Do you consider yourself a slow or fast reader? I’m a slow one, and I used to use it as an excuse whenever I borrowed books from friends, or whenever they’d ask me what I was reading. But now I’ve decided, it’s not an excuse, it’s how I read, and it’s a badge that I proudly wear.

As I’ve been doing these reading roundups, I’ve noticed how many fast readers are out there. I couldn’t believe folks were reading 12 or more books a month. How? I figured these were the independently wealthy, but then I noticed audiobooks counted as reading, which is fine by me, but I still didn’t understand how they were doing it.

Then I noticed the type of books being read — romance or beach reads. Is it fair to call them easy fiction? And hey, no judgment, often I need something light after work. But then I was privy to a conversation a couple of colleagues had about speed reading. Ah-ha! That’s how they did it, but it broke my writer’s heart. I doth protest. “Those poor writers who agonize over every word, only to have it skimmed over, not even read properly, or appreciated.”

One of my colleagues, by my recommendation, said she started reading A Memory Called Empire, but she skipped the prologue because it didn’t make sense. I encouraged her to go back and read it, but the novel is filled with challenging and quirky excerpts from the author’s world building imagination, so I wonder for the sake of reading as many books as possible, if she will.

Again, no shade, but it makes me wonder why we read and how. I started watching YouTubers who favor slow reading. My husband has been expressing his dissatisfaction with Twitter for artists, but on WordPress (and even YouTube) he receives more nuanced feedback.

I won’t be surprised if our over-saturation and “need” for information creates a movement in the other direction, much like the slow food movement.


After reading A Memory Called Empire last month, I dug into Arkady Martine’s second installment A Desolation Called Peace. It picked up where the other one left off, and equally impressed me. We know sequels and followups to, say, winning the Hugo Award are difficult at best, but Martine delivers a one-two KO punch and nabs the Hugo Award again. First time authors should be so lucky. Le sigh.

Highly recommend Martine’s Teixcalaanli Empire for her excellent writing, storytelling, and world building magic.


Why do you read? And what did you read in November?

17 replies on “November 2022 Reading Roundup

  1. I’ve been working through one novel after the next by Lorna Landvik for a few months now. She’s a less cuddly version of Garrison Keillor, with a lot of focus on the homey, Nordic culture of Minnesota intertwined with a lot of this-is-what-it means-to-be-human suffering, death, misfortune, etc. Which can get to be a repetitive/predictable in some of her novels, but I can’t stop reading them. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Perhaps they are comforting in their predictability. I’m visiting her website now. Thanks, Naomi. I hope you are well and good, xo

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  2. Depends what I’m reading… and on the language. And I’ll sometimes re-read things. A few years back, I read through a short Japanese story too quickly, despite having to look up many kanji I didn’t immediately recognize. At the story’s (typically Japanese) non-conclusion, I found myself going back and re-reading the entire book much more carefully. It felt more like beautifully nuanced cognitive poetry on the second pass.

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    1. Lovely. Yes, I know I have a tendency to miss the poetry of sentences if I’m excited about a story and what’s happening. It’s good to slow down and enjoy the journey.

      When I was a teen, I devoured books, but when I went back and read them, I noticed not only what I missed, but appreciated them more. xo

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  3. I love the idea of a slow reading movement, Lani. I will be completely at home. Like you point out so well, it seems cruel to speed read when writers have obsessed over every word. I love beautifully crafted sentences, and often pause or reread sentences I love.

    The last two books I finished were The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers – an incredible real life adventure about exporting coffee out of war torn Yemen, and Cheese, Wine, and Bread by Katie Quinn. Both feeding my nonfiction love.

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    1. I watched some videos on slow reading and I like the idea so much I want to embrace it, and incorporate the idea of slowing down in my life.

      I’ve always been interested in Dave Eggers and the Monk book sounds truly fascinating. What a premise! I’ll bookmark that one. Thanks, Jolandi!

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  4. What is considered “slow” reading? I think I read about 2 books per month, as I only have time to read at night if my son sleeps early and I’m not too tired. 12 books per month is like supersonic speed, no? But when I really want to know what is going to happen (in thrillers and things like that) it’s true that I find myself at the end of the page very fast and then I force myself to go back and re-read, haha.

    “Those poor writers who agonize over every word”. We translators also have this problem, haha.

