The Slow Read

February 13, 2010 at 5:44 am (From the Book Shelf) (, , , , , , , , , , )

If I am reading something slowly it means I do not like it.

If I am reading it really slowly, it means I am dissecting it in my head and ready to rewrite it from the beginning because I really, really, dislike it.

See, when I like something, I race through it. I eagerly read, my eyes keep jumping further down the page, ploughing further into the story and I don’t want to pause or wait, I just want to know how the story ends. I need to know. I’m caught up and captivated.

Then there are the books like the one I am currently reading.

It is a Shadowrun book – this one by Mel Odom called Headhunters and the premise is interesting enough. Group A is hired to steal a body from the morgue as is Group B. Group A succeeds in getting the body but then are worried about getting killed by Group B and so have to find out who Group A is and why they wanted the body. Enter intrigue and the usual Shadowrun politics with corrupt police and corps and mercenaries and the meta-human race relations and all the things that can make Shadowrun books extremely interesting reads.

Yet this book does not grab my attention. I know this because I started reading it nearly 11 days ago and I’m barely half way through. Yes, I have been busy, but I still would have finished it by now if I had wanted to find out how the story ended. I’d have woken up in the morning and checked my watch and sat for fifteen, twenty minutes frantically devouring pages if I had an interest in finishing this book.

Why don’t I like it? I have read so many other books in this series and really enjoyed them. I’ve read them out of order so I can’t honestly say where this book falls as far as the timeline.

I think it comes down to the protagonist. Skater. The mercenary who in the midst of this body snatching crisis is facing a personal dilemma of how to care for his infant daughter and worrying he may not be a good father. I must admit, the moments when he is blathering on about his fatherly concerns are the bits where I keep putting the book down and then dragging my feet picking it up again. It isn’t that this sub-plot is not interesting. It is more that I don’t believe it. Everything else Skater does is rational and deliberate and I know that they are trying to open up this emotive can of worms but it just seems far-fetched and so out of character for him.

It could also be that they keep telling me things. Skater was angry. Skater felt betrayed. Skater this. Skater that. I don’t like Skater as a character to begin with and he emotes so little on the outside that without being told he is experiencing emotion we, as the reader, would probably never know and it bothers me.

I am going to finish reading this book. I want to know why the body is so important. Unfortunately I fear I probably missed some key clues and I know I’m not going to go back to read them. Hopefully it all comes together.

By the way, if you are interested in a Shadowrun book I would suggest 2XS. It is a fascinating read and the protagonist in that (also bogged down by a family sub-plot) is really quite interesting. I actually cared whether he was getting shot at or not.

How about you? Do you read slower or faster when you are not enjoying something?



  1. kimberlyloomis said,

    That’s a tough question. If it’s a good book, but is dense, I’ll take a while to read it however it won’t drag. Generally I’m a quick reader but I’m reading a book now that has taken a goodly long time to get through and it has nothing to do with me not liking it. ๐Ÿ™‚ On the other hand I just finished a book that was not dense but incredibly tiring and annoying to read – one that was done in a style which I SHOULD have been able to read quickly – but was so poorly written it was like pulling my own teeth out to finish it. Excepting dense tomes then, I would say, I read veeeeeery slowly if it’s something I’m not enjoying.

  2. tomvancel said,

    When I speedread, I’m usually not interested. I’m just skimming to see if it will reach out, grab me, and slow me down.

  3. laurelrainsnow said,

    I know what you mean! I do speed-read through books I love, but I also like to read slowly enough (when I enjoy a book) so that I can assimilate all the lovely details (if it’s that kind of book); but if I don’t like the characters or the story itself, I do find myself distracted; and then I have to keep rereading passages, which frustrates me!

    I was reading a book like that recently (Beat the Reaper), which I thought I would like, based on the book flap, etc. But I simply could not relate to the crass main character! So I put it aside. I don’t know if I’ll pick it up again…I hate not finishing books!

    But lately I’ve decided that life’s too short to waste it on books I don’t enjoy!

  4. AlexJ said,

    Depends on the writing, actually. I like Lovecraft, but because of his style of writing (1920’s) I really can’t zip through any of his stories. They require effort to understand. Zahn is an easy read, so I can get through his books in no time. However, I enjoy both equally.

    I guess if I’m not enjoying it as much, I just stop reading!

    • survivalguru said,

      yes writing and layout are so important to keep me interested.

  5. Jemi Fraser said,

    I’m like you – when I like something I zip right along through it. I’ve actually reread books right away because I felt like it went too fast. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Reading Slowly « Nisaba Be Praised said,

    […] 13, 2010 at 9:44 am (other stuff) Tags: rambling, why we read Cassandra Jade has an interesting blog post up at her often interesting blog (go read!). She says that when she likes a book, she tears through […]

  7. Carol Benedict said,

    When I like a book, I read slowly, savoring every sentence. Sometimes I back up and read a section again before moving along just because I enjoy it or want to make sure I didn’t miss something.

