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The Sunday Salon: Snowstorms and Speedy Re-Reading

The Sunday Salon.com Earlier this month I made a tentative plan to spend the rest of the year trying to read books I already have — review copies or bought copies — and limit books from the library to try and make a dent on the piles and piles of books that are starting to weigh on me.

Of course, I wasn’t going to pull myself off the lists of holds I’m on at the library, which foiled my plans: Both The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and The Magician King by Lev Grossman arrived for me on Tuesday. Curses, effective library system! (I kid, I kid!).

Of course, I dropped all my other reading plans to start those, since I haven’t figured out my library’s renewal policy exactly and would be deeply sad if I had to send them back. I finished The Marriage Plot yesterday — mini review: I loved the beginning, thought it got a little meandering through the middle, but unexpectedly loved the ending — and immediately wanted to start The Magician King.

However, I got about 10 pages in and realized I couldn’t remember anything about The Magicians, Grossman’s first book in the series that I read last year, except that it was like Harry Potter but darker. It was like there was this gaping hole in my brain where a summary of The Magicians should go. I even went online to try and find some clues, but it seems that the Interwebz is entirely devoid of a comprehensive plot summary of The Magicians. How is that possible?

Anyway… I decided I couldn’t read The Magician King without refreshing my memory. It just wasn’t going to be satisfying, and I am over-the-moon excited about this book. If I lived in a town with a bookstore, I would have gone out and bought a copy immediately. Luckily, my small local library came through in a big way again because they had a copy of The Magicians in stock and on the shelves!

I had to brave our first winter snowstorm yesterday to go cover a story anyway, so I made a detour to the library first to pick up the book. I got home from working at about 6 p.m., ate dinner, and settled in with the book for the evening at about 7 p.m. I don’t know what got into me, but I read that book amazingly fast. I’ve only got about 50 pages left in a 400 page to finish this morning! I read fast, but not normally that fast.

I’m not much of a re-reader, so this particular super speed-reading experience was novel. It made me curious whether it’s possible to read faster when we’re re-reading because there’s a subconscious familiarity with the the book? Or, whether the fact that I’m mostly re-reading The Magicians as a plot refresher rather than diving into it for the first time meant I was reading less deeply and therefore more quickly? Has anyone else had this experience? Thoughts?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Stephanie November 20, 2011, 9:44 am

    I definitely feel like I read much faster when I am re reading. I am glad you were able to track down a copy of The Magicians so quickly–I often have problems with remembering books in a series!

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:37 pm

      I was really glad I could grab a copy too — I was so worried the library wouldn’t have one in stock. My new library rocks.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) November 20, 2011, 12:19 pm

    I re-read very little, but it makes sense to me that it would go faster. I can’t imagine snow already!

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:38 pm

      Well, here in Minnesota it wasn’t too much of a surprise… although still unpleasant. Thankfully, since I wrote this post its warmed up and the snow is gone, yay!

  • Lisa @ BaffledBooks/Adventures of 2.0 November 20, 2011, 12:56 pm

    Like Kathy, I don’t retread often but it makes a lot of sense that it would go faster. You already know most of the main events and, if you’re reading it as a refresher, you only really need the gist of things, not the details. I still haven’t read The Magicians, is it worth me hunting down a copy?

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:39 pm

      I liked The Magicians quite a bit, but I know other people who weren’t as thrilled with it. That said, The Magician King (which I finished over Thanksgiving) was an absolutely stellar book. Just brilliant. I’d read The Magicians if only to be able to read The Magician King.

  • Teresa November 20, 2011, 1:40 pm

    Rereading often goes faster for me. I think it’s mostly because I remember enough that I can read straight through without ever paging back to double-check on things that I missed. Also, on a second read, I know what bits are skimable, although I often slow down for favorite parts or parts that deal with details never quite wrapped my head around.

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:40 pm

      That’s a good point about why it might be faster. I did skim a bit over parts I remembered quite clearly too.

  • Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm November 20, 2011, 4:15 pm

    Re-reading goes faster for me too. I mostly just re-read my favorite author (Georgette Heyer) and I find that I can read almost twice as fast as normal if I’m reading one that I’ve read before 2 or 3 times over the years.

    • Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm November 20, 2011, 4:15 pm

      Oh and I can’t believe snow already either! It’s 74 here today… 🙂

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:41 pm

      This makes me wonder how fast I would be able to re-read Harry Potter, especially the first ones that I’ve read many times.

  • softdrink November 20, 2011, 4:22 pm

    This is why I’ve never read the last Harry Potter book. Because I have a terrible memory, and I don’t want to re-read the first 6 books!

    And I can’t remember much from The Magicians, either. I do remember thinking it was too Narnia-like and I wasn’t much interested in book 2. Luckily, I’ll have you to tell me if I made the right decision. 😀

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:42 pm

      That’s a perfect excuse to re-read the first HP six books! I bet you can find really good summaries on the Internet that would work too.

      I thought Magicians 2.0 was totally awesome. I was giddy when I finished it. There’s still a lot of similarities to other fantasy types, but it’s much more sophisticated and interesting.

  • Aths November 20, 2011, 4:24 pm

    Every once in a while, a book from my library spoils my reading plans too! Why do my library books seem to sound so much better than the books I am reading?

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:42 pm

      Isn’t that the truth? I’m a sucker for new and shiny library books.

  • Kailana November 20, 2011, 7:15 pm

    I re-read very rarely… I really want to read The Magicians one of these days. I can see it sitting on my TBR shelf from here. It would help if I was reading much of anything lately!

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:43 pm

      My reading in November was much faster than normal, so that was a big plus in being able to make some time to re-read.

  • Anastasia @ Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog November 20, 2011, 8:52 pm

    I definitely think I read a book faster when I’m reading it again. Probably because I remember bits of when I read it the first time, and so I’m “skimming” more?

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy The Magician King!

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:43 pm

      Yeah, I think that’s a big part of it. I must have skimmed a lot of the beginning of the book since that’s less interesting than the end.

  • Christina November 21, 2011, 9:30 am

    Like others have said, I imagine it’s because you remember more of the book and are skimming more of it. I find that, for really memorable books, my brain begins to fill in the ending as I’m rereading to the point that rereading a book isn’t as enjoyable as it was the first time around.

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:44 pm

      Mmhmmn, yes, I should have thought of that! Bummer about it not being as enjoyable, that’s sad. I could not remember any relevant details in The Magicians, so the ending was still mostly a surprise.

  • Jeanne November 22, 2011, 7:56 am

    Chiming in, yes, I reread faster because I skim more. It is going to be so worth it–I’m not the only person who liked The Magicians and then loved The Magician King!

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:44 pm

      A lot of people have had that reaction, me included. The Magician King was SO GOOD! Sooooo good. I don’t even have words yet.

  • Vasilly November 22, 2011, 5:32 pm

    I think I’m the opposite of everyone who’s left a comment. When I re-read, I read slower. I think it’s just in case I missed anything the first time. Plus I’m more likely to take extensive notes the second time around.

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:45 pm

      Huh, interesting! Why do you take more notes the second time around? On the couple of re-reads I’ve done this year, I haven’t taken any notes because I don’t really plan to review them, I think.