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Slow Reading in a Hurried Age Hardcover – October 8, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Mikics here updates Charles Lamb’s nineteenth-century protest against magazine-mongers pushing readers to “pant and toil . . . at a sickening rate” as they frantically cull facts from the latest publications and bid “farewell to reading for its own sake.” Like Lamb, Mikics understands how modern culture discourages reading for pleasure—especially in an Internet world of short-lived but insistent information. Inviting readers into a less frenetic, more rewarding world, Mikics explores a series of literary masterpieces, showing how getting lost in a book is still the best way to find joys we really want. These joys, readers quickly realize, come more abundantly to those who follow the 14 rules Mikics expounds—rules fostering patience in dealing with novels’ tangled plots, canniness in interrogating dialogues in plays, perceptiveness in discerning poets’ styles and themes, acumen in identifying constituent elements of short stories, and imagination in conceiving alternative constructions of those same elements. Readers acquire stimulating perspectives on individual works by Homer and Whitman, Dickens and Cather, Shakespeare and Chekov. But they also develop the intellectual poise to set one work into play with others, across boundaries of nationality, style, and history. An exceptional book whetting readers’ appetites for the savoring of many more. --Bryce Christensen

Review

Like [Charles] Lamb, Mikics understands how modern culture discourages reading for pleasure--especially in an Internet world of short-lived but insistent information. Inviting readers into a less frenetic, more rewarding world, Mikics explores a series of literary masterpieces, showing how getting lost in a book is still the best way to find joys we really want...Readers acquire stimulating perspectives on individual works by Homer and Whitman, Dickens and Cather, Shakespeare and Chekov. But they also develop the intellectual poise to set one work into play with others, across boundaries of nationality, style, and history. An exceptional book whetting readers' appetites for the savoring of many more.
(Bryce Christensen Booklist (starred review) 2013-09-15)

Mikics writes accessibly and with infectious enthusiasm on an impressively eclectic range of classic and contemporary texts. The reader who picks up this volume will likely already have been won over to Mikics's argument, but the book's pedagogical value for students is considerable.
(Publishers Weekly 2013-08-05)

There is nothing else like Slow Reading in a Hurried Age. Mikics's fourteen rules are quite wonderful, and I will in teaching adopt them myself. (Harold Bloom)

There is much solid wisdom and penetrating advice in these pages. David Mikics is an inspired teacher, and he has brought his rich pedagogic imagination to life in this book, which teaches us to fall in love again with great literature. The examples are wonderfully apt and wide-ranging. (Phillip Lopate, Hofstra University)

It may seem counterintuitive to read a book on slow reading in order to help you read more efficiently. But that's exactly what you stand to gain by (slowly) reading...Mikics' wise, common-sense guide to getting the most out of real reading--totally immersive reading...I can't recommend this book highly enough.
(West Australian 2013-10-08)

Mikics insists that we are not in a world of declining reading, but quite the opposite. People are inundated with words that they feel compelled to read--in email, in tweets, in posts to social networking sites, in text messages--so much so that they can barely keep up. So we read fast and carelessly and we prize brevity at the expense of substance, a habit that is making all of us increasingly unable to concentrate on what is directly in front of us, constantly distracted as we are by pop-ups, embedded links, and the whole range of digital items that make constant demands on our time and attention...The choice of materials is eclectic but one of the finest achievements of the volume is how compellingly, but undogmatically, it makes the case for a literary canon, one not born of professorial or other fiat but of merit...The greatest strength of the volume is that in modeling slow reading of exemplary works of literature, it fosters exactly the qualities that such reading requires: sustained attention, attentiveness to detail, a willingness and ability to accommodate a gradually building realization of the significance of a given work.
(James Williams PopMatters 2013-10-07)

A step-by-step guide to reading books amid the rushing world of an information-obsessed era. The book guides the reader through what amounts to a sort of extended independent study with a very approachable and patient professor. (Ian Stansel Ploughshares online 2013-10-28)

This addition to the growing store of literary how-to books opens with the stuff of countless essays and op-ed pieces: too much information, not enough concentration, it is time to slow down. All this functions as a preamble to advice about what to do after the smartphone is turned off: read more patiently and thereby rescue interior depth from the decentering storm of digital text. So although it serves as an introduction to practical criticism, it is also a work of moral improvement, primarily aimed not at students, the captive goal-oriented audience with teachers to please, but at adults with demanding, other-directed lives that hem in the room for contemplation. David Mikics’ relaxed point that we like to identify with characters in novels puts it plainly: reading is done self to self. (Owen Richardson Sydney Morning Herald 2013-11-30)

The problem [Mikics] addresses is very real, the rules he proposes make sense, and he is a perceptive reader…Expect a run on this book; it should prove popular in English classes at all levels, from high school and up. (David Keymer Library Journal (starred review) 2013-12-15)

