Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Read Slowly for Pleasure/Understanding

In the early 70's I enjoyed a respected university professor of medieval history lecture about the importance of slowing down, being selective, and enjoying what you read. His words seem prophetic today when we consider what the Internet has done to our reading focus. We tend to flit from one site to the other, and scan for nuggets of information. There is no time to enjoy the slow dance with the words on the page.

Laura Casey in a perceptive article quotes an avid reader, "Deep or slow reading is a sophisticated process in which people can critically think, reflect, and understand the words they are looking at. With most, that means slowing down-even stopping and rereading a page or paragraph if it doesn't sink in- to really capture what the author is trying to say. Experts warn that without reading and really understanding what's being said, it is impossible to be an educated citizen of the world, a knowledgeable voter or even an imaginative thinker."

Casey cites Nicholas Carr of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. He refers to Google CEO Eric Schmidt who said he was concerned about what he sees as a decline in slow reading. "Instant messages and 140 character tweets appear to be taking over our ability to concentrate on a single idea or theme in a book."

She also interviewed John Miedema of Slow Reading, "I can appreciate people's desire to read faster, but if you want to have a deep relationship with a text and understand a complex idea, then slow reading is a preferred style. It's good for pleasure, too. It's not a rushed experience and you can lose yourself in a text."

Moreover, she quotes, Cynthia Lee Katona of Book Savvy, "If you like beautiful things, authors put words together that are really beautiful and expressive. If you want to write well- and there are losts of reasons to be articulate and to express yourself clearly- you should read."

The article encourages one to think about our own reading habits and if we are reading too fast through those fluttering pages in the internet windstorm...........