I remember in school for some reason we would learn to “speed read” books. It was assumed that the gaze on the book page would start a bit into the text and quickly jump down to the next line before the eye reached the right margin. The idea was that the brain would then fill in the words furthest towards the margins, the words that the eyes did not immediately see. We would practice this! I thought it was a stupid idea then and I still think it is a stupid idea! I remember trying to read according to the method, it went quickly, but I didn’t understand a word of what I read.
The thing is, I like reading the words out! It’s almost like I’m reading aloud to myself. I want to feel the words, not just understand the action! I’ve never understood the point of speed reading at all. But of course, it can also have to do with a certain personality trait…
Right now I’m thinking a lot about reading and how many different ways there are to read. Since my sister and I started our book podcast Between Darkness and Light, I have discovered a nice deep reading I rarely indulged in before. Knowing that I will be talking about the book I am reading, in the next section, affects the reading and I discover things in the text that I probably would not have noted otherwise. Perhaps this is most clearly felt when I reread a novel that I once already read.
When rereading, I usually realize that there was more to discover in the book than I thought I already knew. Sometimes, however, I discover that that book I once thought was so good, is no longer quite as good as I thought then.
Another way of reading is when today, as an editor, I read a script for Lange Publisher. And that reading is in turn affected by the stage the script is in at the time. There is of course a big difference between reading to get a first impression and reading to then write a review. As an editor, I mainly read to find the potential in the text, but also the flaws and gaps. My reading is then mainly about us trying to get the script to take off and get better. It is a somewhat more technical reading.
Another newly discovered type of reading is the re-reading of poetry – reading a poem as one listens to a good song. It obviously requires well-written lyrics, but just as I can get the urge to listen to a favourite song by Leonard Cohen, today I can get the urge to read a poem by Bo Setterlind, even though I already know what it says and what the poem contains.
It’s like travelling away and coming home at the same time!
Mattias is an author and illustrator