My background is in the classics; my degree as an undergraduate was in Greek and Latin. We had to read texts line by line at a snail’s pace, looking up every word so it seemed, scanning poetry, investigating unusual grammatical points, or textual cruxes, or philological articles about diction and cultural meaning.
My graduate background was similarly textually focused. I read almost exclusively poetry, taught myself old French and Middle English, again at a snail’s pace. I ended up with the texts of Shakespeare, which (apologies to the theater people out there) are best experienced on the page, and read carefully and closely, again at a decelerated pace.
I was influenced by lots of literary theory that favored such deceleration of reading, such hovering over the text.
The drawback however is that I can’t read novels, not at all. I am a page dweller and can’t turn the pages fast enough to get through. This fact is a great source of embarrassment because I ended up becoming a literature professor, yet could count the number of novels I had read on one and a half hands. Sigh.
I’d like to know how others tend to read — are you a speed reader, or do you take the slow route as I do? Whichever way you answer, I’d also like to know: is this a learned tendency, or have you always read this way? And how does this affect the works you choose to read?