Did you see Anna Karenina last weekend? Or did your husband insist on Skyfall or Lincoln? Or, more likely, since having kids, do you get out to the movies about as often as you get a hot stone massage?
If you haven’t read Anna Karenina–which would take roughly 33 hours and 24 minutes–try out this new flick starring Keira Knightly and Jude Law (2 hours, 10 minutes, done). The lavish, tragic tale may be old, but it’s ripe and juicy. The famed author Leo Tolstoy weaves together searing social commentary with epic love and tragedy. I listened to this book on a cassette tape with my mom during a 1400-mile car ride. Oh, the ending. We cried. And I better just leave it at that.
I’m a sucker for adapted late 1800s classic literature on screen. Give me Keira Knightly any day. I live for Price and Prejudice. Or maybe I break for Jane Eyre. That’s a tough call. Note to husband: Accents and period costumes are much bigger turn ons than James Bond.
As a book reviewer, often critiquing two releases a week for Publisher’s Weekly, I started reading faster than a flame flash in a bonfire. Before all of that, I was a snail, easily taking a month to finish 300 pages. I liked it that way. I savored my favorites, ripe titles like Pride and Prejudice,Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and The Help. My eyes relished beautiful and funny phrases like:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” –Pride and Prejudice
I highlighted favorite passages to go back and peruse them. When I adored a book (oh, Anne Rice and your Interview with a Vampire), I slowed down to make my literary love affair last longer.
Once I learned to speed read–by necessity–those laid-back book days were toast. But my romance with words remains white hot. I love books now more than ever because I get to enjoy so many of them. I have to concentrate–i.e. work–a little harder, but I retain as much emotion and meaning as I did before. Reading is just like holding yourself up in the plank position, or engaging in any other form of torture exercise. The more you do it, the better you get. I am fairly certain my eyes sweat.
Now I know how long a book will take before I start it. I can finish most of them in four hours or less–as long as they’re around 350 pages. I’m hoping to review Jennifer Weiner’s The Next Best Thing for you next week. The pages are large and the type is small, so it’s going to take about five hours. I’ll keep track.
In the meantime, I timed my reading speed with this cool app from Staples. My family and friends will not believe my score–I posted it in the image at left. They call me Piddle because I complete tasks like showering, eating and getting out the door at the steady speed of a sloth. I can barely get my kids to summer camp on time, but according to this website, I can read War and Peace in 20 hours. Where was this ability when I struggled through my lit classes in college? Just think of all the money I could’ve save on Cliffs Notes.
I’ll write another post soon with tips on reading faster. But for today, take the test. How fast do you read?