    When I’m bored or really don’t enjoy the story, I’ll skip ahead a few paragraphs or pages. If I can’t find something to hold my interest after skimming through a couple of chapters, I usually read the last page of the book and consider it done.

    • survivalguru said,

      savouring? i do that if it is self help books and i even take notes sometimes

  8. kyuun said,

    I can’t read books quickly. I always find something else to do, no matter how much I’m enjoying a certain book. This isn’t to say that I don’t like reading – I love it, but I have to be in the right mood. Books can vary from exceedingly fast (a weekend) to horrifically slow (I’m talking months, here) just depending, and this rule does not obey how much I like a book.

    I’ve been reading Thief of Time for at least a month now, and I’m only 100 pages in. (admittedly, I’m reading eight other books at the same time, which doesn’t help) I have a very long to-read list, and I don’t like having to wait until I’ve finished Book A to start Book B, C, D, E, F or G.

  9. e6n1 said,

    I naturally read very quickly (since I was young, even before they invented the term speedreading) hence I judge a piece of writing by the number of times it makes me want to reread it. Hence I’ve reread all of my favourite books

  10. Carol Kilgore said,

    I am like you, for the most part. However, when I really like something and want to savor it, sometimes I’ll read slower, too, so I can keep the characters around a little longer.

  11. Carol J. Garvin said,

    Oh, yes! If I’m reading that slowly, even putting the book down for days at a time, I always know it’s because I’m struggling to get through it. In fact, in recent years I’ve allowed myself to quit reading rather than waste time finishing it. Time is too precious.

    Some books I read as a reader and others I read as a writer, so my attitude about the content can vary. I usually read quickly and if I’ve especially enjoyed a book I will go back to examine the writer’s technique afterwards.

  12. Jane Kennedy Sutton said,

    I read faster if I really enjoy the book, but sometimes I find myself slowing down towards the final pages simply because I donโ€™t want the book to end.

  13. catwoods said,

    I’m like you. I race through books I love. Often devouring them in a day. However, if I find myself still reading the same book 11 days later, it usually means I’m bored to tears with.

  14. Jonathan Danz said,

    I definitely read slower and with less attention if I don’t like a book. I become easily distracted and start thinking about the next book I want to read. Unfortunately I have this compulsion to finish books I start, so I’ll slog through the thing. For books I enjoy, usually feel all empty and wish I had savored them more.

  15. Corra McFeydon said,

    I do the same! I dissect and rewrite as I read. If I love a passage, I also dissect to see why ‘what works’ is working so well.


    from the desk of a writer

  16. lbdiamond said,

    Right now, I have six books going…get a hundred or so pages in, then get stuck. I hate it when that happens. It usually means I’ve got a lot of stuff going on. Well, that, and I keep buying more books, LOL! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Ann Elise said,

    I’m reading a book at the moment at a snail’s pace, because I’m getting bored. Not a lot has happened yet. This tends to be a trend for me as well, I read slower when I don’t like something.

    I can only think of one exception, and that was when I read “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” for the first time. I was ten or eleven and I was SO concerned for Harry’s wellbeing and SO worried about everything else that was going on that I had to keep putting the book down. I didn’t want anything bad to happen. Ironic, considering what did happen in the end of that book.

    Aside from that, though, I agree with the slow-reading rule.

  18. andrewhayett said,

    I usually read fast, but as you say, when I don’t like it I find myself rereading and then discarding the book altogether. It takes me at least a week to read a book like ‘Eclipse’ or ‘Harry Potter’. Sometimes I take at most two weeks. I really enjoy reading, that’s why I gained an interest in actually getting to write a book.

  19. Corra McFeydon said,

    I tried to read your latest post and it comes up ‘page not found’?

    Hope you’re well, Cassandra.

    from the desk of a writer (I moved my blog! I’m at WordPress now.)

  20. Nikki Hahn said,

    John Grisham used to be my favorite author. I could not put down his books. One day I bought his newest book sight unseen assuming it would be just as good as his previous books. The first chapter opened with a guy in hiding in another country because he had committed fraud in the US. All ready I did not like him. I put the book down and did not read any further. This character was a far cry from his previous characters. People who use bad guys as a primary character take a risk. I guess it all depends upon their sense of right and wrong. Personally, I wanted the character to get caught for his dark deeds and so sympathy was out of the question. However, in a book I have yet to read by an author I can find if I google, I am fascinated by his books which take characters like the Wicked Witch of the West and the BIg Bad Wolf and shed light upon their lives. Now that is fascinating.

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