'The wind is almost due west now,' he told Stephen, returning from one of these tours, very near the night's end: but Stephen was asleep, bowed in an elbow-chair, his head moving with the roll and pitch of the ship, and she racing through the blackness with him.The image of Stephen Maturin, asleep in an armchair, as the HMS Bellona bowled along in the night, deaf to his friend Commodore Jack Aubrey's observation, woke me up. I had been skimming, following the narrative with little real attention, and now I was there in the cabin with Stephen and Jack. Jack's squadron, having made a show of intercepting slave traders off the coast of Africa, raced now through dirty weather to accomplish its real mission, to prevent a French invasion of Ireland.
A handful of times over the years, library patrons have told me of their capacity for speed-reading. They would finish reading the novel they were borrowing in a single night. I have never said anything, but I always wondered why they thought this was a good thing. I could understand speed-reading a textbook, if time was short.
We hear about the virtues of "slow food", meals cooked at home from whole, unprocessed ingredients. I would like to recommend "slow reading", a thorough chewing of texts. When I lose the thread of the narrative, I try to back up to where I lost it and read it over. When I read a word I do not know, I try to make myself look it up.
I don't much care for audio books. I tried a couple, but I feel as though I am being marched relentlessly along. When I read a text, I am always paging back to see how the narrative makes sense. I guess it's just a matter of temperament.
(This post edited 8/15 for pomposity and harshness.)