Are you a savorer or a speed reader?

coffee and books

Last night I finished my last Deborah Crombie novel.

I began the first book of her Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James British mystery series on November 25. I finished book #16 on February 2.

I haven’t added up how many pages that is. Honestly, I’m afraid to.

I’ve loved reading the series, but it has seriously disrupted my regular reading life.

As I’ve been blazing through these novels, my mind has kept returning to this post I originally wrote a year and a half ago, when I was hooked on a different series. I’m republishing it today: I hope you enjoy it, and I’d love to hear which camp YOU fall into. (Based on my present and past confessions, I’m sure you’re in no doubt about my readerly identity.)

 *****     *****     *****

Many of you enthusiastically recommended the Outlander series to me, and I’d hesitantly added them to my To Be Read List. But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything: that list is several hundred titles long.

But then my friend told me she had decided to read the series for herself.. When I was over at her house soon after, I saw the books—with their fat spines and beautiful covers—neatly arranged on her bookshelf. I grabbed book #1 off the shelf—I couldn’t help myself—and flipped it open. My friend had the 20th anniversary edition, which begins with a two-page forward in which author Diana Gabaldon explains how the books came into being.

I don’t own that edition myself; this is completely from memory. Gabaldon said she sat down to write her first novel, knowing it would be total crap, as first novels usually are, and she might as well get it over with as soon as possible. She started her story with 18th century Scottish Highlanders, because as a historian, she knew something about them.

A modern woman kept asserting herself into the antiquated story, and Gabaldon let her remain for the time being—it was hard enough to write; she’d edit her out later. But she never was edited out, and the story went to press as-is, with her publisher declaring “this has to be a word-of-mouth sales campaign, because this book is too weird for a marketer to describe.”

In short, Gabaldon won my nerdy writer’s heart with her terrific two-page intro, and I decided right there that I had to read this book.

(Silly me, I thought I was signing up for a three-book series, because my friend had three Outlander books on her shelf at the time. There are actually eight, for a total to date of 8,479 pages, with at least one more novel that pushes a thousand pages on the way.)

I read book #1 and now I am totally hooked.

I want to read the series—the whole shebang, 8+ books, 8,479 pages, 300+ hours on Audible—because I am completely hooked on the story. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Are you a savorer or a speed reader?

I have a history of burning through great series at an alarming pace. Give me a book with solid writing and irresistible narrative drive, and I’ll show you a book I’ll read in three days flat.

(I’m not a true speed reader—not the kind of speed reading you take courses for or anything—nor do I wish to be. But I am a naturally fast reader, and can speed it up a bit when I want to.)

I’ve torn through Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, the Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, the Starbridge Series and the Port William novels, Anne Shirley and Emily Starr and Betsy-Tacy, even Jane Austen’s oeuvre, at breakneck speed.

The stories are so good I want to finish them as quickly as possible.

This impulse leaves some fellow book-lovers aghast, because they believe great books are for savoring. They should be read slowly, to make them last longer. The reader should squeeze the maximum enjoyment out of every word, instead of skimming the surface with a hasty reading.

I appreciate the sentiment, but I can’t make myself read these books slowly. At least not the first time through.

The series I’ve devoured, listed above, (with one exception, I think—care to guess?) stand up to re-reading, even beg for it. By page 100 of Outlander, I knew I’d be reading it again. Many of you have told me you’ve read through the entire series four or five times. I can’t wait to find out what happens, but I’m not overly concerned with catching every nuance on the first reading.

I think the savorers have a point, but not so strong a point they’ll make a convert of me. Whether it’s my nature to read quickly or merely my choice, I just want to get to the end of the story.

But intelligent readers with excellent taste disagree, and so I’d love to hear:

Are you a savorer, or a speed reader? 

P.S. Another fault line among book-lovers: the abandoner vs. the finisher. And how I make time to read.

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  1. Jennifer says:

    I’m a total speed reader! I just finished Book 3 of the Outlander series and I can’t wait to start the next one (I’m waiting for the library to open!). I will definitely be rereading these, I know I miss little bits here and there because I’m reading so quickly, but I just have to know what happens next!

  2. Emily says:

    Speed reader speaking here too! For the most part, I have accepted that about myself, but I do wonder if a distinction should be drawn when it comes to genres of writing. Plot-driven books, sure (even if the crafting of the writing deserves to be appreciated too)–but I find myself tearing through memoirs and other reflective, more subtle works as well, which I attribute less to their gripping qualities than to how the internet age of constant information and consumption has wired my brain.

    • Anne says:

      That’s a good point. For the most part, if an author is writing something deep and reflective (memoir, some creative nonfiction), I try to likewise read it in a similar spirit. Sometimes this is easy, but sometimes I slip into speed-reading mode. That’s an interesting (and honestly, kinda scary) point about the age of constant information rewiring our brains.

  3. Beth says:

    Speed reader! If the story is good enough that I can’t put it down then I feel no need to slow down or stop. The only book I remember intentionally going through slowly was the third Hunger Games book because I didn’t want the series to end. Like you, I’m a re-reader of favorites, maybe people who don’t re-read would tend to fall more in the “savoring” category?

  4. Sara K. says:

    I’m usually a speed reader. Like you said, I often save the savoring for the second read. Yes, I too acknowledge that I likely miss some details, but I just can’t help it. When a book is that good, I just have to read!

    I will say, with the Outlander series, I found myself savoring the last couple of books more so than the first several. Partly it is because we have to wait sooooooo long in between books (average of 5 years for the last few), but mostly it is because they are just so very detailed. If I try to read fast I find myself lost later in the book not remembering who a certain person is or what they did earlier in the book 🙂 When MOBY came out in June, it took me a full month to make my way through it. And I’m glad I took my time!

    And series are my most favorite books! When I fall in love with characters I just don’t want them to go away!

    • Anne says:

      “When I fall in love with characters I just don’t want them to go away!”


      And five years between books? Now I’m suddenly glad I put off starting Outlander till now. 🙂 Although I’ll be impatiently waiting with everyone else for book #9…

  5. First, Outlander!!! Gah!! I’m only part-way through book one (on Audio), and I’m thinking that for the sake of my working life, I will have to promise only to listen to them in the car. 🙂

    But I’m a speed reader for two reasons – if I love a book, I want to keep in that world for as long as possible. But two, I have so many books I want to read, that while I try to savor key things, I also want to read more books.

    • Anne says:

      Oh my goodness, I might need to make that deal with myself. But then again, the prospect of listening to another chapter is powerful motivation to run an extra mile, or fold an extra load of laundry. 🙂

      That’s a great point about quick reading making it possible to READ MORE BOOKS.

  6. Courtney says:

    Another speed reader here! If a book is great that I can’t put it down, I speed read it because I want to know what happens (I read the last Harry Potter book in a single day). Part of that is practical in that I don’t have unlimited time to read, and with a popular series like Harry Potter I want to avoid any type of spoilers. By reading the book in one day (and avoiding the Internet in the meantime), I can pretty much guarantee that the ending of the book won’t be spoiled. I do the same thing with TV shows, like when I was living overseas and couldn’t watch the Survivor finale live last year.

    Savoring the book is for the second time around, like with Jane Austen’s novels. I already know what happens, so I can take my time enjoying the language and the little details I may have missed the first time around. I enjoy doing that, too, because I still find something new each time, but it comes AFTER I’ve devoured the plot!

    • Anne says:

      Yes to the benefits of the re-read. I notice so much more when I already know the basic arc of the story.

      I just re-read Crossing to Safety (second reading, first re-reading) and it was so interesting how many things I noted as significant from the first pages on the re-reading that I hadn’t realized would turn out to be important on my first time through, when I was just getting oriented with the characters and trying to figure out what was going on.

  7. Laura says:

    I’ve tried to savor books. I really have. Unfortunately, my nature of wanting to know what happens next – as soon as possible – rears its head, and I am off tearing through another good book! Those that savor, my hat is off to you!

  8. Kelsey says:

    I’m a speed reader. Unfortunately, the only way I gets things done is by extreme binging. I like to call it good focus, but really I just get so obsessed with stories that I have to know what happens right now.

  9. Amy says:

    I think doing an English degree made me a speed reader – I can’t get out of the habit of trying to finish the book as quickly as possible. Setting myself a challenge on Goodreads probably doesn’t help, I want to get it done as fast as possible! However, if the book is good then I definitely go back and savour it the second time, and usually end up loving it more. I’ve just re-read Jane Eyre for the first time and enjoyed it so much more when I wasn’t racing to the end!

