The Art of Reading Slowly – by Ellery Bruns – The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
Personally, the “read, reAD, READ!” mantra was started in elementary school, and then rigorously enforced throughout high school. In very generalized terms, the number of books glanced over was more literally endorsed than the quality of the reading experience. The emphasis on fast-pace-reading is an unintentional effect. Even though literature is one of the few things I unabashedly love, I can see how I was negatively affected by the “read, reAD, READ!” slogan. After I read Tolstoy’s War and Peace for an hour, I am incredibly bugged that I am on page fifty-two and have not been consumed by book’s story yet. And, no, it’s not the book. The read-speedy phenomenon has kidnapped my brain and distracted it from the beauty it is to read slow and live a novel.
Once seventh grade hit, I was reading two to three hundred books a semester because I felt as if I needed to fill that silent implied quota mentioned above. Now, over eight hundred used books in sit in my bookshelves trying to recover their destroyed spines. You’d think the ability to sink into a book’s world would become easier the faster and the more books I read, but that didn’t happen, strangely enough. Instead, to read faster, I started to skim; a mortal sin when you are trying to understand a novel’s strange inner workings. If you have ever read Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov, you know there is only a fragment you will deeply grasp if you skim book with a character that knows he is fictional. So, while I vigorously rummaged through books, I lost the utter happiness and triumph I got by molding myself into the story. As I read War and Peace, I now understand how dreadful reading has become because Tolstoy’s words feel as though they are from a tuna can’s ingredients list: meaningless. I read too fast.
To enjoy written words, I need to peruse them a notch or two below my top word scanning speed. In essence, I need to take in the words of a text slower to bring back the jubilation I feel when I read and melt into a book. That is the only way I will be able to read War and Peace with unabashed joy; and again, no, it is not the book’s plot. Reading slowly–with a purpose– is an art form only mastered once you read at a snail’s pace to transmogrify yourself into the novel’s narrator. That is the art of reading slowly.
Ellery serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.
Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.
(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu