Ever wondered how fast your read?
Or how fast it would take you to read Tolstoy’s epic tome War and Peace?
Well, Staples has heard your unspoken prayer. They’ve set up a virtual eReader—with a subtle nod to the Kindle—that you can use to test your ability to speed read for content.
Yes, there will be a test over what you read!
I have to say, I was pretty excited to see how fast I read when I found this posted in my Facebook feed last night. After testing—and then re-testing this morning because pride told me that I was “too tired to count those results—I began to wonder again about the problems of e-readers, speed reading, and the reshaping of the human mind.
Do eBooks make it easier to skim through material and miss the deep, rich beauty that defines much of what we call “literature”?
For the past two weeks, I’ve been reading The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros with some of my classes. The book is written in very choppy, poetic sentences that can be quite confusing, even frustrating, for someone who’s trying to read quickly on an eReader. However, Cisneros’ prose is really beautiful, and since she constructs her sentences like a poet, they often communicate more than a simple reading of the words would lead one to believe.
Why this concise book review?
Because this is just one example of what could be lost if we allow eReaders and “ereading” to redefine what it means to read for pleasure. What happens when—as if they already haven’t—authors and publishers begin to spit out books that cater to our speed reading habits? Will the be rich with literary imagery like books written before the Internet, TV, and photography? Or will they be stripped of any such pomp so that they will be more easily digested in a digital world?
I’m fine with reading quickly. Really, I am. I’m a graduate student working on a degree in history. I read quickly all the time. What I’m worried about is that we might allow technology to change us in a fundamental way, killing our ability to read classical, or even well-written modern, literature.
What do you think: will eReaders destroy our ability to enjoy fine literature?
How could/will this affect our reading of the Bible and the publishing of future versions of the “Good Book”?
Also, take Staples’ reading test. Then, post your score in the comments section. Don’t worry. No one will make fun of you…that much.
[Image via Rik Panganiban]