Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reading Slowly; Reading Out Loud

I think that I am a skillful and attentive reader: I was taught how to read and study texts carefully throughout my education. Perhaps one reason is that I read slowly. I also write about what I read (even as I'm reading), read one book at a time, and I even sometimes read aloud. There are times when the text requires reading aloud: poetry should be read by ear to hear the music (if there isn't any verbal music, it isn't poetry, no matter how wide the margins are on the page); works that were prepared to be spoken should be read aloud--I once belonged to a "Lovers of Newman" group and we met to read Blessed John Henry Newman's sermons aloud. That way we got the impact of his skillful rhetoric; the way he built his argument, used his examples, delivered his call.

Jeanne Whalen writes in The Wall Street Journal about the benefits of reading books and articles slowly and silently, getting away from social media, and concentrating on one thing: the text:

Slow reading advocates seek a return to the focused reading habits of years gone by, before Google, smartphones and social media started fracturing our time and attention spans. Many of its advocates say they embraced the concept after realizing they couldn't make it through a book anymore.

"I wasn't reading fiction the way I used to," said Meg Williams, a 31-year-old marketing manager for an annual arts festival who started the club. "I was really sad I'd lost the thing I used to really, really enjoy."

Slow readers list numerous benefits to a regular reading habit, saying it improves their ability to concentrate, reduces stress levels and deepens their ability to think, listen and empathize. The movement echoes a resurgence in other old-fashioned, time-consuming pursuits that offset the ever-faster pace of life, such as cooking the "slow-food" way or knitting by hand.

Whalen also provides insight into the way we read on a screen and how that has changed the way we read a text. We certainly can't appreciate a great work of art by scanning it--and think how scanning The Holy Bible would change the impact of reading God's sacred word!

Read the rest here: slowly.

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