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    1. That’s a good question. Normal speed? ๐Ÿ˜› Yes, I, too, only have time to read at night which is why I wonder for those fast readers if they read all day. They might have mastered speed reading, as well, since I know that’s a thing.

      Translators! Oh my! I’ll bet! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  5. That is a great question about reading, Lani. I am definitely a slow reader when it comes to book. In fact I am a slow person when it comes to choosing a book to read, taking my time to read the blurb, look at the author, go through the contents first, read the reviews before getting to reading an actual book itself ๐Ÿ˜„

    It is true that writers agonise over every word only to have someone skim over their work. I think that’s the case with online content, but with books I think there’s more appreciation of reading and understanding what you’re reading.

    I am a slow reader when it comes to all kinds of books, fiction and non-fiction. If there’s a part that I’m confused, I’d go back and re-read right away. If I can’t follow along and lose interest, then I may just move on to another book.

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    1. Yes, I certainly don’t pour over every word I read. There’s WAYYYY too much content to get through in a day, especially, if you like to read! Or if your job involves reading.

      Reading for pleasure though is something I want to enjoy at a leisurely pace! Thanks, Mabel.

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      1. So agree. Reading for work or study is one thing, and reading for pleasure leisure is another. I also like reading for pleasure at a leisurely pace, especially if it’s a good book.

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  6. After reading your comments on A Memory Called Empire, I picked it up at the library the other day (I was looking for a book for Book Club but it wasnโ€™t there) although I donโ€™t often read science fiction. I recently watched a TV series of Asimovโ€™s Foundation and that helped me picture what the city was like. Husband is reading it too. His biggest criticism so far is that the cover calls it โ€œspace operaโ€ when (as he explained in detail) it isnโ€™t.

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    1. To be honest, I don’t know what constitutes a space opera. I’m sure I’ve looked it up and still ended up scratching my head — I think it must mean ‘epic’ or a play on the phrase ‘soap opera’.

      Foundation is quite the read. I tried to read it with one of my students and it proved too challenging for him (he was 13, strong reader). How’s the series? I haven’t heard much about it.

      Hope you like Memory as much as I did! xo

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  7. I also am a slow reader as well and always have been. It used to bother me because I would see so many people posting about how they read 16 books in a month and none of them were audio books, while I would only get through anywhere from 2 to 5. But that was years ago, and now I don’t care any more. I enjoy taking my time because I like to savor every sentence. If it’s a beautifully poetic sentence, I’ll read it over and over. If I feel a paragraph is really dense, I’ll go back and reread it. I even flip back to earlier chapters to make sure I’m making the right connections before getting to the climax of the story. And don’t even get me started on how long it takes when I’m annotating a book lol.
    Reading is so personal, and the most important thing over all is our experience when leaping into a new book world. If we only get through one book a month, so be it. One adventure is better than none.

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    1. I love this “Reading is so personal”… I suppose in some ways it’s like music. Some listen to the lyrics carefully, others, to the beat, it provokes a mood. It’s ‘me’ time at the end of the day (literally!) which is why it’s so important! Thanks for reading and your thoughtful reply.

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  8. That read of yours sounded really good. I’m amazed with those who can world-build. I have a hard enough time with my realist fiction set in the 20th century.

    I am also a very slow reader. I blame it on my writer’s brain that’s constantly thinking, wow, how did the author do this? I read something out of my usual wheelhouse last month–an audiobook in the car, on my long trips to and from my kids’ school: Chimes of a Lost Cathedral by Janet Fitch (she wrote White Oleander, which was a big hit ages ago). I got the audiobook free from my library–all 22 CDs. It’s definitely an epic, must be a good 5-600 pages long. So I might not have had the energy to read it, but listening to it was really fun. It’s set during Russia’s civil war and follows a young woman poet through her life as a literary figure, young mother (and lover–lots of lovers!) . It was a sequel to The Revolution of Marina M., but I found I didn’t miss much not having read the first book. That and the poetry of my friends kept me busy, reading, last month. Poetry collections are kind of forgiving for us slow and careful readers–I don’t have to feel guilty about reading just a couple poems at a time and ruminating over them, coming back to the collection later.

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    1. That’s so true about poetry. I used to believe that poetry along with Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe were required out loud reading. ๐Ÿ˜› Now, I must include children’s books and whenever the mood strikes!

      Thanks, Rebecca for your thoughtful comment, as always. Hope you are staying warm this holiday season, xxoo

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