    • Anne says:

      Jane Eyre’s such a great example. I could definitely slow down and appreciate the language more on the second reading, when I knew how it was going to end. (And thankfully, it’s definitely one worth re-reading. 🙂 )

  10. Scott says:

    My wife told me about this post, because we have had this conversation numerous times throughout our marriage, because she is definitely a speed reader, and I am definitely a savorer. She does re-read her favorite books, though, which seems to be a theme in the comments so far with the “speed readers.”

    For me, I sometimes go back and re-read a paragraph if I feel like it was written really well, or if I really want to think about what the author is trying to say. I would be interested to know if your reading style is linked to your personality, or if it evolves from something different altogether…

    • Anne says:

      “I would be interested to know if your reading style is linked to your personality, or if it evolves from something different altogether…”

      What an interesting thought, and one worth exploring later. I’ve heard educators say that one’s natural reading speed is largely innate, like height or shoe size. But reading style could be something altogether different. I’m going to be pondering this.

  11. Colleen says:

    There’s a great interview with Diana Gabaldon in the Authors on Tour podcast (from several years ago). In it, she goes into an explanation about how the book came to be, and that was how she hooked me, too! It’s definitely worth a listen if you get a chance (and can find it.)

  12. I’m about 1/4 of the way through reading Outlander, but I’ve put it on the back burner for now because it’s our Dec/Jan pick for book club. I’ll probably start at the beginning again, it’s just that good. I’ve been savouring it. But I can speed through as well. In the past month, on at least three occasions, I’ve started a book after putting the kids to bed, and not put it down until I reached the last page (around 1am or so).

  13. Amy S says:

    I like the first one in the Outlander Series, but couldn’t get into number two! Should I give it another try? And because you said your to read list is so long, I might as well add another because it tops Outlander and any other fantasy book you have probably read recently….THE NAME OF THE WIND! Seriously, I even suckered my husband into it, and he ignored me for nights on end to read the entire series. Now that says something. 🙂 If you read it, you must let me know what you think (although you don’t know me from Adam).

    • Anne says:

      I hadn’t heard of The Name of the Wind before. Thanks for sharing!

      I read Outlander (#1) in paperback, and I did Dragonfly in Amber (#2) as an audiobook. The audiobook sucked me right in—the narration is so good on these. I’m not sure what the experience would have been like with the paperback, but I suspect I would have had to work harder to get into it.

    • Ronica Smith says:

      I don’t think this qualifies as a spoiler, but beware reading if you have a strict no-spoiler policy:

      Definitely give #2 another try. In a way I had a hard time getting into #2, but now I’m half way through and can’t put it down. I think it was just a shock to the system to have things so different than we left them. But after the “intro” of sorts, it picks right back up where we left off. That’s another reason I’m having a hard time putting it down. Now I know things that I shouldn’t know, and it makes me want to find out how they came to be.

      • Anne says:

        That’s good to hear. I’m on book 3, and at first I hated it when Gabaldon started introducing new characters—I wanted to hear about the old ones! But I got over it. 🙂

    • Shawna says:

      #2 takes a bit to get into, but it is VERY good once it gets going. For me, 5 was the slowest (the entire first third of the book or so is a single day), but it sets up a lot of important information for the ones after (which go much faster)

    • Becky says:

      I can second the thumbs up for The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss)…. I just finished it and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel! It is unique.

      Just started Crossing to Safety… was glad to hear it was good enough to re-read. I am liking it so far.

      I am a speed reader, re-reader. I lose myself in a book and when I find myself again, at books end, I look around, find a clock… and am surprised at how much time I was away.

  14. Jenn says:

    I’m a speed reader. But if its good enough I’ll read it a second time more slowly. And yes, I get obsessive about good series. Nothing else in life matters or gets done till I get to the very end. I have learned NOT to start a series I think I’ll love until I have a clear schedule.

    • Ronica Smith says:

      I try not to start a series I think I’ll love until there are more than a couple books out. Actually, it hasn’t really happened on purpose. I started Harry Potter when book #4 was out. I read through those so fast. And then had to wait. And the waiting is torture!

  15. Kira says:

    I picked Outlander up off of my Grandmother’s bookshelf about 15 years ago. I tore through what was written and it has remained the top series in my book lists:) When I try to explain it to people it just sounds soooo weird!! I am a speed reader and I too ripped right through Harry Potter, Hunger Games, LOTR, and quite a few large fantasy series as well. I always need to know what is going to happen right away!!! Glad you are loving Diana Gabaldon’s work. And isn’t Tana French’s work amazing?

  16. Ronica Smith says:

    I could have written this post. I typically fly through series and I’m having the hardest time not doing that with this one. I started the series about the same time you did. I’m currently just under half way through the second book. I want to slow down and savor it, and I’m doing that better than I have with past series, but still not as slow as I’d like. But I just can’t stop. This morning I carried my Kindle out to the garage and read while I fed the animals. Forget texting, I’m going to walk into walls because of my Kindle. I said the other day, “If I fail out of nursing school, I’m totally blaming it on Diana Gabaldon!”
    No more than a third of the way into the first book I was already grateful that the series is so long, because I didn’t want it to end just three short books away. And also thankful that they’re not short books by any means. I’m always excited to look at my Kindle and see that I still have so much left to read before the end!

  17. Tracey says:

    I am a fierce opponent to the speed reading perspective! 🙂 I had this very conversation with a group of my students last week! For my work, I read so much dense, thick, scholarly work, and often I have to read it quicker than I would like. Like many people who read this blog, I read for stress relief, enjoyment, and escape from daily life. The books I love the most, I cherish because they made me feel something during the reading. I am a savorer because I want to live the story with my characters. I have found that when I read more slowly and take in the story, my brain thinks about the characters long after the book is over. I find more meaning, more feeling, more connections with this kind of reading. Books that I have read quickly, stay with me for a short time, but a year later, I can only remember the basic parts of the story, which isn’t good enough – unless I didn’t like the book.

    • Anne says:

      Tracey, thanks for doing justice to the savorer perspective. I love the idea of “cherishing” favorite books, and how you’ve learned that when you read them slowly, they stay with you for a long time.

  18. Susans says:

    I am a savorer. Even if I’m dying to know the ending, it’s sad to come to the conclusion of a great book.

    BTW, now I’m curious which of those books you listed you are not inclined to read again.

    • Anne says:

      “Even if I’m dying to know the ending, it’s sad to come to the conclusion of a great book.”

      YES to this. (And it was The Hunger Games. Terrific plot, but not books I’m inclined to re-read.)

      • Danica says:

        Hunger Games was my guess too … I feel the same way about it. Loved many of the other series you mentioned (for re-reads as well). I will have to check out the ones I haven’t read. I read the Betsy-Tacy series just a couple of years ago for the first time. I am definitely more of a speed reader, especially when it comes to novels … I try to be more of a savorer with non-fiction books.

  19. Amy says:

    I guess I’d classify myself as a savorer, although what that really means is that I’m just a super slow reader with an OCD tendency to not miss a single word. It’s actually been a habit I’ve been struggling to break because I know I’m going to forget details regardless of whether I focus on catching every word or not, and sometimes I think I truly miss out on the experience by focusing more on single words and less on the overall ideas.

  20. A few things. First, I’ve followed a bit of Diane Gabaldon’s story over the years but had no idea OUTLANDER was her first attempt at a novel. That’s a huge credit to her storytelling skills that she was able to sell it. Good for her!

    I’ve read half of the series but lost steam when I didn’t have access to the next books. I’m at the point I’ll have to read again in order refresh myself.

    As for savoring, as an author, I have to confess I’m not overly fond of this idea! If someone is reading my books slowly, that feels like I haven’t done my work properly. The hope is a reader is unable to put your book down. Once it’s down, there’s always the chance it won’t be picked up again. Of course, not everyone can or will read a book in one sitting, but somehow savoring doesn’t feel like what I’m going for…or how many of us are currently encouraged to write.

    Even if it’s beautiful, even if there are big ideas to process, the hope is go, go, go and soak it in along the way. Perhaps this is a fiction thing?

    • Anne says:

      About Outlander being her first book: Right?? I loved her story of how it came into being.

