Susan Hill on the advantages of slow reading:
A strange competitiveness has emerged among some readers in the last few years. I have known book-bloggers boast of getting through twenty books a week, as if they were trying for a place in The Guinness Book of Records. Why has reading turned into a form of speed dating? The best books deserve better. Everything I am reading has so much to yield but only if I give it my full attention and respect by reading it slowly.
Fast reading of a great novel will get us the plot. It will get us names, a shadowy idea of characters, a sketch of settings. It will not get us subtleties, small differentiations, depths of emotion and observation, multi-layered human experience, the appreciation of simile and metaphor, any sense of context, any comparison with other novels, other writers. Fast reading will not get us cadence and complexities of style and language. It will not get us anything that enters not just the conscious mind but the unconscious. It will not allow the book to burrow down into our memory and become part of ourselves, the accumulation of knowledge and wisdom and vicarious experience which helps to form us as complete human beings. It will not develop our awareness or add to the sumo of our knowledge and intelligence.
Read parts of a newspaper quickly or an encyclopedia entry, or a fast-food thriller, but do not insult yourself or a book which has been created with its author’s painstakingly acquired skill and effort, by seeing how fast you can dispose of it.
(Gleaned from Howards End Is on the Landing, pages 171-173)