Never Mind

January 9, 2009 at 6:32 pm | Posted in Book Blather | 3 Comments

I have given a name to my pain, and it is Sarah Weinman.  Look at what she’s gone and done.  Darn overachievers…

I read the other day that people who set resolutions rather than goals are more than ten times more likely to meet them.  I wish I’d realized this when I set out to read 400 books, because I could have avoided certain heartbreak.  Little did I know, far from being an unprecedented accomplishment, that this had been done before and even exceeded!  Drat!  I should simply have resolved to focus my reading more, or finish one book before beginning another – then I could have been satisfied.  If I want to read more than 462 books in one year, I’ll have to wait until retirement.

Sarah Weinman has three secrets behind her success.  One is that she speed-reads; another is that she reads professionally.  The third is that she reads a lot of genre fiction.  This is why she’ll remain laps and laps ahead of me no matter how much I read.

I know how to speed-read, but I usually don’t.  I learned in 7th grade from an article by Bill Cosby.  I use this method when doing research, catching up with the news, or deciding whether to read a book.  It’s just that I’ve found that when I speed-read, my retention is cut by about half.  For me, it’s like trying to watch a movie while nodding off and sleeping through sections of it.  At the end, you’ve got the gist and you have a rough idea who most of the characters are, but all the detail has blurred and faded away (and possibly gotten mixed together with dream images).  So, while I find speed-reading convenient at times, for “real” reading I find it’s far more efficient than effective.

I don’t read professionally.  (At least, not in a fun way).  Sometimes I fantasize about it, but the truth is that I really wouldn’t want to.  Reading is my greatest pleasure in life, largely because I read whatever I want.  Reviewing books professionally would mean reading according to an external agenda.  I’m quite glad there are people who do this, but it’s not for me.  Anyway, the main point here is that I’m at work 40 hours a week, reading memos rather than books.  I wasn’t able to read any of my 409 books on the clock, meaning I lost 2000 hours.

I avoid genre fiction.  In my reading career I’ve read stacks of horror, sci fi, fantasy, mysteries, young adult and children’s books, and even a dozen or so romance novels.  I find all these to be very fast reads.  They just don’t often grab me anymore.  I don’t care for much mainstream fiction, either.  Nonfiction is my true love, and when I am reading for information, I want to make sure it stays in my memory after I read it.  Chances are that I’ll read more slowly as time goes on and I read more complex things.

Anyway, I’m terribly jealous of those 462 books, as I’m sure you’ve realized.  I’m on #8 for this year, heading into a quiet weekend at home, and wondering whether I can keep up last year’s pace without telling Rocket Scientist…

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