Reading Journal (10 Feb): The Joy of Reading Slowly

I finished Sense and Sensibility this week, and I did end up enjoying it. But I read it so fast, that I finished it and wanted more. I watched the movie, and I still wanted more. It was disappointing to pick up the next book (Dorian Gray) and know it was not going to have the romantic ending of Jane Austen. Should I read Sense and Sensibility again? No, I’m not going to, but I do wish I’d read it a little slower this first time. There is only one first time to reading a book.

I also picked up East of Eden this week. I read East of Eden first when my son was a newborn, and as I read, I loved it so much I wished I could discuss it with someone. I read during my one-book-at-a-time days. (I can’t imagine doing that now.) It was beautifully written, and it was full of deep issues. It would be perfect for discussion. After I finished reading it, I wrote a post or two on my personal family blog. No one commented. I found some book-specific blogs that I could comment on, and I loved the idea of sharing about my reading. Because of my experience reading East of Eden and wanting to write about it, I decided to start my own books blog!

As I began it again this week, I found myself longing to savor the language as I hadn’t savored Jane Austen’s language. I gave myself limits: no more than 10 or 20 pages (or so) at a time. I’ve only read about 70 pages this week and I am looking forward to continuing to read the novel slowly. Since I know what will happen, it doesn’t seem an issue to take it slowly. And Steinbeck is meant to be savored, I think.

I also finished a few other books. These were not take-it-slowly reads. Dorian Gray was okay. It’s creepy and I think we’ll have a good book club discussion next week, but it wasn’t a favorite for me, and I hope I don’t have to reread it. Some of Wilde’s philosophy got a bit boring to me, but the story moved quickly when it happened. My Classics Circuit pick, Black No More, was an interesting satire, and I’m glad I read it. It also wasn’t a favorite: it’s more of a novel I read for historical value. It got me thinking, and I think that was the point.

I’m still enjoying Inventing English slowly, and I picked up a volume of essays (Reading in Bed) about reading that Stefanie has been talking about. Oh, I love it already! I plan on reading these slowly (the entire book is about 150 pages) and I will pick out some favorite quotes to share with you about the joys of reading.

Do you purposely slow down your reading? Why or why not?

Finished Books

  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (315 pages; fiction). A happy ending!
  • The picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (190 pages; fiction). For my book club.
  • Oscar Wilde’s The picture of Dorian Gray: a graphic novel by Ian Culbard (125 pages). Since I’m reading the original for my book club; also for the Graphic Novel Challenge.
  • Black No More: A Novel by George S. Schuyler (190 pages; fiction). For the February Classics Circuit.
  • A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers by Nancy Willard (50 pages; poetry). A Newbery and Caldecott winner.

Abandoned/Returned Books

  • Kings : an account of books 1 and 2 of Homer’s Iliad; The husbands : an account of books 3 and 4; All day permanent red : the first battle scenes of Homer’s Iliad; and War music : an account of books 16 to 19 of Homer’s Iliad by Christopher Logue. These are each short (80-100 pages). Oh how I want to read these! But something has to give, and these are due back at the library.

Currently Reading

Each week, I list my progress so I can see how my reading compares week to week. I did make a little progress on some of these.

My Books

Here are the books I own or downloaded. I’ve been rather horrible at reading my project book this week! I still have eleven days in the month to finish it, though, so it’s okay.

  • Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and Their Messages by Karen Lynn Davidson (125 read of 455 pages; nonfiction)
  • DNA by James Watson (120 read of 405 pages; nonfiction). My project book. I space out after about 10 or 15 pages a day, but other than that, it’s okay.
  • A Raisin the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (drama). Not begun yet.

Old Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

  • Inventing English: a portable history of the language by Seth Lerer (110 read of about 250 pages; nonfiction).
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck (70 read of about 600 pages; fiction). For the Classics Reads Book Group.
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I will read it this time around!
  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. The brief biography in the introduction is very good, so I’m looking forward to this one!
  • Reading in Bed edited by Steven Gilbar (15 read of 150 pages; nonfiction/essays). A collection of essays about our favorite topic: reading.

New Library Loot

  • I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches that Changed the World by Martin Luther King, Jr. (200 pages; nonfiction/speeches).
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave (nonfiction/memoir).
  • Rashomon and Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa (fiction).
  • The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata (fiction).


  • Apologies to an Apple by Maya Ganesan. Amanda enjoyed this. I can’t find it at the my library, but I’ll keep it in mind for the “someday” pile.

I also have a long list of English history books and Shakespeare history plays to read! Thanks for your recommendations!

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. I have to remind myself a lot to read slower and savor a book. When a plot starts picking up, I find myself reading faster and faster so I can find out what’s going on, so I really need to reign that in.
    .-= Stephanie´s last post on blog ..Sunday Salon =-.

  2. I need to consciously slow down when I’m reading a classic so that I can fully take in what is happening and to understand the language. I can better appreciate the writing that way.
    .-= Suzanne´s last post on blog ..Reading Week in Review =-.

  3. I read slowly anyway. I hate being a slow reader. it means that I can’t read as many books as I want to. My Amazon wishlist has grown bigger and bigger over the last couple of years because it’s taking me forever to finally finish my TBR pile.

    I guess, in some ways, being a slow reader means I can really get into the story and enjoy that world for a while, but at the same time, I can see other books I really want to get onto and start to feel tiresome of sticking with the same book for a while.

  4. There are some books that have to be read slower and if i’m not in the mood to read slowly, I know now to put them away for later. I go through periods where I want slow books and where I want faster reads, so I try to let my mood dictate my books.

    I think Apologies to an Apple was published in a small press. I’m not sure how to purchase it. Jason won it from Color Online last year.

