September 5, 2012 by Matthew Mason
At some point in life, most serious readers probably graduate from the First and Greatest Commandment of reading, “Don’t draw in your books,” to the Second, which is like it, “Scribble all over everything you read: draw, mark, write until you can no longer see the page.” Ideally, it happens somewhere after the age of 3, but before college graduation. I’m a slow reader and a slow learner, so I crossed the line much later in life. I waver in my obedience.
I was therefore interested to see Jamie Smith’s recent illustrated blog post offering advice on how and why to annotate books.
If finding ways to read even slower than you already do is the last thing on your mind – if you are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things you never have, really should, and probably never will, read – then Benjamin Percy’s ‘The Slowest Reader’ is for you.
After taking in a paragraph, I might pause and stare off into the distance for fifteen minutes. I will then read it again, maybe twice more if it’s especially striking, and pick apart its construction…
It might take me two weeks or it might take me a month or more to finish a novel, but by the time I close the cover, I know it completely and see it as Neo might the Matrix, as a sparkling string of code that comes together to create an alternate reality. My wife now refuses to crack a book once I’ve read it, because the pages are distractingly blackened with notes…
My mind bristles with forests of sentences, but I no longer feel panicked and lost in the shade of them. I know the way now, slowly.
Percy is talking about fiction. But what would happen to pastors if we did this with, say, Augustine? Or Calvin? Or the Bible?