Advantages of Slow Reading!

You might have heard about people reading hundreds of books per year. “Be wary of fast readers,” said Gore Vidal once, himself a voracious reader and scholar, he was aware of pitfalls of too fast too much. ‘Photoreading’ is a process by which you can increase your reading speed as much as 100 times! Paul Scheele is a pioneer in the field of accelerated learning and Photoreading and he is an ardent advocate of speed reading. Skeptics look at speed reading as suitable only for ‘just a few’ applications, if any.

I don’t belong to the category of those skeptics but I have never acquired mastery in photoreading because I never wanted to flood myself with information. Photoreading might be a great meta-technique for many applications, but I recommend slow reading for the purpose of augmenting one’s knowledge. Slow reading helps you look at words and if you find etymologies, word-families, derivatives and phrases exceedingly engrossing, you must cultivate the habit of reading slowly. Slow reading could act as a potential meditation tool.

In his brilliant article, Patrick Kingsley talks about slow reading in detail. A brief excerpt :
“Slow reading,” writes Miedema, “is a community event restoring connections between ideas and people. The continuity of relationships through reading is experienced when we borrow books from friends; when we read long stories to our kids until they fall asleep.” Meanwhile, though the movement began in academia, Tracy Seeley, an English professor at the University of San Francisco, and the author of a blog about slow reading, feels strongly that slow reading shouldn’t “just be the province of the intellectuals. Careful and slow reading, and deep attention, is a challenge for all of us.”
So the movement’s not a particularly cohesive one – as Malcolm Jones wrote in a recent Newsweek article, “there’s no letterhead, no board of directors, and, horrors, no central website” – and nor is it a new idea: as early as 1623, the first edition of Shakespeare’s folio encouraged us to read the playwright “again and again”; in 1887, Friedrich Nietzsche described himself as a “teacher of slow reading”; and, back in the 20s and 30s, dons such as IA Richards popularised close textual analysis within academic circles.

Beach 8

Slow reading helps when you are doing it to learn something along with high concentration on the medium in which this learning has been presented. If you intend to study the style, punctuation, verbiage, flow and quintessence of the message you’re reading, you ought to read it meticulously and slowly. It’s not about comprehension, it’s about absorption, analysis, comparison and meditation. This type of reading is not well-suited for most of the message types most of the times. But there is certain area of messages which must be read as slowly as possible and if you could just scribble for a while, after reading every two pages or so, it would become a marvellous practice to glean knowledge and to use it with Socratic Method of Freenoting. Freenoting was developed by Win Wenger. In Freenoting, you just keep on scribbling whatever comes to your mind, with as much of speed as possible, no matter whether it seems relevant or important or not. Freenoting and slow reading make for a great meta-technique combination to increase your perceptivity.

I thank Rashmi of Mind and Life Matters for the inspiration.

Image Source: Slow Reading


58 thoughts on “Advantages of Slow Reading!

  1. This is such good news. When I buy a magnificent book I read it over and over for 2-3 years until it’s tatty and horrible. People who know I love books cant believe the state my books are in but I have my quick reads that I get from the local library, books I don’t want to own just read and then there are MY BOOKS and they are my friends. Hooray for slow reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Anand. I can’t help but think how long and painful a process writing can be. When I read something well written it seems almost sacrilegious to read it with speed. Thanks for taking the time to write your post. It was a pleasure to read. Slowly. -Whitney

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for such kind and inspiring words Whitney. You bring-in a new perspective. We usually tend to think in terms of our ‘gains’ as in learning and entertainment. You hint towards values of sharing and being grateful to community. Attentive listening and reading makes our relationships enriched and makes our world a better place to live. Thank you so much 🙂 Anand


  3. I admit that I’m a fast reader 😀 In general, every task assigned to me I like to do it fast.
    Though, when I re-read a book for a second, third time I discover and enjoy reading things that I haven’t noticed before.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you, Anand! In school I was a procrastinator so always tried to speed read at the last minute before exams. Now I read quickly, but slow down to mark up the books with my own insights and comments. Research shows that when you engage different parts of your brain at the same time while processing information, it sticks better and gets more integrated. This is why taking notes by hand in class is ‘way more effective than typing. Typing can be thought of like reflexes–information goes from the ears directly tithe fingers, bypassing the processing parts of the frontal cortex. By writing, since you have to condense and distill, and you are able to *draw* also, you engage more of the cortex and make connections that you simply cannot do through typing. Either way, i agree, slow reading is definitely more rewarding than speed reading. 😊 Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Catherine,

      Thanks for this wonderful feedback. The thing about writing v/s typing is very true, still, I find advantages of online writing/reading too many to give up. However a balance can be achieved by devoting some time to writing by using pen and paper.

