Some Advice on "Reading"

Two problems face the average student when reading in general, and one more for "reading" as the term is applied in my classes.  The first is the most obvious--reading takes time.  The average person reads between 30 and 40 pages an hour.  Any more than that and you are probably skimming, not reading.  That means that your average novel (about 300 pages in length) is 10 hours of work! 

When someone sits down to read an entire novel in one or two goes, the question must immediately arise as to whether that person has the capacity, all other things being equal, to just sit there for 5 or 10 hours doing nothing but moving her or his eyes across the page.  Can you?  Should you?  I myself have been reading novels for many many years and I still find it extremely difficult to smash through one in this fashion.  Moreover, it's physically not good for your eyes.

One must of course address the question of all things being equal.  Are they?  Are you generally in a position where someone isn't going to bother you or interrupt you while you are reading.  The longer your stint of reading the more likely it is to be sabotaged by some well meaning passerby.  Book people are often anti-social precisely for this reason.

Finally, for my class reading can be difficult because I've given you audio files, video files, text files, wikis, etc., all for the same material.  What does it mean to have "read" the work in this context?  Except in the most extreme of circumstances, I would say that your encounter with the work is always a kind of reading of that work, but it's different than an actual reading in it's capacity to reference.  With a written work, you may point to the exact moment your reaction was elicited.  In a film, you may press pause, but you will still have to point to an area of the screen--much more difficult to do.

Because much of our work relies on wikis and forums, it is important to have a feature of the "text" to which you can point.  As such, whatever your "reading," I ask that it be supplemented with the story or work in its written form.  This means, very important, that generally you must budget time for finding the scenes in question inside the text.  My advice is to look for verbal cues that can be plugged into a "find" function in your computer.

The works I have picked for this class are all very good, I think.  I hope that you enjoy experiencing them in whatever capacity you choose.
Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011, 9:18 AM