”

  1. Outlive is on my TBR. I’m hoping it goes on sale on kindle, because being overseas I don’t have access to a library right now. I do have plenty of reading to last me, but it is hard when new books come out. I’m sure I could buy it though if I really want to read it.

    I don’t think I am a super slow reader, but in general I read for enjoyment, so I don’t rush. I could probably read more if I snatched all the little bits of time I have, but I don’t really enjoy reading for 5 minutes at a time (unless I am toward the end of a suspenseful book or something). I’m reading Thursday Murder Club right now and it has really short chapters, which does make it easier to read in short bursts.

    I actually prefer to read 2-4 books at a time. Sometimes it is nice to have a fiction book last longer and for non-fiction to have time for me to think about it. I read 4000 weeks in one day and now I kind of want to re-read it more slowly so I can process it better.


  2. Book clubs are so tricky, especially when the reading material is dense or long. I feel like long books should get an extra month.

    I only tend to skim when I feel like I have to read something AND it’s not something I’m particularly interested in. Like a book a friend has raved about and is not my jam — I’ll end up skimming it, so I can say I read it, because I know how pleasing it is to recommend a book and have someone follow through with that suggestion. But otherwise I’m a read-every-worder. Since I am interested in writing, I read both for pleasure and to study the craft, so seeing how a sentence is put together or how dialogue flows are part of the joy and instruction of reading for me.


  3. You know where I fall on this spectrum – I am a SKIM reader for almost everything. Even a book I adore, I will rarely read every word. I read in paragraph chunks and will actually look at a paragraph and flit my eyes all around it top to bottom diagonally, but then crisscross back and forth. It’s hard to describe, but it’s just…how I read!

    I mostly love reading on my e-reader, but it IS a different experience for sure. I read a book this week that I didn’t love and think I would have liked it a lot more in a paper book because the formatting was such that it didn’t necessarily translate well to the digital screen. Right now my vision is crummy post-eye surgery, so the e-reader is great for letting me zoom in as needed, though.


  4. i’ve read 2/3 of overstory and still don’t get a sense what it is about. maybe I should start again and be more patient.
    my reading life has been messy lately which is fine. totally camp of quality over quantify, reading is a hobbie and should be enjoyable. not in a rush to finish with a record number of books this year.


  5. I know what you mean!! I definitely have to skim a lot of stuff daily (emails, reports, etc.) but I am usually very much a “read every word” reader when it comes to “personal” reading… although with all the digital reading (as in blogs and online articles) , it often comes down to font/font size for me (this is why I love to be able to read in a “reader” where I can select which font/size the text is in. Do you feel that makes a difference for you?


  6. I love reading but it only fits into the slot right before bed, so you and I spend about the same amount of time reading.

    I’m shameless about skimming. Mostly it’s because I like the book but it’s not a 10 so I’m speeding up to see what happened. Every once in a while I get a really great book and then I’ll slow down and drink in every word.


  7. My reading speed and style depend on the book.
    Non-fiction: unless it’s very, very interesting and reads like a novel (i.e. Evicted by M Desmond) I skim and scan and skip.
    Novels: I read every word UNLESS it’s unbearable. If it’s unbearable then I give u on the book and move on.


  8. I also read three books at a time — one audio, one ebook and one hardcopy. I do not skim but I do not read slow; I am a fast reader but I do read every word. Sometimes if it is a non-fiction, I do slow down so I can learn things; I think to learn and absorb facts I do need to sometimes read or reread things. However, when I listen to an audiobook I do it on 1.75x speed, unless the narrator is very slow (president Obama, Reese Witherspoon) and then I bump it to 2x. So I guess I am “skimming” audiobooks?!

    Also, I have not read Outlive and will wait for your review to put it on my TBR, but I did read the Scarlet Sky and it was okay, and I DNFed the Overstory. I felt that it crawled and was weird and I could not get past the first chapter or so.


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