  5. I don’t purposely slow down my reading because I hardly have any time to read as it is. Combine that limitation with writing about what I read and ten pages can be a very good day. Since I have a sizeable commute I’ve started listening to more audiobooks (when I can find something I like at the library). I have forgotten how much can be added to a work by reading or listening to it, plus it enables me to cover much more than I could ordinarily.

    I have also started carrying a book with me all the time because I never know when I’ll have a few spare minutes. The most recent example was when we stopped at a grocery store and one of the kids had fallen asleep in his seat. Simple joys, like reading a good book in a shady parking spot while listening to your three-year old snore, can’t be beat and are automatically savored.
    .-= Chrees´s last post on blog ..Mourt’s Relation discussion =-.

  6. We’ve been contemplating reading East of Eden for our book group. I for one, am not easily offended by books — especially classics. However, we have a very conservative, LDS, book group. Can you comment on the “content” of East of Eden? Would it be appropriate for a church book group? Even if we don’t read it as a group…it is one I haven’t read personally, but plan to anyway.
    .-= Melissa Mc (Gerbera Daisy Mom)´s last post on blog ..Book Review — Murder at Longbourn =-.

  7. I’m so glad you are enjoying Reading in Bed! I read it slowly and in bed and it was a delightful experience. I should read slowly more often than I do. I intend to when I start some books but then I get caught up in the story and forget!
    .-= Stefanie´s last post on blog ..The Tyranny of E-Mail =-.

  8. Ooh, the beginning of East of Eden! That sentence about the color the California Poppies is one of my favorites of all time.

    There are certain authors for whom I must remind myself to slow down and savor each word. When I find myself reading faster & faster, it’s often a sign that I should take a break and do something else.
    .-= Emily´s last post on blog ..Essay Mondays: Edgeworth =-.

  9. I LOVED The Picture of Dorian Gray! It is one of my favorite books. I like what you have to say about reading slowly. I do tend to savor my classics too. Modern fiction is much easier to read quickly, but there is a need to enjoy each word when reading something older.
    .-= Michelle´s last post on blog ..Readers v. Non-readers =-.

  10. Oh Steinbeck speaks to me. He’s writing about my family, I just know it. East of Eden is my favorite. I know his stories are depressing but he tells it like it “was”.
    Have you seen the painting of Dorian Gray at the Chicago Art Museum? Interesting.

  11. Well, 10-20 pages at one time is about my pace of reading Pride and Prejudice now 🙂 (or any book really…)
    .-= mee´s last post on blog ..Mailbox Monday – 3 Months Acquisition =-.

  12. I try to remember to read some books slowly, but sometimes I feel like I get so caught up in the plot that I rush to find out more. I’m rereading the Austen books, with the intent to read them more slowly this time around, since I sort of know what happens in most of them. Looking forward to hearing more about what you thought of Dorian Gray.
    .-= Maire´s last post on blog ..Lady Susan by Jane Austen =-.

  13. I definitely try to drag my reading out, when I know I’m in the hands of an amazing author, and I really don’t want the experience to end. 🙂

    I do worry though, about an idea I’ve seen (not on your blog) that people who read quickly are somehow missing things, skimming, etc. I naturally read books at a pretty quick pace, but I don’t think that makes me less of a serious reader. You know?
    .-= Eva´s last post on blog ..Is This Thing On? =-.

  14. Stephanie, sometimes it’s fun to let a plot sweep my away!

    Suzanne, that’s what I’m finding with East of Eden…I appreciate more if I read a few pages then stop and savor it!

    Ceri, I understand the feeling of “so many books, so little time” and I feel that way, even though I am a fast read!

    Amanda, I too think it’s important to let mood dictate how the reading goes! I have a feeling I’m going to have to push myself to read the Dickens faster because I’ll quit again if I go slow!

    Chris, maybe I’ll like it more after our discussion! I think discussions help me like a book more, most of the time…

    Chrees, when I had a long commute, I LOVED audiobooks! And awesome to always have a book with you!

    Melissa, I am probably the wrong person to ask because my ideas of content appropriateness are probably different from other people. I, for one, couldn’t stand Kite Runner and quit because of the rape scene. This book, on the other hand, has prostitution and attempted murder and lots of scandal. But I absolutely love it. I’ll send you an email.

    Stefanie, it is so nice — I wish I owned it so I could read it even more slowly (i.e., one essay a day).

    Emily, THAT was the paragraph that got me to stop and close the book for a few moments and ponder it. Then I reread it. It convinced me to read East of Eden slowly this time!

    Michelle, I’m glad so many loved Dorian Gray–it suggests our book club meeting will be promising! And yes, reading some of these great classics calls for slow reading.

    Tami, I’ve only read East of Eden thus far, but I do love it!! I’m glad to hear you are such a Steinbeck fan.

    mee, I am blessed to get lots of reading time in the evenings, usually!

    Marie, yes, I guess that’s the comfort: I can always reread Jane Austen. But it is disappointing that I’ll never get to read this one for the first time again, discovering what happens! It was fun.

    Eva, I hear your point. I know for me, I am probably a pretty poor reader. I skim when I read fast sometimes. I’m a fast reader even if I’m not purposely reading fast (if that makes sense) so I’m the definition of a bad reader, I think, because I let the plot carry me away. I do want to try to be more careful. The language is just so great many times!

  15. One of the great things about reading multiple books is that I can savor them and not rush through them even if I read a lot. I don’t like moving through a book really quickly, as I don’t feel I have enough time to process it that way. So by reading multiple books I can have the best of both worlds, in a way.
    .-= Dorothy W.´s last post on blog ..An absurdly good day =-.

  16. I love this: a goal to read slowly. A page limit.

    I’ll have to try this. It seems as important to appreciating literature, as rereading.

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