Dubai - Gulf News
As per a recent news report from the guardian.co.uk, a growing concern in academic circles has produced a ‘slow reading movement' to help preserve the increasingly unpopular concept of conventional reading — reading a text through to the end. The need for convenience is slowly closing in on the art of reading. Search engines have become the new encyclopedias, catering to our seemingly permanent time constraints.The British news report refers to The Shallows. It is a new book by "technology sage Nicholas Carr" and conveys that "our hyperactive online habits are damaging the mental faculties we need to process and understand length textual information." Somewhere down the line, we are most likely to lose the ability to comprehend and concentrate on a text longer than a 140-character tweet.
Gulf News spoke to readers about the idea. Eighteen-year-old Ayman Abdul Jaber's experience represents a recurrent aspect in current studying practices. As a student of literature, the Jordanian was required to read A Streetcar Named Desire for a class discussion.Having relied on his peer's opinions and the story's synopsis, he formed a brief judgment of the book and its characters. When a class discussion produced an almost unanimous disagreement with Ayman's outlook on one of the characters, he completed the book at home. He said: "I went home and finished the book, returning the next day to class with an entirely different perspective. Through the use of details, and emotions portrayed in the language of the text, I was able to feel sympathy towards the character I previously condemned."
A quote from John Miedema, the US-based author of Slow Reading published in 2009, said: "If you want the deep experience of a book, if you want to internalise it, to mix an author's ideas with your own and make it a more personal experience, you have to read it slowly." The slow reading campaign even recommends switching off the computer for a certain period of time every day in order to avoid the distractions that inevitably appear. Revisit the good old days; sit back with your favourite paperback without Facebook's alerts. Perhaps a far cry from the existing reality.
Mahrukh Hakim, a student of the American University of Sharjah, admits that she frequently tends to skim through information on the internet. When asked whether she practices the same academically, the 19-year-old Indian said: "I skim over the irrelevant parts of a chapter." Does she also use the average student's blessing in disguise, Spark Notes, the online study guide? "Yes, I do!" she said.
Author Pierre Bayard, of How to Talk About Books that You Haven't Read, said that frequent speed-readers have developed the ability to "form valid opinions about texts they have only skimmed". When asked whether she did the same, Mahrukh said: "I do not have discussions on books I have not read."
Corazon Tarcena, having been a reading teacher for 15 years at a public school in Philippines, claims that her students found it increasingly difficult to read lengthy texts. "There were instances where they managed to finish reading but I am sure they could not comprehend what they had read," the Filipina said.
What do you think of the 'slow reading movement'? Is it practical? Would you follow it?