On Reading “Slowly, Slowly” – A.Jacobs

AJacobsPleasuresofReadingFrom a section headed by the words “slowly, slowly” in his book The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction (Oxford, 2011), Alan Jacobs makes the following points about slow reading:

There’s a Web site called bkkeepr that provides what its maker would call a service. I am inclined to disagree.

bkkeepr requires you, when you start a book, to identify it not by title and author but by the ISBN number. It does so because its whole purpose is to show you how fast you read, and it therefore needs the ISBNs in order to identify the particular edition of a book that you’re reading.

I think this is a bad idea. It’s what you’re reading that matters, and how you’re reading it, not the speed with which you’re getting through it. Reading is supposed to be about the encounter with other minds, not an opportunity to return to the endlessly appealing subject of Me. Americans have enough encouragements to narcissism; let’s try to do without this one.

…We should not underestimate what can be accomplished by those who are wiling to read more slowly and with greater care (67, 69).

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