:: slow reading ::

I loved Peggy Rosenthal's blog entry about slow reading over on Good Letters. You see, though I read a lot, and often many different books & periodicals at the same time, I'm a slow reader. God made me this way, and also, I simply enjoy reading slow. I do read some books faster than others, but more often than not, I take my time - soak in the words, the sentences, the story, the visuals, the ideas, and so on.

A long time ago, I worried that my slow reading made me dumb or of a low intellect. But in the fourth grade, I was placed in an advanced reading class. I felt all special because I got to visit a fifth grade classroom every week, huddle around a wooden table with a few other advanced classmates, and learn along with older kids. I suppose if I was "so dumb" those teachers wouldn't have selected me for such a class.

In more recent years, I read an article by an author (I wish I could remember....) who basically said that good writers learn from what they read, so they ought to take it slow - not scarf down a book like a fast food meal. Allow the book to nurture you, feed you. That cheered my writer-wannabe soul.

All of that to say, I've enjoyed the art of slow reading this week:

-I had trouble reading The Maytrees a few months ago. This greatly troubled me because Annie Dillard is one of my all-time favorite writers. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek changed my life. After reading Rosenthal's blog entry in which she mentions The Maytrees, I figured out that I was trying to sprint through the book instead of savoring. I am almost finished and now that I've slowed down, I'm in awe of Dillard's writing once again. Her way with words is precisely why I joined the facebook group, "If Annie Dillard writes it, I will read it."

-Much to my happiness, the July/Aug. 2008 issue of Poetry arrived. Have I mentioned that I love when a poem complements the weather going on outside our windows? Houston has been quite rainy and stormy the past week, yet the sun shines today. I found the following poem to be lovely:

The Storm is Over
by Jason Guriel

But now it's raining
below the greener clouds
of trees that were absorbent
but only up to a point.
And these raindrops
strained by treetops
should (you would think)
be filtered and finer
and therefore pure
(and not Chinese
water torture's
fatter, darker drops
that always pick out
of all possible bull's-eyes
your bald spot).
But these are late, last drops
and a little bloated
like late, last poems
by name your poet

[that poem is fun to read aloud ~ most of it sounds exactly like the aftermath of rain]

-My friend Matt kindly sent us a subscription to The Sun. I used to subscribe to this magazine full of beautiful photography, interviews, essays & memoirs, short stories, poetry, liberal politics (I'm conservative), and the Readers Write section - I mean to contribute one of these days. But I chose not to renew my subscription last time to save a few bucks. So you can imagine my wide smile when I discovered Matt's gift in our mailbox! Issue 391 contains an interview with the great Wendell Berry. His brain fascinates me. I didn't agree with everything he said, though he is full of wisdom. I loved this quote:

"Real reading, of course, is a kind of work. But it's lovely work. To read well, you have to respond actively to what the writer's saying. You can't just lie there on the couch and let it pour over you. You may have to read with a pencil in hand and underline passages and write notes in the margins. The poet John Milton understood that the best readers are rare. He prayed to his muse that he might a 'fit audience find, though few.'"

-My friend Brett urged me to read Hinds' Feet on High Places - one of her favorite books. At first, I didn't want to because I decided it wasn't "my kind" of book. But I trust Brett implicitly, so I read a few pages of the Christian allegory, read a few more pages, and then I was hooked. I totally relate to the character "Much-Afraid." Not only that, but I realized with horror that at times, I might be a literary snob! I can't have that. Hinds' Feet is turning out to be both a good read for adults, and one I'd love to read to my future children.

-Oh, and the above photo is my end table next to the upstairs sofa (I love Audrey Hepburn movies). Here is my husband's end table with one of his heroes:

[the coasters are gifts from my Mom-in-law]


Anonymous said...

United Airlines owes a debt of gratitude to Annie Dillard. The brilliance of that book may have been the only reason I didn't go crazy and hurt someone during a 4-hour delay while trying to fly to Chicago this spring. It's that good.

jenni said...

That reminds me - a book on my to-read list is Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles....

Anonymous said...

You were put in an advanced reading/writing class in 2nd grade if you want the truth. I personally like to let the beautiful words and thoughts roll around in my head and am in no hurry to move on.

Your Mama loves you.

jenni said...

We disagree on the grade, Mama, but I'm glad to know I got my love of slow reading from you.

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