      Caroline, that’s great food for thought on the other books. I’ve heard authors (all fictional authors—coincidence, or not?) say just what you did: if someone is reading slowly, they’re not doing their job. But of course there are books (I’m thinking Stegner, Berry, Austen) where I don’t want to miss a single word. And then there are authors (Dallas Willard springs immediately to mind) who write so compactly about such complex topics that I’m forced to read very, very slowly, just so I can understand. I love his writing, but it’s a weird experience for me to note my pace dropping to a crawl when reading his stuff.

    • Marci says:

      I too lose steam when I don’t have access to all the books in a series… or if I have to wait for the next book to come out. I read all the Twilight books in one weekend because a niece loaned me her set. The Harry Potter books took some re-reading to reacquaint me with the characters. I raced through 1 and 2 of the Outlander novels but am slow to start book 3 because I’m on the waiting book for book 4.

      So, short answer: it depends.

      I totally speed read through plot-driven books — I have to know what happens next — but savor more literary novels.

  21. Meghan says:

    If there is a book I am loving, I definitely save the savoring for the re-read. That being said, I love to reread books and if I didn’t, I would certainly try to savor them the first go round.

    And, speaking of Outlander, I personally think they get better as they go along! When I reread the first one now, I’m like, “yeah, yeah, yeah…get to the good stuff” 🙂 I think book #3 or #4 is my favorite.

  22. Susan says:

    Speed reader here. Or maybe more accurately, a compulsive reader. Often when I’m reading, I become so involved in the story that I can’t put the book down until the characters are “safe” and I can breathe a sigh of relief for them!

    • Kara says:

      I was just about to bring up the characters’ “safety” being a main factor in my speed reading tendencies! 🙂 Really though, they’re frozen in time when I close the book and are in great peril until I finish the story, right?

      • Kim says:

        Yes on the “safety” factor! I especially remember this with the novel Room for some reason. I wasn’t sure exactly what was going to happen, but I was trying to read them right out of that room!

  23. Meg says:

    I am generally a speed reader, especially with a plot-driven novel. I wanted to savor the last Harry Potter, but I just tore through it in a matter of hours! (I’ve since re-read it a few times, so there has been plenty of savoring as well.)

    Interestingly, though, I recently read In the Woods, and as much as I enjoyed it (and wanted to tear through it), I found myself enjoying a slower pace. Maybe it was how it was written–there was so much in there to unpack. By the last 30 pages, though, I had picked up the pace (and then I re-read those pages again later).

    I just picked up Outlander from the library, and I am a few chapters in. As highly recommended as this series has been (especially here), I am not at all sure whether I’m going to see this through. Since the series has been mentioned yesterday and today here, I will continue to read it. I think I am wary of overly high expectations!

    • Anne says:

      There are plenty of good books to read, so don’t feel like you have to stick with it just because others liked it. But I’m (mostly) listening to the audio versions, and good gracious, are they addictive. I’ve heard a lot of readers say it took them longer to get into the print version.

    • Sara K. says:

      I have always recommended that people give Outlander a minimum of 100 pages. The story requires some set up with Frank and her initial meeting with the MacKenzies. Once she gets to castle Leoch it picks up more 🙂

      And I absolutely love Davina Porter’s narration on audio!

  24. It totally depends on the book for me. With some literary fiction especially where word choice is important (most recently Paul Harding) I take my time (although I’m still a naturally fast reader). With fast-paced or genre fiction such as a mystery, I read more quickly.

  25. Mia says:

    Depends on what I’m reading– fiction I also zip through at breakneck speed, but nonfiction I savour, deliberately pacing & restraining myself for the sake of comprehension & retention.

  26. Krista says:

    I’m a savorer. I’m in book 3 of the Outlander series – it is so good! I love getting lost in other worlds. My reading time is while nursing my 1 year old and lying down getting my 4 year old to sleep.

  27. Arenda says:

    I’m usually a savourer, especially when it comes to classic novels – I love to enjoy the nuances of excellent writing. But this past week I savoured books 1 and 2 of the Emily of New Moon series, and then tore through book 3 in one day, so anxious/heartsick to see how it ended! (And it didn’t help that there’s a lot of waiting around in book 3.)

    I’m going to guess you haven’t re-read The Hunger Games . . .

    • Anne says:

      I completely understand tearing through the third Emily book. Now that you know how it ends, you can pay more attention on the re-read, if you choose. And you’re right about The Hunger Games. 🙂

  28. Simone says:

    Oh my goodness! My friend, Anna, introduced me to these novels years ago and I was so hooked. I don’t remember if I fed my family or bathed for days on end. Lol! I consumed and I was consumed by these books. I don’t know if I got past book 5. If I remember correctly there are some scenes . . . but goodness . . . what a story. It was pure salve for this new mama’s soul.

  29. Steph says:

    Speed reader for sure. If there’s a good plot line I tear through books. Occasionally I find I miss some details in my hurry but that’s what a second reading is for. 🙂

  30. Melodee says:

    I love what C.S. Lewis has to say about this topic: he was a big proponent of re-reading good books, and he wrote in “On Stories”: “We do not enjoy a story fully at the first reading. Not till the curiosity, the sheer narrative lust, has been given its sop and laid asleep are we at leisure to savor the real beauties.” I just love that phrase “sheer narrative lust” — that is what makes us fly through a gripping book to see what happens next! We don’t have leisure to savor until that is put to rest. 🙂

    Personally, it really depends on the type of book for me. I have certainly gobbled up many books, but by nature am probably more of a savorer.

  31. Karlyne says:

    I’d like to be a savorer, but I’m a galloper. Even on re-reads (I’m not only a fan of Lewis’ writing, but of his advice), I start out slowly, enjoying each word and then, by about page 2, I find myself galloping along in utter enjoyment of the “sheer narrative lust” I’m experiencing.

  32. Sarah M says:

    I am definitely a speed reader. I actually don’t read fiction that much, but series like Harry Potter (that’s my guess to your above question) I could read books like that series over and over. I’ve heard of Highlander, but I haven’t put it on my list yet. Normally the only books I truly love to savor and go slowly through are spiritual memoirs or theology books. For instance, I love Madeleine L’Engle and anything by Anne Lamott. Those I *try* to read slowly, write down favorite quotes, ruminate. 🙂
    Sarah M

  33. Anna says:

    In general, I’m a speed reader. I’ll also stay up way too late reading “just a little more.” One more chapter, one more section, something… Every once in awhile, when a new book comes out from a series I love or an author I love, I’ll make myself read it more slowly so that it lasts longer.

  34. Liza Lee Grace says:

    I am a total speed reader. I read the entire Hunger Games trilogy in a day and a half. Last year, I got sick enough that all I could do was lay on the couch. In those three days, I read the entire Percy Jackson series, the Leviathan trilogy, and The Graveyard Book.

    This year, I read the Harry Potter series in a week (Eight days, actually: I had one busy day with not much reading time.)

    I do slow down my pace occasionally. I read The Lord of the Rings books this summer and had to drastically slow down my pace to be able to understand what all was happening. It took me four days to finish each book. I also had to drastically slow down to read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (there is so much goodness in it, reading too fast makes it easy to miss it all). I read the others in that series faster, but it was a struggle to get myself to slow down enough to properly savor them.

    I will say that while I do sometimes (*cough* often *cough*) ignore household duties in order to read, for The Lord of the Rings and Fairyland books, I did not. I kept my regular schedule and did not shirk any mom duties in order to read. I read whenever there was some downtime. And I still read them in the time span of a few of days each.

    I do agree that some books are meant to be savored. There are books in which reading too fast will cause you to miss things. I can usually tell while I’m reading when I need to slow down. But I’m still relatively fast even when I slow down.

  35. Ana says:

    I’m a speed reader–so much so that I often read the ends of books first (I know, I know, it’s a sickness, I’ve tried to stop, but I can’t!). While I intend to reread books I really enjoy, my to-read list is just too long–the siren’s call of new unread books is stronger than books I’ve read and liked. Although the few worn out classics that I love and manage to reread every few years do reveal different things as my perspective and age changes,

  36. Jamie says:

    I love this topic! And I’ve been stalking you on Pinterest for a while, so I should comment. I’m a total savorer. I read every word. If it is totally gripping, I will tear through it in a couple of days, but that is usually because I completely ignore other things like people. And chores. And sleeping. Not because I read quickly. I really like reading here!

  37. I’m a speed reader for novels but a savourer for non-fiction unless it’s memoir-type stuff. I FLY through novels which is why I used to (pre-Kindle) never buy novels and only get them from the library 🙂

    • PS I never re-read books unless I forgot I read them in the first place… but then I remember about 10% in when things start to feel familiar.

