I’m reading Francine Prose’s wonderful book, Reading As A Writer. “With so much reading ahead of you,” Prose writes, “the temptation might be to speed up. But in fact it’s essential to slow down and read every word. Because one important thing that can be learned by reading slowly is the seemingly obvious but oddly underappreciated fact that language is the medium we use in much the same way a composer uses notes, the way a painter uses paint. I realize it may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how easily we lose sight of the fact that words are the raw material out of which literature is crafted.”
If I love a book, I devour it, I race through it . I try to slow down but it’s hard. (though if I own the book I mark favorite places in the text and note page numbers in the back of the book so I can go back.) I was thinking of this the other day driving Emma to kindergarten. For the 28 miles from Santa Monica to La Canada she silently, lovingly read Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax She’s in love with the book. I read it to her the night before and certain passages she’s memorized. She’s learning to read and is in that breathless state of pretending to read, yet recognizing certain words and actually reading them. As she got really silent in the back seat, I could see her in the rearview mirror caressing the pages of the book, murmuring the words to herself over and over. And I thought she’s doing exactly what Francine Prose was talking about.