sunday life: why you should read slowly

This week I learn The Art of Slow Reading


I’ve never been a big reader. Even as a kid. Which has always surprised people who assume that just because you wore glasses with an eyepatch for 18 months (when I was 12) and spent lunch in the library means you were a bookworm. Truth be known, I only ever got as far as Double Love in the Sweet Valley High series.  Which I suppose doesn’t really say much in either direction.

As a kid, if Mum caught us reading it was code we weren’t doing much and she’d hand us a basket of nappies to hang on the line. A resting heartbeat in a child would get her antenna up and she’d swoop in with a bundle of kindling to start the fire. So we stayed outside. And avoided the brown questions in Trivial Pursuit.

That was my excuse then. Now, like everyone else it would seem, I blame the internet. Recently much noise has been made by many angry experts claiming the internet is making us stupid because it forces us to read too fast, skimming tidbits at the expense of absorbing nourishing knowledge. In his new book The Shallows, tech guru Nicholas Carr uses neuroplasticity theories to argue this hyperactive toggling is reshaping the pathways in our brains, rendering us incapable of absorbing complex insights and arguments. Let alone follow a family tree in a Tolstoy novel.

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