Saturday, July 21, 2007

Speed Reader

I have been a Speed Reader since the second grade, not to be confused with my childhood literary hero, "Easy Reader", as played by Morgan Freeman on The Electric Company. Dressed in my party outfit and waiting for my parents' guests to arrive, I finished an entire Nancy Drew book in less than a half hour; totally absorbed and scanning the text, I hadn't noticed the adults milling around with their drinks and their appetizers until I had finished the book.

This changed slightly in graduate school, when my mind would get stuck on the more complex and crucial medical terminology, as I forced myself to read more slowly, to make sure not to miss information. I have over time, however, developed another nasty reading habit, which I employ most liberally with murder mysteries and fiction: I read the last chapter before I start the rest of the book. Yikes, you're thinking, doesn't that ruin the suspense? Yes it does, and it is a remnant of my Type A control-freak behaviour, I need to know the ending so I can spot the clues to the resolution in the rest of the text.

Of course you don't need this methodology when reading the works of Charles Dickens, because every ending is the same: "And when the author fulfilled his word requirement, it turned out that the sad waif hungry orphan boy was really the son of the Duke, he married his true love who was able to look past the sad waif hungry circumstances of his life, and they raised proper Victorian children." When I speed read, I must get through the first 50 pages in order to capture my interest; I don't think I have ever gotten past the first 50 pages of any Dickens novel, even when I had to read it in high school.

Today, I stood on line - though not in costume - in anticipation to receive the last book in the Harry Potter series. In my excitement, the pre-order reserve form has been taped to my front door for the last three days. I read the New York Times review, which did not give away any spoilers, those bastards...

I now hold the book in my hand (the British version) and have a most important decision to make: do I read the epilogue first?

Duh, of course I do.

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