Learn to read books again—slow down to pre-gadget habits

Posted By on September 27, 2014

The WSJ printed an interesting article by Jeanne Whalen earlier this month listing the benefits of s-l-o-w-e-r reading.  A Wellington, New Zealand book club calling itself the Slow Reading Club consists of members who “miss old-school reading” and may be on to something. They get together at a café and spend an hour reading in silence, with their electronics or cellphones turned off.  The goal for them is to get back to reading for enjoyment ; the benefits for all of us, besides pleasure, is that reading slower “improves ability to concentrate, reduces stress levels and deepens ability to think, listen and empathize,” this according to advocates of slower reading.

slowreadingclub

Screens have changed our reading patterns from the linear, left-to-right sequence of years past to a wild skimming and skipping pattern as we hunt for important words and information.

More academics and writers are advocating a return to absorbing, uninterrupted reading—slow reading, as they call it. WSJ’s Jeanne Whalen discusses with Tanya Rivero. Photo: Getty

One 2006 study of the eye movements of 232 people looking at Web pages found they read in an "F" pattern, scanning all the way across the top line of text but only halfway across the next few lines, eventually sliding their eyes down the left side of the page in a vertical movement toward the bottom.

None of this is good for our ability to comprehend deeply, scientists say. Reading text punctuated with links leads to weaker comprehension than reading plain text, several studies have shown. A 2007 study involving 100 people found that a multimedia presentation mixing words, sounds and moving pictures resulted in lower comprehension than reading plain text did.

Slow reading means a return to a continuous, linear pattern, in a quiet environment free of distractions. Advocates recommend setting aside at least 30 to 45 minutes in a comfortable chair far from cellphones and computers. Some suggest scheduling time like an exercise session. Many recommend taking occasional notes to deepen engagement with the text.

LINK to article

Comments

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.