      Although I do have a few novels I’ve kept because I loved reading them so much – The Painted House, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, etc.

  38. Phaedra says:

    Speed reader here and not afraid to admit it. I want to be a savorer, but that only comes with a second (or third) reading and those only happen if I feel the book had an essence of timeliness to begin with because I’m not generally known to re-read. Too many books, too little time.

  39. Kelly says:

    I’m a speed reader too. My husband shakes his head when I finish a book in 2 days when it takes him more like 2 weeks to read the same book. And I don’t think I’ve ever re-read a book – too many books on my to-be-read list to go back and read ones I’ve already read.

  40. Kirsten says:

    Oh, most definitely a speed reader here. (As an aside, I actually taught legitimate speed reading as well, and though I don’t ever use it for pleasure reading, it’s wonderful for studying and required reading.) However, I’ve never been able to be a savorer, and I’m fine with that! I am very willing to re-read books that deserve it, though, and I can slow down more the second (or eighth) time. For me, if I try to slow down too much I tend to get distracted, and now that I have children, I also want to make the most of the reading windows I have.

    Since your post about grown ups and abandoning books, I’m learning how to do that as well. It’s tough for me, as I feel like I may be missing what others loved in those last few pages. But my ever-expanding to-read list is making it easier to walk away when I’m not enjoying a book.

    And…now I’ve added the Outlander series to my list. No clue how I missed those before! Thanks…I think.

  41. Jennifer H says:

    I’m usually a speed reader – in fact, sometimes I skim (or even skip!) whole sections. For instance, I never read sex scenes, and sometimes I feel lengthy descriptions get in the way of the story (pages and pages on finances and economy in the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, anyone?).

    That said, I have become a savorer during read-aloud time. This actually has led me to encourage abandoning more books as I realize they are not “great” books, as well as to enjoy a great book more than I would have if read to myself.

  42. Anna Neumann says:

    Hmm… I think it depends on the book for me. Some books that really “speak” to me, I tend to savor it. However, if it is an action/suspense/mystery filled book, no one can stop me from flipping through the pages as fast as I can. I am naturally a slow reader, but I can see a change in the speed of my reading if it happens to be an “exciting” book. Thank you for such an interesting argument! I would have never have thought about “speed-reading” in such a way. Have a lovely day!

    Anna Neumann from The Whistling Willow

  43. Cheri says:

    Hi Anne. I kinda new to your site, and appreciate your insights re: various books.
    Anyhow, I’m usually a fast reader, so I force myself to slow down when I really love a book. I rarely read books more than once, because there is so little time. I just started listening to audiobooks, and am finding that the narration is much slower than I would read, but also, so very enjoyable. I say, if it’s for pleasure, slow down and enjoy it.

    • Anne says:

      “I just started listening to audiobooks, and am finding that the narration is much slower than I would read, but also, so very enjoyable.”

      AGREED. I can read much faster than I can listen. This makes audiobooks frustrating at times, but mostly, I like that they force me to slow down. I need that sometimes. 🙂

      • Tory says:

        I’m coming late to this discussion but wanted to point out that you can listen on DOUBLE SPEED, at least with the android app 🙂 I listen to almost all books that way, so single speed now feels painfully slow to me.

  44. Wendy says:

    Speed Reader here too. I find the more I like a book the faster I go. I do re-read good books and usually find new things that I missed the first time.

  45. MelissaJoy says:

    Speed reading is not a consistent pattern for me although I do have my moments. The Hunger Games was the most recent and I was tripping over the words to get to the end and ignoring most of my responsibilities in the meantime. Admittedly, it was exhilarating to steal moments and be swept away in the story.

    Savoring suits me best. I have three books or so going at once and I read them at designated times in the day. If I didn’t do this I don’t think I a) would read as much, b) enjoy a variety of topics, and c) keep a commonplace book. My adolescence was not filled with book reading for pleasure and perhaps that is how I have found myself in this seemingly boring camp of enjoying literature. Whatever it takes 🙂

    In my opinion, you have a tremendous gift! You are able to recommend to both savorers and speed readers. Currently I am reading Crossing to Safety because of your recommendation. These characters are so rich.

    • Anne says:

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying Crossing to Safety! It’s one of my favorites. (And not one I could speed read. Stegner’s writing is a bit dense; my brain just can’t compute it at high speeds.)

  46. Leigh Kramer says:

    I savor nonfiction. Well-written fiction is meant to be devoured. It doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to a well-crafted sentence or consider plot construction or character development. I do all these things. But I want to know where the story is going and how it ends and if I don’t want to know that, then it’s not a book for me. I haven’t reread the Outlander books yet but I know I will one day and I’m sure I’ll tear through them just as quickly but I’ll also pick up other details along the way. I look forward to it. Now back to the To Read pile…

  47. Steph J says:

    I’m one of those awful people that will flip to the last pages of the book–can’t help myself–and nobody believes me that I find a book just as interesting (or moreso) when I know the ending pages because its fun to watch how events unfold to get to that place. Or if it was a book I was contemplating quitting, it may help me to either give it another go or not feel badly for abandoning it. If I force myself not to do it (e.g., I promised a friend who knows my tendencies that I wouldn’t), I sometimes find myself reading faster than I should and missing important things.

    I find it challenging and rewarding to read books that make me take a bit a slower (like Gilead) or are not necessarily linear where reading the end doesn’t mean much to me.

    • Simone says:

      I must admit that I do the same sometimes, but only if the suspense is intense. I just can’t take extreme intensity. I don’t think it’s good for my heart. 😉

    • Anna says:

      I almost always read the end first. How else do you know if the books is worth reading? I’ve been listening to audiobooks lately, & I can’t do that with them. 🙂

      • Anne says:


        I completely understand why some readers read the ending first, but I will never, ever do it. At least not anytime soon. Stranger things have happened, though, I’m sure. 🙂

        • Becky says:

          The only time I read the ending is when I am not liking the book and starting to resent it for taking time away from my next read. Once or twice the ending convinced me to keep plugging away at the book. I did not regret this. Mostly, though, the ending satisfied whatever lingering curiosity I had and let me set aside the book I was not enjoying.

  48. Tessa~ says:


    -hanging head in shame-

    Speed reader…


    But it is cool to re-read a favorite book, and enjoy it more, the 2nd time. 🙂 I wonder if I would, if I had read it the first time, more slowly?<–Weak excuse I know. lol.

    Gentle hugs,
    "Here there be musing" blog

  49. Carolyn says:

    I often read a book very fast, because I want (need, hee, hee) to know the ending. But if it is a very good book, I will go back and read it more slowly, just to enjoy the character development, the descriptions of scenery, clothing, food, etc. Sometimes I want to ‘live with’ the characters for a longer time.

  50. Vanessa says:

    Speed read, for sure. If I read a book too slow, I know there’s something not sitting right with me — because if I like it, I will want to finish it ASAP to know what happens.

  51. Elizabeth S. says:

    I sped through the Outlander series!!! I could not put them down at all! It was a thirst to find out what happened next! I will definitely be rereading them but can’t decide if I want to start now or after I get through more stuff on my to read list (which is greatly inspired by your suggestions right now).

    I would say normally I speed read but there are times I take my time or the book starts out slower but overall if I like it I speed through!

  52. K says:

    I am definitely a speed-reader the first time I read a book or series – I just have to know what happens next! What I’ll usually do though (if I feel the story deserves it), is I’ll return to the boom or series a little later on (months or years later usually) and re-read them at a more leisurely pace – I know what is going to happen, so I’m in no rush and I can take my time to savour the details.
    Outlander is definitely one of my favourite series, I discovered it in high school and read the first 6 books (all that was out at the time). I sort of forgot about the series unail I saw the announcement of the TV adaption – and now I’m re-reading them 🙂

  53. Sara says:

    I read pretty fast but am nonetheless a savorer. I’ll read a lovely sentence or even a great paragraph several times. Although I appreciate them, I don’t regularly turn to plot-driven books. When I do, they’re normally gone in a day. Unless something is truly excellent, I rarely re-read. Since I hardly ever finish anything that isn’t good, I’m always sad to see most books I read end. :’-(

  54. liz n. says:

    Although I am a ridiculously fast reader, I find that several things determine how fast I read a book: 1. The pace and tone of the book, itself; 2. The kind of reading (prose vs. poetry vs. technical, reading for pleasure vs. mandatory reading for work and such); 3. Whether or not I like the book.

