Speed Reading

Orangutan peeking out from under a blanket

Furtive Orangutan by fairedingo CC 3.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/fairerdingo/5893821616/

Sometime ago, somewhere, I read about someone (wow, how is that for specifics?) — an author — grumbled about how a fan came up and gushed how he’d finished the author’s book in one day. The author expressed some annoyance at having poured his blood, sweat and tears into the book for months and years…only for it to be gobbled up in a matter of hours.

I can understand that. Wrestling to find the perfect word only to have someone skim over it like it didn’t matter. Except it did. If the word choice hadn’t been perfect, the characters perfectly flawed, the setting perfectly drawn, the reader wouldn’t have been so captivated.

Of course, I mostly see this from the point of view as a reader. I love when I get swept up in a book and can’t put it down. There’s something magical about it.

And, I admit, I’m a little jealous of the writer who can do this…but only once I’ve finished the book because when I’m in the middle of it, I’m too absorbed.

About eight years ago, Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks did this to me. This week, it was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I’m in the middle of Mockingjay, book three, and it’s killing me. I have tried to savor it. I’ll put the book down, but it’s only a matter of minutes before I tear it open again. Even as I type this, I’m giving it furtive glances out of the corner of my eye.

For better or worse, which books have done this to you?


8 thoughts on “Speed Reading

  1. Well… I am a really fast reader and I’m always impatient to know the ending, so I pretty much finish all novels I pick up within a few hours, and usually in one sitting, unless they’re of the insanely massive variety. If I really love a book, I’ll read it again and again to relive the experience and savor my favorite parts. Yes, The Hunger Games is absolutely amazing. I’ve read it several times already (even once in Chinese!).

    • Linda, I’m jealous! I’m a slow reader even if I’m dying to know the end. If I try to go too fast, I’ll glide over paragraphs without registering what they say…and two pages later I’ll realize that what I missed really was important so I have to back and reread it.

      You’ve read it several times (and in Chinese!)? Wow! Since I just finished reading it, I don’t know if I could start it again. At least not right now. I mean, going through the beginning after knowing what is to come would have me screaming at people.

      Translation is so hard…was there any difference in the Chinese versions? Did you think they did a good job?

      • Sometimes I miss things too, when I read too quickly. But I still do it, haha. 😛

        Yeah, rereading it in Chinese was definitely an interesting experience. My Chinese reading comprehension skill is decent but not awesome, so I still relied on my memory of the English version to get me through the book, haha. I was curious to see how they translated proper nouns — sometimes it was phonetic and sometimes it was based on meaning. Some sections, such as why Katniss is called Catnip, were explained through footnotes.

        I wish I remember more about how it felt and what I thought about the translation! I’m sure I had some insights about how the text is affected by translation, but I’m afraid I’ve since forgotten most of them…

    • I did. Heartbreak. But Japan outplayed us. They didn’t give up.

      I finish the second and third books this weekend. Kind of amazed myself with how fast I was able to read them. Now I’m going to feel like a slug if the next book I pick up takes me more than 24 hours to read!

  2. Still have Mockingjay, or was it a library book? I’d love to borrow it if you still have it!

    I read quickly. Too fast, sometimes, and I can’t really go back and start a book over until time has passed. If I know what is going to happen, I’ll read even more quickly to get to the part I know or like. 😦

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