Friday, 24 January 2014

Slowing down, speeding up, changing hats

I’ve noticed that as I get older some things take a little longer than they used to. Getting up from a kneeling position, threading a needle or recalling someone’s name all demand a bit more time and effort these days.

On the other hand, some tasks have become quicker and easier. For example, now my husband and I no longer need to wear smart clothes for work I’ve cut my ironing time from hours to minutes!

But one change that took me completely by surprise when I noticed it, is how much my reading speed has slowed down. When I had a lot less time for reading, I easily managed 2–3 full-length novels per month. But when I looked back at the books I’d read during 2013 I realised that each one took me 6-8 weeks to finish. Why? After so many years of practice I should be really good at reading now. It’s still one of my favourite occupations and something I do every day.

The only explanation I can think of is that I'm forgetting to change hats (another symptom of the passing years!) If I’m reading an interesting, well-written book I tend to have my writer’s hat on. As I read, I’m also analysing why I like this book and what tricks the author is using to keep me turning the pages. When I come across a particularly good sentence or paragraph I’ll read it several times in the hope of learning how to improve my own writing.

A book I don’t like so much takes even longer to get through, because I read it with my editor’s hat on. It takes me ages to go through it with my imaginary pencil; correcting awkward phrases, crossing out unnecessary words, and putting question marks where something just doesn’t seem to make sense!        

I need to find my reader’s hat again, and to remind myself to keep it on I’ve accepted the Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge. I’ve pledged to read 12 books - one a month – but I’m hoping that if I can speed up I might manage a few more. 

I got off to a good start by finishing Life After Lunch by Sarah Harrison , but now I’m struggling. My second book is The Summer Boy by Henry Mitchell. I’ve only read the first few pages but they’re so skillfully written that I want to linger over every word ….

Have you set yourself any reading challenges? How are you doing?


Patsy said...

I definitely read differently since I've started writing. Asa result I enjoy some books more - and others less.

SquirrelQueen said...

I used to be a fast reader too and could go through a book in a few days. My problem now is finding time to read. My Kindle is overflowing with books but I have a several books for upcoming reviews that must be read first. I love the cover of The Summer Boy.