    1: HP, for example. I read the first four in no more than a day, but with the last three being darker by turn, I read them more slowly.
    2. I’m in the middle of a very good text about bookbinding, but because it is technical, I am reading it very slowly.
    3. I tore through both MOHB and All on Fire, a biography of William Lloyd Garrison, in three days. Just could not put them down! On the other hand, I detest Lady Chatterly’s Lover, and after my third attempt to try to understand why people love this book, I will never pick it up again. I read a bit here, a bit there, made myself read for an hour straight, you name it…took a week to get through this thing. I think it’s taken me at least a week to read it every time I’ve picked it up.

    • Anne says:

      I like your bulletpoints. In this post, I talked about the books I LOVE that I read quickly, but I also have a different kind of speed-reading mode I fall into when I dislike a book, but can’t quite bring myself to abandon it, so I just try to get it over with as soon as possible. That’s a different kind of reading than the fast reading I do when I’m hooked on the story.

  55. Sonja says:

    I switch back and forth! I prefer to be a savorer. Sometimes reading fiction is a way I numb (good term from Brene Brown) or escape (kind of like your post re: Dear Mr. Knightley). Then I’m usually speedreading, and not enjoying the book. Off to savor a book now. 🙂

  56. Denielle says:

    Once I’m hooked on a plot or character, I’m a speed reader/rereader. I generally don’t go in for a second read based on entertainment value alone though. I think my impulse to reread only kicks in if I’m especially floored by the politics and/or the mechanics. And then rereading is less like savouring and more like taking something apart to see how it was put together.

  57. Kelli says:

    Most often a speed reader, unless the story hasn’t pulled me in and I’m reading just to get to the end so I know what happens (I tend to be a finisher also!)

    One of the disadvantages I’ve discovered to speed reading is that I’m often finishing books at 1 or 2 am, and when they’re difficult books, it can be hard to be left with that feeling, in the dark and somehow having to go to sleep with it. I finished Code Name Verity at 1:30 am a few days ago and I had to turn all the lights on for a while before I could go to sleep 🙂 .

    And I totally agree with what you said about hating when authors introduce new characters… it’s the old ones that I’ve connected with and I want to know what happens to them! I’ve thought about this within the realm of “women’s fiction” series (that gives me a break after I’ve read something really deep or disturbing), and how the trend is to introduce a town and the people and then focus on someone new in each book. I want more about the original ones!

  58. Donna says:

    I plowed through The Goldfinch because I loved it so much. But afterwards I wished I’d savored it more, even taken notes, because books like that don’t come along very often for me.

  59. Lisa says:

    I tend to be a hybrid–if I’m into a good book, it’s hard for me to put it down and I devour it. However, I often slow down near the end of a really good book so I can draw out the experience longer. Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye to a book that captures your heart.

  60. Shelsy says:

    Oooooooh! I’m so happy you love Outlander. *happy dance* It was the first book/series I fell madly in love with when I was in high school. I was worried you would think it was trash or something. It’s been too long since I’ve read it… I might just have to pick it up again.

    I watched the first episode of the new tv show on starz and actually really liked him, even though I hate the casting for Jamie (he’s supposed to be tall with flaming red hair!) I haven’t decided if I’ll watch the rest of them or not.

    I’m a speed reader too. When I get into the story I find myself actually skimming the page to get to the exciting moments. It’s like I can’t handle the anxiety of not knowing for ONE MORE SECOND. Even on re-reads I have a hard time slowing down. There are very few books that I savor, probably mostly nonfiction where I read a chapter or section at a time to digest before moving on.

  61. Carolyn says:

    Oh wow, comment encyclopedia. I had to scroll forever to get down here! I am a savorer and a re-reader. I’ve never been able to understand how one could skim and speed read yet still ingest all the allegories, meanings and life symbols- soaking up these things about the characters, or enjoying the author’s writing style is like sipping a coffee or enjoying each bite of a decadent dessert. Why would you shove it all into your mouth at once just to see the bottom of the cup or plate? Just the p.o.v of a super slow savorer 🙂

  62. Jesabes says:

    Oh I have to know what’s going to happen. Immediately. I can tell I really like a book when I catch myself speed reading and even missing a few details. I hate that I’m missing things and even try to slow down, but I can’t.

  63. AH says:

    the first time around, I would speed read [the way I did for The Hunger Games for instance ] but then I would read the books again to savor them.

  64. Melody says:

    I’m going to guess the series not worth a reread is The Hunger Games ;).
    I am a savorer of nonfiction, but a relatively quick reader of fiction. Like you, I just can’t put it down if it is well-written. Right now I am reading the second book of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children. I really like this (2-book) series. You’ve intrigued me now to check out the Outlander series.

      • Kathy Grey says:

        Anne, I just re-read The Hunger Games series and totally enjoyed it! I am a speed reader and a re-reader. I enjoy your writing and have added several of your recommendations to my list…sigh. Keep up the great work!

  65. Karlyne says:

    I notice from the bazillion comments here that most people think that fast readers aren’t reading most or all of the words. I’m not sure of the science here, but I do know that I see every typo, grammatical mis-usage, punctuation issue, and spelling error no matter how fast I’m reading!

  66. Maryalene says:

    I think I am probably a savorer, largely because I know I’ll never read the book again. In fact, I can’t think of any book I’ve reread as an adult. Not because they aren’t good enough to reread but because there are so many other titles waiting to be read!

  67. Wendy says:

    A few months ago I picked up a book that I absolutely devoured… Only to find that the next in the 3-book series isn’t due out until January 2015! Torture! (It was The Bone Season, by Samantha Shannon. I’m not sure if you’re into science fiction, but if you are, this one was very engaging!) I’ve done that with many others, including Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, and my favorite guilty-nerdy-pleasure series The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey.
    I have to be careful with fiction, because I tend to devour most modern stuff, to the detriment of my other life responsibilities! Memoir and nonfiction I’m better about savoring and reading slowly, mostly because I like to underline and mark up my books.
    I’ve been hearing about the Outlander series for years… It seems to be experiencing a resurgence lately. I might have to give it a try 🙂

        • Anne says:

          YES. I’ve asked authors how they feel about spending years writing a book only to have readers blaze through it in a matter of days. They’ve all said, to a one, that they’re great with that outcome. Somewhere in a Stegner novel there’s a quote that goes something like, “Slow writing makes for fast reading.”

  68. Alison says:

    Anne, it’s so funny that you’ve posed this question in light of starting to read the Outlander series – I first read Cross Stitch (the original title of Outlander) in 2000, and burned through the first four books in no time, then had to wait with great anticipation as each successive book was released. I feel like I’ve grown-up with Claire and Jamie to some degree, as I was 23 when I started the series and they’ve been with me for most of my adult reading life. I even nominated them as my favourite literary couple on your blog a while back 🙂
    What’s intriguing for me about this post, is that it was when I went to read My Own Heart’s Blood a couple of months ago that I realised just how much of a speed reader I am, because I couldn’t remember a lot of An Echo in the Bone, and knew I needed to refresh my memory. As I started re-reading AEITB, I realised just how much of the whole story I had ‘lost’ over time, and decided to start again, from the beginning – especially as the TV series of Outlander was about to begin here in Australia. So I started again from the beginning, and I am so, so glad for it.
    I have savoured Outlander this time, and it has been like reading it anew in some respects. Because it’s been 14 years since the first time I ‘met’ the characters, taking the time to get to know them again and move a lot more slowly through the story has brought them all to life again, but at the same time it’s been like catching up with old friends. Watching the series come to life on screen has added a whole new dimension to the experience (even if there are some adaptations at the discretion of the series writer, director, etc).
    Reflecting on reading this series has made me realise just how much I do speed through things, because like you, I want to know what happens (which I am currently doing with The Lunar Chronicles, thanks to you!), but how much I can miss by not stopping and dwelling at times. I’m actually ok with that – with the books I love, I love going back again, and strolling as opposed to running – and when the writing’s good, especially when it’s very, very good, there’s always something new to discover, new to learn and new to love. I can’t complain about that 🙂

    • liz n. says:

      With all the territory–literally and figuratively–that Gabaldon covers in each book, and the amount of time between releases, you can forget so much! With Outlander, I always read the last book again right before I read the newest one….which reminds me that I used to read all of the HP books right before the newest one came out!

