Mar. 8th, 2007

philthecow: (spiral)
If you want to hear about a willful misreading that puts Menocchio to shame, you should contact me sometime. Just provide a punching bag.

I wanted to start doing reading for my Orientalism paper last night, but that kind of went to hell when I started thinking about this particular mis-reader.

(Hint: he comes from a time that rhymes with GASP, and also ASP, and also WATCH MY LIFE GO TO CRASP.)

Once he said to me "You read too fast to understand anything." From him it was an insult, an insinuation that I was the bad reader, not him, but this is a sentiment that has been expressed to me several times in several different contexts. Although it depends on what I'm reading and why I'm reading it, my typical pace ranges from 100-200 pages an hour, topping out at the high end for academic reading (sorry, Swarthmore) and more on the low end for leisure reading. Speedy is the only way I know how to read, which is probably the reason that I've never been a fan of poetry.

My roommate's pretty jealous of this reading business and my boyfriend treats it like a fetish object. (He's been known to lead his friends into my room and say "Watch her read," which is creepy, but also cute, right? Right?) I tend to see my habits in the same favorable light, given that I can always get my seminar reading done on time, but every once in a while I wonder what I'm missing out on. I know that I'm not the best person for picking up the finer points of an argument, and literary language doesn't make much of an impression on me, but I feel that I get what I want out of most books most of the time.

The question remains: is what I want out of books what I should want out of books? I decided to prioritize volume over intense engagement a long time ago: why did I do that, and how has it effected my experience of reading? Was it a "bad" or a "good" choice?

(The tentative answer to that last question?

As long as you're not reading The Second Sex as an apologia for rape, you're doing pretty OK.)


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