This a funny fact about me, mostly because I used to be such a reading champ. In case you didn’t know, “reading champ”* indicates prestige in all aspects of reading. During my elementary school years, I should’ve worn this title on a goddamn crown. I was the fiercely devoted “librarian” of my classroom’s book shelves; I treated weekly trips to the library like pilgrimages; I started a book club with my friends. Was I a fast reader? You fucking bet. I had to be in order to read 50 Newbery books, earning me a luncheon with school staff, various waterbottles, bookmarks, and overall primary-school-prestige.
And what about now, you ask? Now I can probably be classified as a reading loser. I neglected books during my middle school year and continue to do so as a highschooler. It took me a while to realize that my “champ” status was dead, but it soon become apparent as my peers swallowed up book trilogies or reading assignments in mere minutes while the same task took me weeks and weeks. I don’t think that I’ve become slower at reading–I think that I have maintained my pre-teen speed, which was quite fast for that age group, and never bothered to quicken when others met and surpassed my pace.
I definitely still enjoy reading very much. The list below accurately explains why I am so slow at it.
Reasons I Read Slowly
- I CAN’T GO ON.
Whenever a string of words hold the slightest weight of emotion, I can’t go on because the letters on the page start to blur. Yeah, I’m a big crier. A dramatic one, too. An average sob-fest consists of me throwing myself away from the offending book, blubbering into a pillow, and gasping about the unfairness of it all. Definitely delays me by a couple of minutes at least, unless the plot demands me to continue (while whimpering and wiping away tears).
- Re-read, Re-read, Re-read Again.
When there’s a particular passage that I like a lot, I often tend to reread it, just to soak it in and absorb those perfect words. And to relive the context of that beautiful paragraph, I read the whole page. Maybe the whole chapter. Do you see why completing books takes me so long? I also tend to reread parts that give me a lot of emotions. See reason 1.
- Zoning out
Maybe it’s because highschool requires more complicated and old books to be read, but recently I can often find myself reach the bottom of a page and be like: what!?
There’s a Roald Dahl Matilda quote that goes like “Don’t worry about the bits you can’t understand. Sit back and allow the words to wash around you, like music.” Unfortunately, when I don’t get a part of a book, no matter how small, I get pretty anxious about it. What if it’s important? What if it’s a vital piece that I’ll need to understand something later? And so, welcome to reason 2.
- Terrible Reading-Stamina
Hopefully you were able to relate somewhat to the above reasons, but this one is so weird and impractical that I fear it’s just me. When I was younger, I would put down a book at ZERO COSTS. I would carry a novel with me to the bathroom if I had to. Presently, I couldn’t be further from the opposite. When I finish a chapter, I feel an odd tendency to stop reading. Sometimes if the chapter was emotional (again, embarrassingly, reason 1), I feel drained enough to take a break. Sometimes I try to reason to myself, the author wants me to stop reading here, as a weak excuse to be distracted by iPhone games or my laptop instead of reading. In other words, the greatest inhibitor to my reading rate is how I can’t read for long periods of time like I used to. It’s as if I genuinely want to exercise, but I have to stop and catch my breath after a pitifully short jog. Hopefully, I can rebuild that stamina so I can read as much as I want to again. Because, frankly, it’s probably a sin to consider myself a writer if I don’t read that much. Can any other fellow writers and readers relate? I’d love to hear from you.
*“Reading champ” is obviously a dumb term that I made up just now. Do not quote me on this, haha.