    • Anne says:

      The original title was Cross Stitch? I’m gaping at that, and so glad they changed it!

      Love your reflections on growing up with series, and knowing when it’s time for a re-read. Glad you’re enjoying your slow pace this time. (And I can completely understand blazing through The Lunar Chronicles. 🙂 )

      • Pauline says:

        I’m rather partial to Cross Stitch myself. It makes complete sense as a metaphor for time travel. But I totally get why it was changed for the US market, the book wouldn’t fit well in the knitting aisle!

        I’m also the proud owner of an old UK version of Cross Stitch from the late 90s that has, as stated by Diana Gabaldon Herself, a real ugly woman with wild Claire!Hair on it. Every subsequent book, which I also own, has that same horrible wild-haired woman on it. It’s completely inexplicable, ugly and oddly hilarious. I do dream of owning a better looking version some day, and as some of the pages are starting to fall off, it might be sooner rather than later!

    • Anna says:

      Can’t believe the original title was “Cross Stitch”!! Outlander is so much better. I started reading them in 2009. I feel like it’s time to go back and reread them all. 🙂

  69. Anna says:

    I tend to be more of a speed reader- especially when I get hooked on a series. With non-fiction, I tend to take it slower: re-read sections, think about it, discuss it with people, etc.

  70. Monica says:

    This is an interesting subject because I have been able to read books extremely fast (Harry Potter and the Hunger Games to name a few) because the action drew me in so completely that I didn’t want to do anything else. However, I’m a fairly slow reader, and I do like to savor books. At the moment, I’m reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, and I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a slow reader or if I simply haven’t had enough time to devote to it, but it’s taken me a long time to get through it. I kept up with my reading challenge last year and this year until I moved and got a new job, and now I’m behind and it’s making me agitated. However, I just remind myself to savor it and to read for the love of reading and not because I set a goal for myself, especially now that my lifestyle has changed so much so fast. Outlander has been on my list for a long time, and I was hesitating to read it until my reading challenge was over, but now that I’m already behind, I might start sooner than I planned.

  71. Miriam Kahn says:

    I wouldn’t call myself a speed-reader. I love to savour the words, the rhythm, and the sound of words as I read. That doesn’t mean I don’t devour books.
    I read a few at a time, some for review and some for me. And I’m always listening (I review audiobooks by the earful).
    Most of all, books are my friends in my crazy, hectic life, so I savour my time with them.

  72. Courtney says:

    I am a super fast reader myself. I tend to speed through fiction titles and I have to make it a point to savor nonfiction. Which, I’m guessing, is probably why nonfiction isn’t my favorite.

  73. Jess says:

    Curious about your thoughts on Outlander now that you have read it all and time has elapsed (I know you’ve shared some before). I also read them in 2015. And I have to say they started out fantastic, but I am just not into that much sex and sometimes words and descriptions that seemed like she was striving to hit 1000 page books. My favorite one was the first, and then after the first 4 they seemed to rapidly not excite me. I finished them, and will probably read her next one because I’ve invested so much of my life in them, but they aren’t something I get really excited about and recommend to friends.

    • Anne says:

      Voyager was my favorite, the next few after that felt LONG. But I enjoyed MOBY and will definitely pick up the next one, whenever it (finally!) comes out.

  74. Kim says:

    Definitely a speed reader. My mom taught me to read before I started kindergarten and I don’t know if it’s because of how she taught me to read, or if that was just my natural bent. And I, too, devour good series when I find them. Blew through the first 8 Inspecter Gamache books (by Louise Penny) in less than 2 months. Have since read the 9th and 10th but have to hold off on the most recent because I’ve completely busted my book budget 🙂 We’ll be going back to the U.S. this summer and that’s at the top of my (very long) list of books to check out of the public library 🙂

  75. Beth says:

    For me it totally depends on which book it is. Some I want to savor. Like Gilead. Others, I’m just excited to enjoy the romp and get to the ending. I just finished The Nightingale, and that was much more of a fast-paced, I-want-to-find-out-what-happens type book for me.

  76. RW says:

    I’m more of a speed reader, I become so enveloped in a book, that I am transported into it, reality changes. I recently read The Long Walk, by Richard Bachman, in one sitting, because the characters never stopped, I couldn’t either.

  77. Bridget says:

    Gosh, it depends. If I find a new series, I can speed through it. But I also love savoring. I read The Green Mile years ago. I am not a Stephen King fan at all. This book was SO out of my comfort zone. But the darn thing grabbed me and sucked me in. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed at 2:00 am rocking and reading as fast as possible. I was just driven to find out what happened.

    I do find that when I reread a book or series, I tend to savor.

  78. Sandra says:

    It depends on the author & type of book, I often speed read mysteries to discover whodunit. With certain authors, Pat Conroy & Anne Tyler as examples, I savor their language & phrasing. Call me crazy but sometimes I postpone reading a beloved series book, right now, the latest Louise Penny, because I like the anticipation & knowing it’s waiting there to be devoured.

    • Anne says:

      “Sometimes I postpone reading a beloved series book, right now, the latest Louise Penny, because I like the anticipation & knowing it’s waiting there to be devoured.”

      I admire this, and understand why people do it, but I lack the patience or self-control or whatever it is that’s needed to pull it off myself!

  79. Doret P says:

    It depends on the book or series. I tore through A Cat in the Stack mysteries by Miranda James because I felt I was almost participating in the story themselves. However, books written by William P. Young, like “The Shack,” needs to be savored with passages re-read and possibly having the whole book read again.

  80. Kimber-Leigh says:

    It depends–I am naturally a fast reader, but my speed usually depends on the subject matter as well. I’ll speed read through lighter more “fun” reads, but I savor books (and go more and more slowly towards the end!) of books that I really love either for the content or mastery of language. This summer, that was my experience with both All the Light You Cannot See as well as Under the Tuscan Sun…I read them slowly as I sat by our newly-adopted son’s crib reading to myself until he would fall asleep for his nap. (Now that I’m no longer having to do that–it’s a special memory!)

    When it comes to series, it also depends. I am savoring the Louise Penny series after you introduced it to me through the summer list this past year. I’m choosing to go slowly because I enjoy them so much. Series that have cliffhangers though–I like to read them after they’ve all been published so I can go through them all at once (usually in a matter of days!)

  81. B J says:

    I’m obviously not an intelligent reader of good taste, because if I am enjoying a book, all I want to do is sit and read until it is finished. Then I mourn that there is no more to read and if I really enjoyed the book, I have a hard time choosing my next book. If I am not enjoying a book so much, then it is easy to put it aside and go on to something else.

  82. Rachel says:

    Perfect timing for this throwback post since I just finished the first book in the Outlander series! Like everyone else, I flew threw it and was DYING to watch the show on Starz. After raving about the book to my bf, he started watching the series with me and now thinks I’m loony.

    The TV show is tortuously slow-paced! Plus, they’ve adding a bunch of unnecessary, drawn-out scenes that aren’t in the book. Has anyone else seen it?? I’m curious what others thought…

  83. Julie says:

    I always speed the first time through any book. If it’s good enough to keep me hooked (I am also definitely an abandoner!!) I want to know what happens. But if it’s really well written, I will always, always go back and savor favorite chapters or lines. An example is “Dept. of Speculation” by Jenny Ofill. I flew through the first reading, because I was enthralled. The minute I finished, I wiped away my tears and flipped back to page one, and read it again slowly.

  84. Mia says:

    Both! I’m a gluttonous speed reader in that when enrapt by a great book I will binge read every spare second until I’ve finished, but I savor it slowly as I do. Gosh, does that make any sense?? lol I read slowly but steadily, finishing quickly only because of my steadfast marathon approach. 🙂

  85. Cheryl V. says:

    I honestly think you can be both. I am a really fast reader. I constantly get comments about it. But I truly savor every book as well, I just happen to read quickly. I think each brain just works differently and some can savor quickly and some want to do it more slowly. Nothing wrong with either.

  86. Dana says:

    Depends on the book. I speed read and re-read all of Harry Potter, finishing each book in a day. Other books, I like to savor and read slowly, Wendell Berry, for instance. I rend to speed read fantasy, mysteries, YA and light “chick-lit-ish” books. I read slower when I am reading non-fiction ( if I am truly trying to learn something). I tend to re-read and mark/highlight in that genre. Books on writing and books on faith also tend to be slower reads fro me. Some classics take closer reading when the language or construction is a bit arcane, Dickens or Shakespeare, for instance. if I am really into a book, though I will binge read…Kate Morton and Sarah Addison Allen come to mind. But then I am sorry for the book to be over so quickly because it is a long wait for the next one.

