Maybe I Should Read Less

Maybe I Should Read Less

If you’ve spent more than 20 seconds on this blog, you know I love to read and read a lot.  My to-be-read list is a mile long, and despite my freakishly fast reading speed I still lose a little sleep knowing that I’ll never get to them all. (I’m joking. A little.)

As a book lover, I’m happy to see that reading goals are popular this year. Many readers are resolving to read “more,” aiming to polish off 50, 100, even 200 books this year.

I get the appeal of these big-number goals: I love the idea of reading piles of books. In fact, I do read piles of books.

I’ve even been wondering if I read too many books.

Deep or wide?

I love reading widely, but lately I’ve become more aware of what I’m giving up when I do. When I try to plow through my to-be-read stack as quickly as possible, I know what happens:  I don’t give the words time to sink in. I skip the time I need to think and reflect. And I lose out.  

Francis Bacon on reading
“Some books are meant to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. That is, some books are to be read only in parts; Others to be read, but not curiously; And some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” – Francis Bacon

When I’m trying to get through my ever-growing book stack quickly, I tend to put off the books that deserve being read wholly–the ones that demand my diligence and attention. Those books are harder to read. I have to read them s l o w l y. I have to think.

I love to read widely, but I’m reminding myself of the virtues of going deep. When I choose books that beg to be read wholly, I won’t be able to cross as many titles off my list. But I will have read.

Good books take time. But they’re worth it.

Ways I’m helping myself slow down.

Since my natural inclination is to read as much–and as many pages as possible–I have a little checklist I turn to when I need to slow it down.

Do you read widely or read deeply? (Or both, or neither?) What books do you love to read over and over again?

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