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Slow Reading

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0980200447
ISBN-10: 098020044X
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 92 pages
  • Publisher: Litwin Books (March 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098020044X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0980200447
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,645,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The title of the book might suggest a boring slog, but I found Slow Reading to be a quick, easy, and fun read. In it, John Miedema weaves his own reading and experiences through a thoughtful look at past and current trends in publishing and technology, couching personal reflections in a wide range of theories (i.e., New Criticism, Reader Response) on the purposes of and psychology of reading. The overarching theme of the book is how people relate to text--how different methods of reading and the form of the text itself can affect the readers' connection to the text. He also discusses less familiar engagement with text, such as the actual digestion of a book as symbolic internalization of ideas.

By describing the various methods of reading (or consumption of text), Miedema emphasizes intimacy with ideas, which he contrasts with `speed reading.' Speed reading, in contrast with slow reading, aims for a quick deciphering of the main idea of a text in the most time-efficient way--reading without full engagement. His equation of speed reading to fast food and slow reading to slow food is apt; we often become trapped by modern life's mandate to live `bigger, faster, and more.' This fast pace doesn't allow for full engagement of the senses or reflection; slowing down allows us to make connections and reflect on their meanings. Like the slow food movement, slow reading is a conscious effort to explore small nuances--the things we miss when we're focusing on efficiency. Miedema does not promote speed reading, but he is actually (and fortunately) a pragmatist, recognizing that every act of reading does not require uncompromised attention.
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Format: Paperback
This short, compact volume represents a cri de coeur, of sorts, from a man who clearly loves a good read and is perturbed by a world moving too fast to sit down, chill out, and immerse itself in a good book. We live in the "Information Age"--but, of course, there's a big difference between information and hard-won knowledge. A book demands a level of intellectual and emotional participation from a reader that movies and video games don't and I sincerely pity those people who have forgotten the simple pleasure of opening a new book to the first page and diving headfirst into the narrative. John Miedema preaches the practice of slow reading with the passion and conviction of a true believer and I commend him for doing his part to make us understand and value the printed word, its tradition, its legacy and, yes, its bright, shining future.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very thin volume with very little to say. It is very vague about its central concept, slow reading. It begins with "Slow reading is about reading at a reflective pace." But in the course of these 65 pages the author also speaks of slow reading as if it is about losing oneself in the text and at other times as if it is not either of these, but about taking notes, arguing with the text and following ideas of one's own. A scattershot approach to evidence complements this conceptual laxity. Finally, the bulk of this very small book is devoted to topics only tangentially related to slow-reading: the shape of future libraries and the task of future librarians, and the digital medium versus the print book.

Thinking through what it means to read a book, why it is a valuable thing to do, what is happening in the brain when one does it: these are very worthwhile topics. If these are the sort of questions that brought you to consider this book, I would recommend you read instead
Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain

Wolf's is a careful and detailed inquiry. If you don't have time for that, better google "SLOW READING: the affirmation of authorial intent" by Lancelot R. Fletcher. This inspiring six-page essay is available on the internet for free.
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