  87. Melanie says:

    I’m a speed reader, always have been. I don’t try to read quickly, that’s just my natural pace. I love that I’m able to read so many books each year, but the downside is that I don’t always have the best recall of what I’ve read. My comprehension while I’m reading is just fine, but the details of one book get pushed out by the 10 others that come after it. Thank goodness for Goodreads and the ability to track what I read. I also got a stack of these great bookmarks that have those page flag stickers. In order to better remember what I read I’ve made it a point to flag significant passages and ideas and then write book reviews on Goodreads and/or my blog.

    I do enjoy going back to my favorites for a re-read. (Although sometimes it’s hard to get myself to re-read when there are so many great books out there I haven’t read yet.) I’m not sure if my reading speed actually changes when I re-read, but my focus is different. Instead of wondering what’s going to happen next, I have the leisure to think more about the characters or the language.

    • Anne says:

      I enjoy re-reading for the same reasons. And sometimes the story feels like it unfolds so differently when you know the shape from the beginning.

  88. Heather says:

    I definitely savor books. I read to learn, to enrich myself, and to stretch my mind. So I am picky about what I will spend my time reading. Having said that, I get through quite a few books. Put me on an airplane with my Kindle, and Bam, read and done.
    Although I adore a quick mystery (Inspector Gamache, thanks Anne) I also like to wade slowly through meatier books where the writing is so good that skimming would be an injustice (War and Peace, the original Moby Dick). I only reread a few old favorites.
    I am methodical and intentional about pretty much everything in life, so no wonder I savor books. I, too, am a compulsive proofreader, and I love to study how words and sentences are crafted.

    • Anne says:

      I hear you on this. I’ve blasted through several series (like the ones mentioned above) but there are other books that I have read s-l-o-w-l-y, because the books themselves seem to demand it. Recent reads in this category include H is for Hawk and Four Seasons in Rome.

  89. Molly says:

    I remember waiting for Harry Potter books 4,5,6, and 7 to come out, and tearing through them all in two days or less. (Half-Blood Prince took an extra day, because a family party interrupted my reading binge, and I had to take a day off of work to finish it.) I’m now reading the series out loud to my kids, and we are up to The Goblet of Fire. I am catching many details that I missed the first time through. I am thinking of switching to the Jim Dale audio books for the next three, so I can savor not only the detail of the stories, but also his performance.

  90. Susan says:

    I’m neither a speed-reader nor a savorer! My reading speed is probably “medium”. It sure seems I’m in the minority, though! I don’t like to rush through books, but when I’m reading suspense and I’m eager to find out what happens next, I find myself turning the “page” of my Kindle before I’ve finished the current page! Then, darn, I have to turn it back again!! I’m not a big re-reader, but I do want to re-read some books I read as a young teen – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Jane Eyre, Rebecca, etc.

  91. Mary Kate says:

    I’m totally a speed-reader too–I’m currently in the middle of The Grisha Trilogy and reading it every spare second I get. I do wish I read more slowly sometimes, because I’m also a writer, so I’m trying to learn from the good books I read. I have to force myself sometimes to stop and notice certain things that work about the writing, the characters, etc. But then I’m right back to speed-reading my way through the story.
    However, I’m also a re-reader. If I love a book, I’ll go back and read it at some point and notice things the second time around that I didn’t the first. I’ve read Harry Potter I don’t know how many times, along with all of Tana French’s novels (I am pretty sure I can tell you what happened in In The Woods if you like!)

  92. Marie says:

    I can read quickly, but when reading for pleasure, I am most definitely a savorer. I’ll often read a paragraph twice just to admire a turn of phrase or let a plot twist sink in. Mostly, though, I’m trying to prolong the experience. I tend to read a bit every night, and I really enjoy having that current alternate world waiting for me once work, dishes, etc., are done.

    It just occurred to me that I am also not really a series person. I wonder if readers who get hooked on series tend to be speedier, since there’s more to look forward to?

  93. Kim says:

    I love that you referenced Outlander. I’m reading the series for the first time. I was telling a friend last week, “that I want to savor it it but at the same time I want to know what happens next”. Her response was the same “read through it quickly the first time and then go back and reread it to savor”.

    • Alison says:

      Kim, that is exactly what I’m doing! I first started the series in 2000, and when I began re-reading it in 2014 it was like catching up with old friends again 🙂 I decided to start from the beginning again because when WIMOHB came out, I realised there was a lot of the story I had probably forgotten, so figured I’d just start again ?

  94. Ruth-Anne Hayes says:

    I normally devour books of any category. They suck me in and I can’t get enough. And there is never a shortage on my nightstand! ♡

  95. Cat says:

    I’m usually a speed reader but when it’s heavier material or more focused on personal growth I definitely have to slow down to absorb it all! I’ve never heard of this Outlander series before today (*gasp*) but in the amazon review someone describes it as “romance and sex”…which isn’t the books I usually read…I don’t want to sound like a prude but is it morally offensive or does it seem okay? Sounds like a great story but I don’t want to get hooked if I’m going to be feeling guilty about reading them…does that even make sense?

    • Anne says:

      There are a LOT of racy scenes in Outlander. Most of it is married sex (but with Outlander that gets a little complicated …) but there are also some rather graphic descriptions of sexual abuse. I’ve done a whole lot of skimming through many pages for that reason. Many comments on this blog have been devoted to the subject of how to read the Outlander series as a highly sensitive person!

  96. Renee says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a speed reader, but I guess I do tend toward the fast end of the spectrum (I’ve had a lot of practice, after all!)
    There are definitely some books that I take a long breaks in between bouts of reading. And I couldn’t get past the hospital in Dragonfly in Amber…. I guess I should try, since I do love Outlander – scandalous though it can be!

  97. Jenn says:

    I still find myself to read through books fairly quickly (when I have the time to read, that is). It’s not a matter of whether or not I want to get through them quickly… just, like you mentioned, Anne, my tendency to read faster if I am thoroughly enjoying the book. 🙂

    I came across a quote, last summer, that made me really give thought to the concept of reading more slowly… you can read my own post about that here (Slow Reading: A Novel Concept). 🙂 I love the idea of taking more time with the books I read, but –also like you– don’t know that I could! LOL

  98. Lydia says:

    I’m a slow reader. I hear every word in my head at the pace I imagine it would be spoken in context. I allow time for reflection as I read. Which is not to say that I’ve never stayed up all night to finish a book in one sitting – I have. A part of me wishes I could speed read so I could get to all of the hundreds of books on my list in a timely fashion. I’ve tried it and even been somewhat successful, but I found that the whole reading experience just sort of fell flat. I felt like I was missing something. I just prefer to savor.

  99. Wanda Colangelo says:

    I was in a book club with a woman who read (on average) 6 books to every 1 that I read. I envy those of you that can speed read but I am obviously never going to be able to do that. I also tend to fall asleep if I try reading in bed–then again, what a lovely way to fall asleep.

  100. Oh my gosh I’m surprised you haven’t read Outlander before now. I read the first one about 10 years ago and have read 5 so far. I am a savorer. I don’t want to blow through a series all at once so that I can’t look forward to the next book and relish that anticipation. I also do not re-read books. People who know me think I am a speed reader and I laugh because I am familiar with the book bloggers and know that 50 books a year is nothing in comparison to others. One of the reasons I savor is that I do not re-read books. Occasionally if a book is beautifully written I will read it out loud (if I’m alone of course) just to hear the words.

  101. Cheryl H. says:

    I read fast. I always have. I can’t help myself. I’m an impatient reader. Have to know what’s going to happen next! If a book is good, I can always read it again to pick up anything I missed–and I know I miss things. I’ve caught myself skipping sentences or whole sections of paragraphs before, shame on me! I’ll usually make myself go back and read what I skipped over in case I missed anything important.

    Outlander–the novel, the book series, and the TV series–is wonderful. Settle in and enjoy the ride, Sassenach! ;D The second season of the TV series starts April 4th, so make sure to watch the first season, which is out on DVD, before then if you plan to tune in (on Starz).

