Thursday, January 17, 2013


by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

When I was a sophomore in high school, the school offered a course in Speed Reading. While speed reading can be helpful with scanning a textbook for information, or going through volumes to find specific details for research, I hate speed reading.

I liken it to the difference between a plane trip and a road trip. The road trip takes longer, but instead of clouds, or distant landscapes, or miniature cities below me, I see every window in the city’s tall buildings, and people on the street who walk past them. I see light and shadows. I drive past a blooming cactus or a raven atop a sign post, or a family in a mini-van with a luggage carrier on its roof. Images that add to my experience.

When I read, I not only love a good story (which one can get in a quick read), but I crave details. I revel in an author’s word choices. I savor the way those words are put together to make similes and metaphors, the way the flow of words paints pictures in my mind. I want to lose myself in the character’s life. Sometimes there are subtle nuances in an author’s style that don’t come through in a quick jaunt through a story. No, speed reading is not for me.

But what about others? I talked to a number of friends about how they read. Do they skim or read every word?

Michele and Kathy (who are twins) like to read each word. Kathy will reread a paragraph or a whole page that she has especially enjoyed. Sometimes she’ll go back later and read it again. Michele often reads aloud to enhance the feeling of the words.

Dave said it depends on which Dave is reading the book. He was a teacher, who now works in a bookstore and makes decisions on which books to order. He writes a book review column. And he’s a parent. So Dave the Teacher, Dave the Dad, Dave the Book Reviewer, and Dave the Book Purchaser all read in different ways.

While my way of reading takes me longer to get through a book, doing that helps immensely when I’m asked to critique a manuscript. I can catch small details that someone else might miss.

The down side is my stack of books waiting to be read can become precariously high. (My Kindle is new, and I’ve only read one novel in Kindle form so far.) But if I’m going to take the time to read a book, I want to get all I can from the experience. Zipping through clouds is for the birds.

So what about you? Do you like to hurry through a dozen novels in a month, or limit yourself to a leisurely trip through two or three?


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Ann. I think those of us who read that way make more patient writers.

  2. I'm going to try keeping my reading list smaller for a while. When my TBR pile is tall, it's like I get nervous and read them faster so as not to be "behind." Kind of silly, but there it is. Don't know if I'll succeed with keeping it smaller...

    1. Better to keep your list short than to read too fast to enjoy the book. Thanks for commenting, Marcia, & happy reading, however you choose to read.

  3. Great post, Kathy! I, too, savor artfully crafted words weaved together in artistic expression. I am forever intrigued and amused by others writing styles and ways of expression. Reading inspires me in so many ways.

    1. I agree, Melissa. Reading is what inspired me to write in the first place, & I think most good writers have to know how to appreciate the richness of words. It's not just about telling a story; it's about drawing a reader into it.