An increasing number of experts think so - and say it's time to slow down . . .
I listened to the audiobook of AMERICAN GODS
and was stunned to hear the F bomb nearly
every other word and the graphic sexual description.
I'm not a prude but I try to refrain from the F bomb in my thoughts and hearing it every other word was jarring.
The sex just made me feel like a Peeping Tom.
Was this the book I had so enjoyed when I read it in prose?
I realized then that I had just skimmed through those sections to get on to the highly enjoyable main
text and story.
If you were to read this article in print, chances are you would only get through half of what I've written.
But reading this online as you are, you might not even finish a fifth. OUCH!
At least, those are the two verdicts from a pair of recent research projects – respectively,
the Poynter Institute's Eyetrack survey, and analysis by Jakob Nielsen –
which both suggest that many of us no longer have the concentration to read articles through to their conclusion.
So are we getting stupider? Is that what this is about? Sort of.
According to The Shallows, a new book by technology sage Nicholas Carr,
our hyperactive online habits are damaging the mental faculties we need to process and understand lengthy textual information.
Round-the-clock news feeds leave us hyperlinking from one article to the next –
without necessarily engaging fully with any of the content;
our reading is frequently interrupted by the ping of the latest email;
and we are now absorbing short bursts of words on Twitter and Facebook more regularly than longer texts.
Which all means that although, because of the internet, we have become very good at collecting a wide range of factual titbits,
we are also gradually forgetting how to sit back,
and relate all these facts to each other.
"If you want the deep experience of a book, if you want to internalise it,
to mix an author's ideas with your own and make it a more personal experience,
you have to read it slowly," says Ottawa-based John Miedema, author of Slow Reading (2009).
But Lancelot R Fletcher,
the first present-day author to popularise the term "slow reading", disagrees.
He argues that slow reading
is not so much about unleashing the reader's creativity,
as uncovering the author's
As authors, we must be aware that our readers will skim ...
missing perhaps a key clue we have left to the mystery of our book's climax.
How do we prevent their skimming?
We make each sentence something of beauty or wit or angst that will touch our reader's
heart and imagination.
Do you skim in your reading? Do you read in-depth articles or do you just surf the highlights?
Do you agree that slow reading is necessary? What do you think?