On Being A Slow Reader

One of the reasons I don’t read fiction is that it seems to take me longer than most. I’m no super reader, like Ingrid. She can read and finish a 400-page book in a day. That’ll be a month for me. This is one of the reasons I rarely read fiction. Instead, I listen to or watch fiction. I’m a slow reader. Upfront: being a slow reader hasn’t diminished my love for the written word.

Some have suggested I do some speed reading training but I don’t know if that will work. I don’t see my slow reading speed as a handicap. I’m OK with the fact that I don’t read as fast as others.

Besides time, I haven’t discovered other significant downsides to being a slow reader. If there are any, I would love to know and not know at the same time. Over the years I’ve opted to work with being a slow reader than try to fight it.

Why (I Think) I’m A Slow Reader

Before I go too far, I have couple of ideas why I seem slower than most. The first is that I never want to miss anything when I read. As I read to learn and grow, I want to and try to savour the experience as well.

The second reason I read slow is the way I read. I use highlighters and pens. I underline things that stand out for me. Often, the evidence I’ve read a book will be notes in the margins. Kindle and iBooks also don’t escape highlights and notes.

This way of reading generally keeps me attentive and helps my retention.

Three Ways I Deal With Being A Slow Reader

Lower Expectations

I used to want to be the guy who read a book a week. Between my studies, work, and life in general, it was unrealistic. I want to be the guy who reads over one hundred books a year but is it helpful? How much of what you read is not only retained but applied.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for reading, a lot. Caution is in order here. Be careful not to make finishing books the object at the expense of comprehension. Another important aspect is making sure that we don’t aim to finish at the expense of application.

What we read shapes our thinking and worldview. We must read. Being a slower reader, I’ve opted to reduce the number of books to read each year.

I currently don’t have a number because of my studies and other research projects.

Audio (and Video)

Being a slow reader I’ve learnt to be more creative about how I consume books. For tomes and fiction, I’ve gone back to audiobooks. I usually listen to these in transit. While I learn and am entertained, traffic is more bearable. I also listen while shopping, doing the dishes, cooking and other day-to-day activities.

Where possible I also love to watch books packaged into documentary form. Given the choice I still love reading, reading. As in actually reading.

On Being A Slow Reader

At The End Of The Day

I want to always make sure I’m reading something. Instead of the number of books I plan to read, I’ve opted to set aside reading time. I’ve made the number of books I read irrelevant. I’ve opted to make provision for consistent reading time. I now plan reading time into each day.

My goal: to follow through with daily reading. If I end up reading a hundred books that’s great but it isn’t the goal anymore.

Again, being a slow reader don’t bother me much…

Your thoughts?

images in order of appearance:

Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash and Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash


Originally published at Blessing Mpofu.