20 July 2014

Book-Tube-A-Thon, Reading Speed, and Being a Reader

This week many of the YouTubers I follow participated in Book-Tube-A-Thon, a challenge in which participants read seven books over the course of seven days. Prior to this, YouTuber Kristina Horner announced her #JulyReading challenge to read every day and tweeted that her goal was to finish between five and eight books this month.

I read for pleasure absolutely every day, and consider reading to an essential part of my life and being a reader a core part of my identity. But as you can see from the book list I keep on this blog, I average two books per month, much fewer than other readers I've seen online. And while I love books and reading, I've never identified with the kind of single-minded intensity celebrated by the Book-Tube-A-Thon and various posts I've seen on Tumblr about skipping meals, outings, sleep, and just about everything else in favor of reading.

At first I wondered if my comparatively slow reading rate could be due to dyslexia. When I was diagnosed with auditory processing disorder, I scored low on test of reading words from a list as quickly as possible. My audiologist brought up the possibility of dyslexia, which is very closely related to APD. At the time I chalked my slow speed up to being careful about pronunciation since I have a tendency to trip over words when reading aloud, but the Book-Tube-A-Thon made me revisit the idea of dyslexia. However, online reading tests indicate that I have a slightly higher than average reading speed even when reading for maximum comprehension, so if I have dyslexia it's not bringing my reading speed below normal.

The conclusion I've reached about my seemingly slow books-per-month rate is that I read for shorter periods of time. Like many people I read before going to sleep, and I estimate my average nightly reading to last about thirty or forty-five minutes. I would have to read an hour to two hours per day to reach Kristina's goal of five to eight books per month, which is still a pretty reasonable amount of time. But although I could double or even quadruple the quantity of books I read by increasing the length of time for which I read, I wouldn't choose to do so. I enjoy reading in shorter bursts, taking my time to savor details, and pondering over passages. I think this makes me just as much of a reader as those who devour their books rapidly and insatiably, and I wish there were a larger online presence of "slow readers" so that others like me could have more of a community.

So, to help encourage a "slow reading" movement, I've decided to put a twist on the Book-Tube-A-Thon and complete the "video" challenges in photo form without participating in the speed reading challenge. Without further ado, here are my results:

1. Top three books I've read because of booktubing (YouTube videos about books)

While I enjoy both books and YouTube, I don't actually watch a lot of booktube videos and those I've seen tend to focus on genres I don't typically enjoy such as young adult. I loosely interpreted this challenge to include any books that were recommended to me, so here are three of my favorite recommended reads:

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, recommended by my sister Maureen
44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith, recommended by my mother
Jerusalem Inn by Martha Grimes, recommended by my mother

2. Find the items on three covers.

This one felt a bit like cheating since I happen to collect replicas of toys featured in books, so Winnie-the-Pooh and Hitty were easy to find. Rounding out the children's book theme is the red scarf I knitted that looks a little like Jenny's on the cover of Jenny's Birthday Book.

3. Draw a better cover for any book.

I chose to redesign the cover for The Diamond in the Window by Jane Langton. It became one of my favorite books when I read it at age ten or eleven, but I was skeptical beforehand because the cover art was kind of odd. I actually like the original 1960's artwork a lot better, but if I were to design my own cover I'd focus on the titular window. I'm not thrilled with my drawing, sketched in pencil and colored with art ink, but you get the general idea:

4. Write a story using all the words from three titles.

The Brontes went to Woolworths in heavy weather to buy Miss Buncle's book.

(Most participants interpreted this challenge as using as few additional words as possible, hence the extraordinarily short length of this story.)

5. Make a rainbow of my favorite books.

It was difficult to decide just which books to use for which colors, but this assortment reflects many favorite titles and favorite series. In rainbow order: A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley, Summer Lightning by P. G. Wodehouse, Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The House At Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne, and The Brontes Went to Woolworth's by Rachel Ferguson.

6. Find five things from a book you've read this week.

I've been reading Mapp and Lucia by E. F. Benson, so arranged here are reasonable matches for Georgie's paint box, Lucia and Georgie's sketching pencils, Lucia's violet riband (or ribbon), Georgie's blue envelope, and a Christmas card. Side note: I was quite proud of both how period-appropriate my items are and how well they coordinate with the cover art of the book.

7. Show where I read. 

My bed and nightstand, current read and Kindle in knitted case included.

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