The thing about being a slow reader is that we almost always feel slower than everyone else. Humans — for the better — can't process time for other people. What feels like forever to us might feel like a short time to someone else, and vice versa. It's easy to get caught in self-doubt and anxiety, seeing everyone around us finishing and talking about books, while we're still stuck on the same one, but it's all relative.
I like to stop and ask myself, "Is there some universal amount of time that's appropriate for reading a book?" People read books for so many different reasons that it's impossible to decide how quickly one should read. Some people read for artistic inspiration, others read for escape, while others read to learn about something new. Each of these three reasons, among a list of many, may explain why someone reads as fast or slow as they do. For example, someone who is reading for simple entertainment, or to pass the time, is likely to read much faster than someone who is hoping to analyze the text and pull some sort of moral or intellectual gem from it.
What I'm trying to say, ultimately, is that you shouldn't feel bad for whatever speed you read at. I try to affirm this thought within myself all the time, being that I often feel embarrassed being a slow reader working for Bustle Books. It's a process, but, again, I have to remember that there is no correct speed to read. However, all of this being said, there are still struggles with being a slow reader because we live in a fast-paced world within which faster is almost always better. Below are seven struggles that "slow" readers understand all too well.
1. You Don't Read As Much
This one is simple enough. Slower readers take longer to get through books, which means it takes longer for them to move on to the next one. This is, arguably, the biggest struggle of being a slow reader. Inevitably, while we're reading a book, we discover another extraordinary book but because we're still reading one we have to wait. It sucks.
2. You Miss Book References
Because slow readers often read less books — following the logic that it takes them longer to finish one — they can often become less savvy with the books industry as a whole. I can't tell you how many times people mention a "famous" author that I've never heard of because I've never gotten the chance to read their work. (I'll get there eventually!)
3. You Feel Out Of The Loop
When you can't read books as quickly as everyone else, it's easy to feel out of the loop. Not only do you miss references but you miss the opportunity to process and discuss the book with people when the book is still "hot" or popular. A few weeks after book releases, everyone moves on and people aren't excited to talk about it more, which blows if you happened to take a few weeks to finish said book.
4. There's A Huge Risk Of Getting Bored
When you're stuck reading the same book for a long time it's really easy to get bored. As a slow reader, I get really dispirited when I'm on the same book for a long time. I've quit a book, in the middle, on more than one occasion because I just was tired of dealing with it. This is especially true for books that are really long.
5. And Also A Huge Risk Of Spoilers
When you're a slow reader you have to avoid people and social media like crazy if you're reading a popular book. People love talking about the big moments, and who got together, and who died, and how everything turned out, because those are often the most exciting parts of the book. But, as a slow reader, you probably haven't gotten to those parts nearly as quick as everyone else so basically you have to go off the grig to protect the integrity and excitement of your reading experience.
6. Book Clubs Can Be Intimidating
You wonder if you'll be able to read the books quickly enough to keep up. You wonder if you'll end up at a meeting, having to pretend that you read up to the required chapter. You get stuck wondering about how your slow reading might make book clubs terrible. So, most of the time, slow readers either avoid book clubs or move anxiously through them week after week.
7. Being Hard On Yourself
The worst struggle of being a slow reader, in my opinion, is that it can be hard not to feel stupid or less intelligent than others. All that other stuff can be annoying but it's hardest of all to fight norms placed on you by society that encourage people to be quick. It starts early too. When you read books in school you're generally given only a few days to read what you're assigned. I know it was at that time that I started to feel ashamed of how I read. And it's been hard to shake that feeling ever since, even now.