  102. Julie says:

    I love that you just posted this… because just yesterday I read ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ in less than 24 hours (on top of normal work and life responsibilities) and my husband said, “I think you have a problem.” 😀 I think modern conveniences give fuel to my book ‘devouring’… when I was a kid and I got 5 books (in a series) for Christmas, that was it… if the library didn’t have the series, I had to wait around until my birthday for the next books. I read the Hunger Games trilogy in one week, because as soon as I finished #1 on my Kindle, I only pushed one button and immediately started #2. Awesome for binge reading, but dangerous for finances. 🙂

    • Alison says:

      So are Anne’s daily Kindle deal e-mails Julie, lol!! I think I need to set my own reading challenge of Kindle-only reading to get through everything I’ve bought!!!

      • Julie says:

        Haha, yes! Last year I had to unsubscribe from any kindle deal emails I received just so I could read through everything I had on my kindle… thankfully I made it through, but it didn’t take me long to build up my collection again 😉

  103. Alison says:

    I love this comment thread when the post was originally published, and am thoroughly enjoying it again now!!! Something else that has occurred to me is the difference between discovering a series when it first comes out or when it is well established. When you start a series with book 1 at its initial release (or what becomes a longer series with one of the first few books, e.g my discovery of Outlander between ‘Drums of Autumn’ and ‘Fiery Cross’), you’re always waiting for the next one with anticipation and then in my case plow through the new release to find out what happens next, then re-read it again (or a few times!!), savouringly, prior to the next release. When I find a new series that already has a lengthy catalogue (e.g Inspector Gamarche, No1 Ladies Detective Agency, now Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James (basically Anne, if you recommend it, there’s a 99% chance I’ll love it!!) and Maisie Dobbs), I’m torn between wanting to plow through them all quickly, tofindoutwhathappensnext, knowing there’s a good number of books to get through, and savouring each story, stretching them out over time because I know that eventually I’ll come to the end and be left either waiting for the next one, or mourning because it was the last one (neither scenario of which I’m a fan of!!). But that’s the beauty of books and art and creativity, isn’t it – there will always be another book, more than we can ever possibly read in our lifetimes, so we really are never left wanting. Great topic, as always!!

  104. Shar says:

    I am a savorer. I get lost in every single choice of word. I tend to read a lot of books that take me to a far-off place or time. Setting is as important to me as a main character. I thought everyone read my way until I met my husband. His parents went back to college when he was in 3rd grade. During summer break one year, he audited a speed reading class. So he can fly through a book, typically in a day. Unfathomable to me, since most books easily take me a month. We are only talking typical length books here. I don’t let my lengthy process deter me from large books though. I just have to be really interested in a book to attempt the commitment it will take to get me through. Pillars of the Earth took me somewhere around 7 or 8 months, no other books read. And if I commit to a series I can lose a year easily. It makes it so hard to choose what book I will read next but on the plus side, it doesn’t make me feel like I can’t abandon a book that doesn’t work for me. Who has the time to commit to a book that doesn’t fit if you are a savorer?

  105. Liz C. says:

    As I have gotten older I find that I read much faster. I really noticed a change when I read the twilight books in 4 days ( including finding the 2-4 books) I can read 400-600 words a day if it’s just a lazy day at home. Sometimes, non-fiction demands a slower pace, but even then I read faster then my friends. I have also started listening to audio books and I listen at 1.5 speed to double speed.

  106. Janessa M. says:

    Since a young child I have always been a savorer, 100%. Even in textbooks, which is completely dreadful for college, but I just never felt like the words stuck with me to their full degree if I didn’t read slowly.

    In the past year or so, I’ve been learning to read some things faster and allow myself to skim read less-savory books or textbooks.

    But if I have the time – or even if I don’t, in the case of really good writing – I will savor up all the words. Slow and long, happy reading.

  107. Anki says:

    I would say I am firmly in the “it depends” category. When it comes to fiction, my inclination trends toward the speedier side, in part because I naturally read at a decent clip, and also because I typically have to know “what happens next”. Or I am *so* close to the end of the section/chapter/book that it just makes *sense* to finish it up. I am sure you know how that goes. Non-fiction I tend to take my time on. Some memoirs and biographies read like novels, and I typically go through those more quickly, but my general trend for non-fiction works is “read over weeks and months, in between reading other things”.

    Lately most of my reading has been new (to me) books, but I still re-read things with a fair amount of regularity. I find I am more likely to re-read when other aspects of my life are overwhelming in some way, probably because I already know what happens in the story so it is safe for me to explore.

    No one else has commented on this that I could see, but one thing I have found necessary in my own reading is to actively *avoid* reading an entire series (or large chunks of one) straight through. I learned the hard way that if I do not take this precaution I run a real risk of burning out on a series of books, to the point where I may avoid it for *years*, even though I know it is something I have enjoyed and will enjoy. Is this just a personal quirk of mine, or have other people experienced this?

  108. Jennifer says:

    I am a total speed reader, if I get into a book(or series) I just HAVE to know what is going to happen! But at the same time I wish I was bit more of a savorer because often times I just don’t want to let the story end and lose those “friends” I have been falling in love with for so many pages. I read Gabaldon’s series last year and completely fell in love with it, I found myself up at night wanting to see what happens next but then slowing down because I didn’t want to end the journey. I think it took me three months to read all eight books, straight on through, no stops to read other books. I’m also not a multiple book person, if I start a book or series I am stuck on that one thing until it is over. Not until I met one of my best friend who is also a big reader did I realize many people will read more than one book at a time, or stop in the middle and not continue for some time. I couldn’t fathom it, I HAVE to finish a book! Even if it’s not the greatest book, there are very few books I have put down and said, no I can’t do it(not until the end anyways, haha). I’m also not a re-reader(which my friend is also), I think the only books I have read more than once are the Harry Potter books, even though there are some stories I would love to read again its hard for me to allow myself to do that when there are so many books on my list that I want to read and haven’t yet.

    Per your recommendation I started the Maisie Dobbs Series mid-January and I am currently on book 8 (Book 12 in my reading challenge) with no sign of stopping! Until book twelve comes out of course.

  109. Leisa says:

    Certain books and genres I can speed through, but I wouldn’t consider myself a savorer either. I wish I could read books faster, but, alas, it isn’t meant to be. I do try to stretch my abilities though.

  110. Lucie says:

    I’m French, English is my second language. I’m a speed reader in French, and I’ve always been, ever since I was a child. But I’m a savorer in English! Each language has a different rhythm. I really enjoy reading English literature more slowly. It might be because of my abilities – although I’m able to read really fast in English too. I speed-read blog posts, for instance! ;D

  111. Jess says:

    I’m a total speed reader. Sometimes I hate that I go through series so fast, but it really is a great excuse to read them again 🙂 And I actually just picked up Outlander from the library yesterday. I was a little hesitant as it’s not my normal read, but now I can’t wait to get home and start into the story.

  112. Noémie says:

    As far as I can remember, I have always been a fast reader. When it comes to books, I am nowhere near as patient and if I like a book, not only will I make time for it (sleep is overrated anyways) but chances are I will also devour in within a couple days. As a member of the “2015 Reading Challenge” I knew I would have to step up the pace to an average of a book a week (which is actually a struggle when you are a student with a part-time job like I was last year). This challenge made me realize reading fast wasn’t necessarily a good thing. I now try to read at my own pace, that is, slightly faster than most people/readers. Oh and re-reading is also one of my favourite things to do. I’m currently re-reading Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, and I’m falling in love with Mr Darcy all over again, and it’s just as good as the first time I read it!

    Thank you so much for your insightful articles, very enlightening and well-written as always!

  113. Laurel Bandi says:

    I’m both….Depends on the book. You mentioned the Deborah Crombie series last year sometime and I appreciated your review of them. I have devoured them and read the last book in 2 days. I’m slowly reading Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand now. I love the characters and want to enjoy my time with them.

  114. Here’s raising a glass to the bi-polar reader. . . .I can rush through a series at the speed of sound/light (and was enrolled in Evelyn Wood speed-reading courses as a middle-schooler in the 70s) but also want to devote eons to deep, meaningful sentences (coming from authors like Annie Dillard, who write poetry and prose in a handful of words).
    Anne. Because you possess true grit. . . have you considered the vast joy that awaits within the House of Niccolo series by Dorothy Dunnett? The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon was FUN, don’t get me wrong, but Niccolo/Claes vander Poele is not just sexy but so, so, so smart. This is a series that you will sink your teeth into. It may take years, but is so very worth it.

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