Heather Villa is a freelance writer and the author of past Tip #150. You can find her at her website, Heather Villa Writers, and on Twitter. Enjoy!
Words to Savor
The power of written words, nestled within a series of ideas is hopefully never overlooked. Unfortunately, written words aren’t always received in the manner authors intend to convey. The blame doesn’t necessarily fall to the author. A voracious reader, recklessly whizzing through sentences, may sacrifice absorbing the essence of words and ideas.
Let’s look at the evolution of a fast reader who transformed into a slow reader.
A nine year old girl awarded a blue ribbon for the most books read over the course of summer, continued to receive reading contest awards year after year.
Eventually, she was introduced to the classics, and her teachers assured her that she was prepared to succeed in college. After all, she was one of the top students in the college preparatory English class and gladly read whatever was assigned.
Later, as a university student, she regularly and hastily raced against the rising sun, barely realizing that the required reading was obviously too much to properly digest. Her reading pace accelerated on the night that she consumed an entire pot of black coffee while skimming through a 500 page novel about European history, never taking a moment to appreciate the author’s research or the book’s literary merit. A few hours later, she was too tired to adequately contribute to the history class discussion.
The temptation to recklessly read continued after graduation, especially when she only had a precious window of time to call her own. During a daily bus commute, the former student read novels for pleasure with such intensity, that sometimes her heart raced, as she tried to finish a chapter before the bus reached her final destination.
After the woman’s daughter was born, novels were replaced by parenting books and picture books. With a toddler by her side, the new mother regularly perused the local library’s children’s section in search for brilliant books, carefully selecting the perfect read, enjoyable to both parent and child. When the mother slowly read books out loud to her child, something amazing happened. The woman’s internal reading speed seemed to recalibrate.
The former speed reader recognized that she felt relaxed when she read slowly and she yearned to leisurely read more books. She started to slowly read the words in books, magazines, blogs, and newspapers, wondering how much she previously missed. Then the woman decided to read a book that she disliked the first time around. The second time around, she lingered between the pages and fell in love with the story. The reader savored the words and perhaps the author’s intended message was truly understood.
Are you, too, a speed reader? Did you find yourself quickly reading this post? The following suggestions are ways to intentionally downshift your reading speed:
• Read poetry
• Read out loud
• Slowly and silently read only one chapter of a novel
• Read a book that you may have previously read quickly, slowly
• Read a genre that you don’t normally read
• Listen to someone else read out loud
• Think quality over quantity
Savor the words and you will experience the various layers of literature.