      Thanks for your visit, reading and feedback.

      Anand 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Way back in the age of the dinosaurs, oh no, wait. It was in the time before computers. I was I college and had to do some research work. I needed relevant information as quickly as possible. I taught myself to speed-read, which was a real skill I put to good use. However, once I found the material I needed, I reverted back to slow reading with note-taking. Seemed to work for me. Now, it’s slow reading and taking notes all the time, especially for nonfiction books.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great piece. Most people see me as a fast reader since I usually takes me a day to read a book. No more than 2 days. But if the book is boring it can take me up to a month. Although if the book is really good I find my reading pace slows down drastically. It’s like I want to savor every moment within the pages of that book.

    Still I think everyone has his or her pace at reading. Whether it’s for pleasure or because you have too.

    Are you one to take notes while reading?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be honest I feel I have read merely 4-5 books my whole life LOL 😀 😀

      I did take some notes when I read. I can’t remember the last time I read a book. Thanks for sharing your ideas my friend. You are indeed a voracious reader. Slowing down to savor books seems very reasonable.

      Thanks for the visit, reading and feedback.

      Best Wishes,

      Anand 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Glad that I inspired you to write this post. What you have written has really hit home, my friend. There was a period of my life when I could not read even a paragraph continously because of certain life events, and it really hurt me because I have always been a voracious reader. Not being able to read and concentrate on my reading was not helping at all. I was finally able to overcome that issue by slow reading and writing about what I read. Slowly, the problem went away and I got back to being the reader that I was once.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your kind words Rashmi. I am glad to see that you have shown resilience in the face of adversity and rebound back and now you are inspiring many of us. Please keep doing what you are doing 🙂

      Anand 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind words Kelly 🙂

      In case you need more such tools for creativity and learning you can google “project renaissance” or Win Wenger and find out a lot of free tools and techniques for accelerated learning on his website 🙂


      Liked by 2 people

  8. Scott

    Excellent post.

    I agree with your slow reading concept. I’ve found when I must read something quickly the back door, so to speak, Is ajar. and much what I was trying to comprehend has slipped away.

    It may have been different for you, but I wouldn’t be able to earn an EE degree at a high rate of speed – skimming. Back in the olden days I graduated a year-long Air Force electronic class in order to maintain navigation and communications equipment installed on combat aircraft. The formulas would have been lost on me in the process of speed reading.

    Also, speed reading doesn’t work for me on poetry.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your kind words Scott 🙂
      I have always been a slow reader.
      I had to work hard to read through electronics too as it was not an area of interest for me. I can only imagine how hard it must have been in your time.

      Thanks for sharing your experience and insights with us.

      Anand 🙂


  9. you didn’t stated how much slow comes under slow reading 🙂 like for someone who completes a book in a day someone taking more than that will be labeled as slow reader 🙂 so slow reader is a obsolete term 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s true, I missed that. But then because of that very reason you can’t quantify. Had I said read 100 words per minute some people might have said it’s too slow and it might have been good enough for others. I feel a reader can figure out the ‘slow’ for themselves by not rushing past their own natural speed and keeping an eye on understanding/comprehension. Thanks a lot Neerja 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I believe the concept is slow in your own terms. Meaning – at your own pace. What is slow for me could be fast for someone else and what is slow for them is probably super slow for me. In that sense, it is impossible to quantify the term ‘slow’.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I am totally a slow reader 🙂 this way I can actually understand the text better and gain much,much more insight and wisdom than people who read hundreds of books but come out the other side not really having learnt anything new.

    Liked by 2 people

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