I read this article about reading recently (really). The author was talking about how we seem to read less, and this because there’s always something else to do, check e-mail, check news sites, check text messages. I’m not going to discuss that though. What I found interesting was at one point in the article he mentions that it always takes a few chapters for him to get into that reading groove, that reading a few pages here and there doesn’t work for him.
That led me to a sudden revelation. Had I been reading wrong all this time? My style of reading is exactly opposite his. I read at the dining table while I’m eating, I read during commercial breaks while watching tv, at school I would get to class and read for a few minutes until the teacher started lecturing, snatches of precious time in between other tasks. Have I not been getting as much out of books as I could have?
So I decided to try it. I would read a book for a long stretch. Ella Enchanted was a great book, I thought. I’d wanted to reread it for a while, and it was short enough that I could read it in a couple nights, because I couldn’t guarantee enough nights with time to read several chapters in one go for a longer book.
I read Ella Enchanted last month, most of it in one night. (I cheated myself and read a few pages before I’d finished the books I was reading at the time.) (I also stayed up way too late that night, but that’s another story.)
The result—I was pretty disappointed. I didn’t feel the story was any more real, or that I was further into the story. It was the same as always, a wonderful, beautiful story, but this time it was over so quickly. I didn’t get a chance to relish it and live in the world in my daydreams. It felt a lot more like I’d just watched a movie than read a book I loved.
My test may have been flawed though. Ella Enchanted is just one of those books I hate to rush through. My favorite books I always read piecemeal, to stretch out the goodness of the story. Except for The Count of Monte Cristo, that’s a whole different animal.
But in writing this I laughably realized that I have spent times reading many chapters of a book in one sitting. I just didn’t recognize those times as such because they usually start with me telling myself, “I’ll just read a few pages before bed.” Then the story gets me hooked so I spend a number of hours saying, “Only a few pages more, then I’ll go to bed.” Those are what I termed my “midnight rendezvous.” Heck, that was how I read a few Harry Potter books!
Comparing my two experiences, reading books in short little spurts versus reading nonstop for a long stretch of time, I’d have to say that I don’t notice much of a difference. Reading in bits and pieces is probably more work because I have to block out noise around me and focus on reading, but after a a sentence or two I’m fine and lost in another world.
I have to say I feel sorry for that guy though, if it takes him that long to get into his reading, he must miss out on a lot every time he has to start up again.