The OF Blog: How I am able to review so many books

Friday, May 28, 2010

How I am able to review so many books

Lately, I seem to be getting more and more comments in my posts asking how in the world am I able to read and review so many books without drifting off into the Harriet Klausner Zone of cuckoo attempts at "reviewing."  Time and time again, I would give prosaic answers about how I am an autodidact that taught myself how to read and that I seem to be processing words not as "sounds" so much as a bunch of pictorial representations similar to when someone is walking along in a crowd and notices and recognizes everybody all at once.

But this type of answer does not seem to satisfy readers here.  Some seem to think that I must be fudging matters, since "no one" can read 300-400 pages an hour for 3 or so hours a day on average and get "full enjoyment" or "real comprehension."  This being said despite my decision to write reviews of virtually every single book that I have read so far this month (I currently lack reviews of Peter Burke's Varieties of Cultural History, Tariq Ali's Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, Adam Roberts' Yellow Blue Tibia and Ursula Le Guin's The Eye of the Heron, but I might squeeze in reviews of each before Tuesday).  So instead of using actual evidence to support my assertions, I'm going to invent a reason that I will give to those who keep pestering me about my reading speed/comprehension:

See that squirrel over to the right?  That's one of several squirrels I have trained to read books and to write reviews for me.  Sure, an infinite number of monkeys typing randomly may produce Hamlet, but all I require are two dozen Serbian squirrels to do my book selection for me, my reading, and my review writing.  Why Serbian squirrels?  Because I have been assured that they are the most vicious and voracious of all the international squirrels and that they can quickly tell if a book sucks or not.  In addition, these squirrels darn my socks, cook my meals, and they can tap dance while they eviscerate their prey.  But I suppose you only care about the bookish qualities of these fine Serbian squirrels and not about their other Renaissance Squirrel proclivities.

The routine the squirrels follows is this:  They rustle through a stack of books I present them.  Then a team of three will alternate holding the book open and devouring its pages, which then is regurgitated for me to interpret and to type out for others to read.  It typically takes the squirrels about 2 hours to digest the entire book and to ruminate on its qualities and deficiencies.  For works such as WoT or Goodkind, the squirrels might take a bit longer, since they tend to have a sort of gag reflex that has to be overcome.  Afterward, they often proceed to shit that shit out of their systems, informing me as to the shitty quality of those works.

Hopefully, this confession will help stave off questions about how I am able to read quickly and with a decent amount of comprehension.  Just remember, my squirrels deserve a lot of recognition, so would you please give it (or your nuts) to them?

20 comments:

Amanda Makepeace said...

Ha! The truth is out. :D

Larry said...

Of course it is. The question is, is Larry really typing this, or has a Serbian squirrel taken over the blogging as well? Outsourcing can be pervasive, you know...

Paul said...

Can I have some squirrels?

Larry said...

Are you worthy of them?

Paul said...

You are Harriet Klausner, and I claim my five dollars. ;)

Paul said...

I am and....

Imposter! :o

Bill said...

I actually like the first reason better, the streamlined mental imaging cognition.

I can speedread via computer screen, but I read books slowly, I do like to savor and understand and consider.

But! The squirrel outsourcing is indeed an excellent go-to answer, and I shall reference that as your absolute truth from hereon out. Thanks for sharing.

(Other relevant translations: When I am published, Larry will be able to have squirrels poo poo it in 1 hr and 45 minutes. )

N. R. Alexander said...

That's all well and good, Larry, but your answer only begets another question: how can the squirrels possibly manage to read a book in two hours? Do they have squirrels of their own? An army of literary voles perhaps?

I demand to speak with the squirrels themselves. :P

Larry said...

I said the squirrels digest the books and then regurgitate it back out in the form of a review - it's all in their alimentary tracts, which handles pulp processing quite nicely ;)

Gabriele C. said...

Since most authors employ cats to help writing their books, it's only fair that squirrels should assist in reviewing them. :)

Larry said...

I wonder if I can get by with thanking squirrels in an Acknowledgments page...

Roland said...

Humbug! I call shenanigans! Squirrels can do no such thing!
What you need is otters, lots and lots of otters.
It is known!

The Witchfinder said...

I trained a platypus to read for me once. However, I demanded too much of my poor servant, and made it read book 6 of the Sword of Truth. By the time a certain noble goat made its appearance, the little thing went cross-eyed and keeled over. It is currently on life support.

Todd said...

Heh, now this one I believe.



But I'm curious, have you ever tried to teach your reading style to any of your students? I've heard you describe your reading style as reading multiple lines at once, and I may be fooling myself, but I think on rare occasions (and I mean rare), I've experienced that.

Have you ever tried to teach it, or is it something like photographic memory, that you either have or you don't? (Although I've seen rumors that you can teach yourself photographic memory too.)

Larry said...

No, I've never tried, in part because I wouldn't know the first thing about how to teach this form of reading (maybe one of my relatives could, but they can't read as I do). It's just something that I can do and it's hard to think of how it could be taught, without the person doing a ton of trial and effort.

The squirrels, on the other hand, do not need to be taught this. Not only can they devour the pages faster than I, but they can also multitask as well. The revolution is imminent.

Todd said...

No, I suppose you're right. It'd also probably be easier (though definitely not easy) to try and catch 'em when they're young, and not set in their reading ways. If I remember right, you teach older students right? High School or some such?


And I never thought you were the one to teach the squirrels. I figured you learned it from them.

(And just to be clear, to any majestic creatures that may be reading this, I, for one, welcome our furry, soon-to-be overlords.)

rahkan said...

From reading your reviews, there is no question in my mind that you're actually reading and understanding the books you read (probably better than I understand the books I read).

But I am deeply envious, so I can certainly understand the desire to deny your freakish, and I dare say unteachable (is it teachable?) ability.

Harry Markov said...

And they are Serbian... I am in awe and astonished you managed to tame the fabled and feared, furry Serbian squirrels...

Robin McCormack said...

Ah squirrels. I'll have to tell a friend who reads as fast as you about that one. I thought I read fast but my rate is only 1/2 your speed. I read a great book - "Upside Brilliance: the visual/spatial learner" which taught me a lot. I always thought everyone saw pictures in their mind as they read.

Terry Weyna said...

I knew it! I knew it!

People ask me the same sort of question, and I read barely a fraction of what you do. Must be because I use cats instead of squirrels.

 
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