Never speed-read. 

And honestly, why would you want to?  Even if what you’re reading isn’t sitting well with you or registering at its most optimal angle, take your time.  Reading is meant to be intimate, meant to be personal, and measured.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard students say, “I don’t like it…” or “This doesn’t relate to me at all…” or something to that tune.  Then, they either stop reading or as some sort of convenient confirmation to themselves they read but with irresponsible momentum.  More than likely skipping sentences and dialogue lines but remembering enough to mention names and even cite certain portions of the story or narration in class, but deprive themselves of the author’s message, the text’s autonomous identity.

I tell students, every semester, “Take your time if you want to not only understand but have your own ideas.” Connected to the text, or not.  You have to read and thoroughly excavate the text, regardless of size, to have your own ideas concerning it.  I tell students it’s about you, and nothing is more true that with the act of reading.  “What do you mean by ‘it’?” The experience… your life… your studies… everything.  And by ‘it’ being about you, the student, you have to actuate a mentality of pronounced ownership.  Speeding through a text, or anything, is to put priority on time itself, not the act.  When the act is reading, you should engage it as you would another human— sincerely, openly, politely.

Plath wrote, “I am, I am, I am.” To read that quickly misses the point of her, her words, her story, of you in your act of reading.  She gavels her identity to her work, to life in that moment… you have to read it slow.  If you don’t enjoy her work, or someone else’s, that’s just the exact warrant I affirm is called for to read slowly, sincerely, with measured momentum.

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