Slow Down & Smell The Ink

There has always been a trend of speed reading.  Many people have goals to read x amount of books in a certain time period.  Some are to read 100 books during the course of the year, or to read a book a week, etc.  I’ve always been very jealous of people who were able to read so many books during such short periods of time.  I did a quick search on Amazon for “speed reading,” and it came back with 907 results.  Hot topic for sure!

I’m currently taking an online English Composition II course.  For one of the first assignments, my task was to read Mortimer Adler’s essay “How to Mark a Book.”

I was first thrown for a loop when it started going over the many ways one should mark up a book.  I stared at the computer screen in disbelief.  I mean, textbooks I try to sell back at the end of the semester, other books I seldom write in because I know that I may not want to keep it forever and who wants a marked up book?

One of the examples in the essay was about a musical score.  That finally got my attention!  When I played musical instruments (Bb tuba and the flute), and when I would sing in different musical groups, I would make notes all over the page about getting louder, softer, pay attention to the director, etc.  Every time I would go back to a piece of music, I could immediately see items that I needed to pay strict attention and inevitably I would make more notes.

I then remembered that my Bible is the same way.  There are very few pages in there that are unmarked.  I would hear a sermon and make notes.  I would read a passage and it would remind me of a certain song.  I would cross reference passages to other passages in the book, etc.  The front, the back, and most pages in between are marked up.  I haven’t picked it up in years, but I bet if I did, all those marked up passages would bring back many, many memories.

I think the key point of this essay for me is that I need to stop being jealous of those who read non-fiction books in a speedy fashion.  Personally, I need to slow down to absorb what the author is trying to say.  I need to keep a pencil with me, or make notes on the Kindle, so that the next time I pick up that book, I can pick up where I left off.  I can continue the conversation that I had with the author the last time I read the book.  And if someone doesn’t want my marked book, that’s ok.  I’m sure that what I gain out of slowing down and having a conversation with the author is much more useful in the long road than trying to get a couple of dollars from someone haggling the sale of my well-loved books.

So slow down.  Smell the ink and enjoy the freedom we have to love our books enough to absorb them and take in everything the author is trying to get across.


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