Yesterday, Gizmo Guy and I went to the library to return a research book. While we were there, we spotted Robert B. Parker’s latest Jesse Stone novel – Stranger in Paradise. Now, both GG and I like Parker’s spare style – he uses the minimum amount of words yet the reader is drawn into the world he’s created, and feel like the characters are people they know or at least could relate to.

So we took it over to the counter to check it out. Which is where the library informed us it was a ‘Fast Read’ meaning that instead of the usual three week loan time, you only got to keep this one a week. Yeah. 7 Days instead of 21. Like it’s a new-release video at Blockbuster.

It’s 293 pages, and the font’s slightly bigger than most (which with GG’s and my trifocals comes in really handy) but 7 days? So I turned to GG and said, “Can you read it in that time?”

Now, I meant no disrespect to him at all – I am not implying he’s dumb. You see, where I stay home and can read a complete novel in an afternoon, GG works. Full time. And has a 90 minute commute each way to work. Which means his available time to read is much more limited than mine, usually he manages to read only a couple pages a day.

The last book I took out – David Baldacci’s The Camel Club (approximately the same size, though with denser text) Gizmo Guy finished on the very day it was due back at the library. 21 days later. (I never did get to read it — I have to promise not to read his books while he’s reading them since I have an annoying tendency to lose his place.)

So on behalf of Gizmo Guy, and other people who have full-time jobs and don’t have full days to immerse themselves in reading the way I do, I have to say I’m a little miffed at the library’s ‘fast read’ policy. Are they saying it’s an ‘easy-to-read’ book – like a kiddies’ primer? That makes me shudder that such labels could be applied. Are they trying to lessen the line on a book they think might have a queue on a reserve list? Or have people forgotten that not everyone reads at the same rate? Are we so inundated by the fast-in, fast-out video market we’ve forgotten what it’s like to sit down to savor a book and read s-l-o-w-l-y?

Can you force speed reading?
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3 thoughts on “Can you force speed reading?

  • March 31, 2008 at 6:03 am

    How frustrating. No, I don’t think you can force it. It sounds like they need extra copies of those books rather than trying to make people bring them back sooner. When I read, I tend to read any size book in one or two (at most) settings. I *hate* coming up out of the world of the book – but I know most people don’t read like that.

  • March 31, 2008 at 6:09 am

    Sue, I’m like you – I prefer to read a book in one sitting (and since I’m a fast reader, that’s usually possible.) But GG doesn’t have that option, and generally can’t stay in a book that long anyway – maybe it’s the ADD part of him coming out?

    I think you’re right about them needing extra copies. (By the way, I read the book yesterday, and it’s definitely written by a guy – I won’t give any spoilers, but I can’t think of many women authors who would justify casual sex and adultery the way he does.)

  • March 31, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Fast read policy sucks. You won’t be really able to sink it in.

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