Beautifully and unabashedly edifying…Mikics is up to something more than just technical instruction. What separates Slow Reading in a Hurried Age from other popular or academic how‐to guides is Mikics’s urgent reverence for literature, which he wants to impress upon the reader. To read well, he clearly believes, is not just to master a skill; it is to become a certain kind of person…Mikics, in calm, authoritative prose, lays out the case that the way we read now is in many cases the enemy of reading as it is supposed to be…Slow Reading in a Hurried Age is a guide to becoming a great reader. This is a very hard thing to teach: so much of what happens when we read is internal and instinctive, and it is hard to transform reactions into rules. But Mikics manages to do exactly that… The gift of Mikics’s book at the right moment could lead to a lifetime of good, slow reading. (Adam Kirsch Barnes & Noble Review 2013-12-10)

[Mikics] prizes the kind of ‘slow reading’ that allows us to appreciate the rhythms and voices and atmosphere of a book, to take it apart as one might a clock, in order to figure out how it works. (Joanna Scott The Nation 2015-07-30)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press; First Edition edition (October 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674724720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674724723
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #787,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Slow Reading in a Hurried Age on my first read sounds anti-internet. But on my rereading I notice that David Mikics is merely directing my attention to the kind of reading that the internet trains us to do: a Pavlovian method to respond quickly to impulse, the excessive click, click, click, scroll, scroll, scroll and endless pursuit of tidbits of information that are then immediately forgotten. He cautions us against it, not to say it is bad per se, but that online reading demands our attention differently than reading a book, and the easy mistake we make is to read the same way in both mediums. He then advocates a different way to read, not a new way, take note, because it’s always been done, but a reminder, to read slowly and closely, as means of disappearing into a book, to dissolve reality until the only reality is the book we read, as a way of discovering ourselves. The noise of the internet prevents slow reading in websites, he asserts, because there is always that urge to skim and skip, to easily give in and give up just as soon as the reading becomes tough, and the pitfall is when we use that same style when we read a book, skipping and skimming, running our eyes along the lines of the page without much absorption of the meaning behind those lines.

As a solution he proposes fourteen rules that facilitate reading slowly: being patient, asking the right questions, identifying the voice, getting the sense of the style, noticing beginnings and endings, identifying signposts, using the dictionary, tracking keywords, finding the author’s basic thought, being suspicious, finding the parts, writing it down, exploring different paths and finding another book, with several paragraphs explaining each one.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is about the pleasures of slow reading. It opens with a lament about the character of much reading done today in the multiple- device short- attention- span world that we live in. Partial attention is given to so many different things, and one thrill is sought after another without contemplation, consideration, depth or real understanding. This call for readers to slow down provides rules for good reading, and also interpretative- examples from a wide range of traditionally valued literary texts.
In his famous essay on reading Francis Bacon told us that some books are to be devoured and others 'chewed and digested'. He pointed out that different subjects and different tasks require different kinds of reading.
This book focuses on the promoting of truly deep reading, of attention- filled, slow long term reading. And it rightly argues that this kind of reading can give a level of insight and understanding that no other reading can. It points out such deep reading opens new worlds, acquaints us with wider range of people and experience than we can know in our ordinary lives. It points again to the pure pleasure Reading can give.
It is a most timely call to swing the pendulum back a bit in the direction of doing one thing in a real way at once, rather than doing so many things in a superficial way through much broken time.
I am sure most readers will gain from this book insight and renewed sense of the importance of slow reading-even if most of the readers of this book will be the ones who already know this.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book might bore those who have already immersed literary gems and plunged their depths, and it may prove intimidating for those who just read in quick bursts. For those of us in the middle, who struggle to find the patience to stop the race to read more, and rather read fewer books more deeply, this is a challenging and enriching read. I found myself disagreeing with some of David Mikics' arguments and observations (for example I think he was wrong about Pride and Prejudice), but that's part of what makes this worthwhile. It's a conversation about what slower, more attentive reading can do, and the more discussions or disagreements it sparks, the better. He uses examples from classics to illustrate his fourteen rules for slow reading, but the reader can use those same rules for meaningful contemporary texts as well. I reexamined some favorites due to his analysis,and look forward to reading some others as well. This is a rewarding read for those of us who want to get more out of reading but lack the tools. Hopefully there will be something out there for those who still fail to see the point.
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By PJE on September 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book would have been a gift any time it was published, but coming when it does makes it especially valuable and especially apt. As our social and cultural environments speed up, Mikics confronts us with an elegant and simple response: Slow Down. Read slowly: read for pleasure, read for instruction, read so as to expand the contours of your world. Mikics tells us how to do this, but he also tells us why it matters. This is a truly consequential treatise about education in the humanities in the form of a humane, well-worded book about reading. Students, teachers, members of the general public: this is a brilliant, timely book for all.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Teachers at all levels have experienced a state of acute, chronic, systemic distraction among students at every level of education. Brain science confirms that our gadget-addicted generation is suffering from massive attention deficit ("Constant Partial Attention" is the official diagnosis among psychologists. This books brings some of that data to the fore, and reminds us of the difference between actually reading something and scanning a printed screen. Along with that, it affords delightful insights into the texts, fiction and non-fiction, that it discusses. So: required reading for all educators.
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