A testament to the art of reading

‘I once asked some students how fast they could read, and one of them said she could cover 100 pages in an hour, so I decided to use Housekeeping to teach the students how to do slow reading. (Books written to be consumed at one sitting or in a day don’t interest me.) We read a chapter a week, and the students keep an extensive reading journal. They read not by scanning the text or summarizing the gist of a chapter or making conclusive and/or judgmental statements. Rather, they read word by word, sentence by sentence, and they ponder over an unfamiliar word choice, a fleeting gesture, the shadow of an image, and the ripple of a sentence seen in the following sentence. The collection of their thoughts, observations and questions is very touching. It’s a testament to the art of reading with not only five senses but also with memory and imagination. And I hope it’s the most important thing I can teach my students: not merely the crafts of writing but the importance of paying close attention, to the world in a book and to the world beyond a book.’

— Yiyun Li, in ‘One Day, Yiyun Li Might Get Around to Reading Roald Dahl


literature marilynne-robinson yiyun-li