Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Salon: A Slow-Book Manifesto




Read books. As often as you can. Mostly classics.

Thank you, Maura Kelly. We've all eagerly embraced the Slow Food movement. We've tried Slow Travel. We've taken on Slow Money and Slow Schools. But it is you, Maura Kelly, who have challenged us to attempt the most important slow movement of them all, Slow Books
As you write:  



 
"I'm all for efforts like these. But why so much emphasis on what goes into our mouths, and so little on what goes into our minds? What about having fun while exerting greater control over what goes into your brain? Why hasn't a hip alliance emerged that's concerned about what happens to our intellectual health, our country, and, yes, our happiness when we consume empty-calorie entertainment?"


Maura, you have given us three important reasons to slow-book:

 
(1) "Because literary books are so mentally invigorating, and require such engagement, they make us smarter than other kinds of reading material, as a 2009 University of Santa Barbara study indicated." 
 (2) 'Research by Canadian psychologists Keith Oatley and Raymond Mar suggests that reading fiction even hones our social skills, as Paul notes. "Dr. Oatley and Dr. Mar, in collaboration with several other scientists, reported ... that individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them, and see the world from their perspective," she writes.' 
 (3) "Best of all, perhaps, serious reading will make you feel good about yourself. Surveys show that TV viewing makes people unhappy and remorseful—but when has anyone ever felt anything but satisfied after finishing a classic?"



You conclude, Maura, by quoting Joseph Brodsky's 1987 Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

 
'"Though we can condemn ... the persecution of writers, acts of censorship, the burning of books, we are powerless when it comes to [the worst crime against literature]: that of not reading the books. For that ... a person pays with his whole life; ... a nation ... pays with its history."'


There you have it. Slow-Reading: Makes us smarter. Improves our social skills. Makes us feel good.

Where do I sign up??



What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go.
Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....

That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

23 comments:

  1. There's a 'Slow Book Movement'?! Sign me up too :) I'm a slow reader by nature, so I'm all for taking my time with a book and getting back to classics. The few I've read in the last little while have bent my mind in a way I didn't think was possible - like yoga. It feels good but can't be rushed. Great post!

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  2. You could start a Slow-Book Challenge.

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  3. Sam (Tiny Library) has left a new comment on your post "Sunday Salon: A Slow Books Manifesto":

    Whilst I agree with all of this and I am a literary fiction and classic reader myself, I think the manifesto comes across as a bit snobby - like all other books are worthless, 'empty calories'. Which I'm sure isn't their intention?

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  4. Sheila (Bookjourney) has left a new comment on your post "Sunday Salon: A Slow-Books Manifesto":

    Thats true! I love coming out of a book with having learned something new!

    Happy Easter!

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  5. Lovely post! I think I read more fiction that non-fiction, so I'm happy it's helping my social skills ;)
    Happy Easter!

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  6. I like it! Thanks for sharing, Deb, and also for visiting my blog. Enjoy your day! And SLOW reading....

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  7. I am a slow reader and concur with the gist of your slow-books manifesto. I like to absorb lit (like fine wine?) and not rush reading amid the otherwise crazy bustle of our very busy world. best, susan http://www.thecuecard.com/

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  8. That's a great idea! I will go read the article now, too. I think it is funny to call it slow books, though, as most readers I know read as quickly as possible. I think there's something to be said for taking books slowly, too, but that's impossible as a blogger.

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  9. Have to agree with the commenter who said this sounds a bit snobby. The idea of Slow Reading as in putting aside plenty of time for it and not rushing a great book is a wonderful one. But calling non-classics "empty calories"? Hmm.

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  10. I have to disagree with Aarti. I don't think it's impossible to take books slow as a blogger. I'm a blogger and I take books slow. :) However, I know what she means, for those book bloggers who review books, it can be a challenge to slow down and absorb what you're reading.

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  11. I think it might come across as a little snobby, but I think the intent is to get the most "nutrition" possible from the book. You can survive eating chocolate chip cookies, but you will thrive with veggies, maybe?

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  12. Yay!! I'm up for Slow Reading!! Definitely!!! :-D

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  13. OOH - I like that idea of a slow book challenge. :)

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  14. Call us snobs if you want, but I'm thinking it may be time to slow things down a bit with a classic.

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  15. I like a good mix of fiction, nonfiction, literature, etc. The classics definitely have to be read at a slower pace to get the most out of them though.

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  16. A combo of "slow" and "fast" reads works best for me :)

    Thank you for stopping by my blog, hope you have a great day!

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  17. I'm a fairly slow reader sometimes, but I know this means something else :-). She loses me with the "mostly classics" part, but I do like the concept.

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  18. I always read too fast. That's probably why this appeals to me so much.

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  19. I'm ready to try a classic, I think. Maybe this summer?

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  20. I try to read slow, but everytime I do, three hours have passed and I've read too much.

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  21. I try to read slow but everytime I do three hours seem to pass and I've read too much.

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  22. I love when I read a book that leaves me wanting to learn more. It makes me pick up other books within that area or refer to some nonfiction reading that I don't usually do. The Slow Reading Movement - very interesting!!!

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