I recently wrote about how you can read more efficiently to reach your 2021 reading goals.
But today I wanted to look at the other side: that maybe this year your goal should actually be to read less.
Now, before you completely disregard this post, wait a minute. I don’t mean spend less time reading, I mean read more slowly.
In a world that focuses on mile long tbrs and list after list of goals, it’s almost unheard of to want to read less. But reading more slowly has a lot of benefits.
Why read more slowly?
There are a lot more guides on how to read quicker than how to read slowly, but there are a lot of hidden benefits of reading slowly.
You can read more deeply
Most of what is in books is between the lines- it’s what you add in, the blanks you fill.
When we rush through books, we lose the little added parts that should be read more deeply.
By reading more slowly, we can pick up the little bits of symbolism, foreshadowing or other interesting plot devices that we might otherwise miss.
You can be more emotionally involved
Some books are just too good to skim read. Connecting to characters and story is one of the main reason that we read; why lose that?
By reading slowly and taking time to mull over each character and event, we have more time for reflection and can therefore connect more emotionally with the story.
You’ll retain more information
How many times have you read a particular passage only to… forget everything that happened in it.
When I’m reading, I often end up having to reread the same page or paragraph 2 or 3 times. And the reason? Because I’m skim reading.
When we’re desperately trying to get through a book just to tick it off our tbr, it’s easy to just try to skim read, pick up the basic information of the book. But isn’t the point of reading to enjoy the story? And how can we do that if we don’t fully understand it or ever follow the storyline?
Reading slowly allows you to absorb information much more easily and make associations between facts. This could mean understanding a paper better or just being able to follow different points of view in a work of fiction.
Reading slowly reduces stress
In one way or another, reading really is a form of meditation. Reading for just 20 minutes can greatly increase relaxation, and reduce stress.
But if we rush through books and pick up another as soon as we’ve put one down, reading becomes more of a form of stress than relaxation. And it shouldn’t be that way.
We spend a lot of our lives multi-tasking and skipping from one piece of work to another. Picking up a book signals to our brains to focus on just one thing- the story. But this only works if we fully focus on that story, and lose all thoughts of having to race through it.
Slow reading allows us to practise being slow in life and grounding ourselves through intentional action and inaction.
How to get more out of each book?
It’s easy enough to say ‘read slower’ but it can be really difficult to keep your attention on one book for a large amount of time (and easy to feel unproductive!).
Only read what you really enjoy
Reading can be for all sorts of purposes but one of the main ones is entertainment.
You wouldn’t force yourself to watch a series you despise so why read what you don’t enjoy?
There’s a lot of pressure to only read the ‘right’ things, whether that be classics, longer novels, non-fiction. But there’s no right thing to read, apart from what you enjoy.
If you love the books you’re reading, it’ll be much easier to take your time with them without getting bored or giving up.
Put everything else aside
It’s difficult to truly enjoy reading if your attention is split, so turn your phone off, and limit distractions.
Choose a time of day when you don’t need to reply to emails or send messages or do household tasks, and take that time to focus solely on reading.
It might feel difficult at first not to quickly check your phone, but soon it’ll become second nature, and your mind will thank you for it.
The reading experience is more than just a good book; it’s a mixture of the ideas the book introduces and your own thoughts.
Highlight passages or write notes in the margin- make the book yours! It’ll make the experience a lot more enjoyable and personal.
Share your thoughts
Reading doesn’t have to be a solitary experience! You can chat to your friends and family about the book you’re currently reading or any good recommendations.
On Bookstagram, I like to share my current read with my followers on my story, so I can chat about how I’m finding it and hear their thoughts on it.
This is also a great way to connect to more like-minded readers and discuss books. Because isn’t that really what we’re all here for? To talk and share our experiences?
If I’m racing through books, it’s not only difficult to keep up, but also hard to remember my specific thoughts on books.
Are you trying to read more quickly this year or slowing down? Are these tips helpful? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or you can connect with me directly on any of my social medias.