Reading Extensively Vs. Reading Intensively

A couple of weeks ago I glanced through a write-up and interview in the local newspaper about a professional story teller who was visiting India from England to give a performance and to speak about story telling, reading and books in general.

Besides being quite excited that the art of story telling was being highlighted and promoted as an actual profession, I was struck by what the artist had to say about reading extensively vs. reading intensively.

He said that most people look to read extensively these days – to read as many books as they can in as short a time as possible. (I suppose audio books aid this phenomenon as well)

He said people seem to have forgotten the beauty that lies in reading intensively – taking it slow with a book, really getting absorbed with what the book, its setting and characters are all about; allowing a book to take you somewhere else or to be immersed in someone else’s way of thinking.

I hadn’t even thought about these two contrasting ways to read and I’m glad that I chanced upon this write-up. It made me realise that I want to make it a point to read intensively. I think I do anyway, for most books, but I want to make it a point to. Of course like many people who love to read, I do have those moments when I want to get through a book quickly just so I can begin another, for I am sure I will never have enough time during one lifetime to read all the books I want to!

But really, what IS the point of reading only extensively and not intensively? Why read if we don’t REALLY absorb what the book is trying to offer? Or is reading extensively just another feature of the crazy, demanding, fast-paced lives we lead today, where it is so hard to just slow down. With all the things we have to remember to do in a day, just remembering to slow down can be difficult!

I am currently reading How Green Was My Valley, am doing so “intensively” and am enjoying every slow minute of it.

When I visualise “reading intensively”, I picture an IV drip whose contents are a book that slowly, drop by drop, begin to enter your system. A bit dramatic I know (not to mention bordering on being morbid!) but that’s just what popped into my mind right now.

So, what do you prefer – reading extensively or reading intensively and why? I’d love to hear some opinions on the topic.

(In response to today’s Daily Prompt: Contrast )


8 thoughts on “Reading Extensively Vs. Reading Intensively

  1. Very interesting topic. I always thought of reading as something I did to relax, to take time out and slow down. After reading this post, however, I’ve realised that recently I have been rushing with my reading and even feeling stressed about reading.

    I’ve been getting that same feeling I get with so many other things in life, where I want to get through as much as I can as quickly as I can so I don’t miss out.

    Thanks for reminding me to take it easy 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think a period in my life where I read “intensively” the most was childhood. These days, there are too many external things going on in my life for me to really get to that level again, truly. I may like a book, but in the background, I’m thinking about scheduling, what to cook for dinner, bills, etc. But your post was a nice reminder to try not to do that whilst reading. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • You know, now that you mention it, I realise it was the same for me too! I used to get so immersed, completely lose myself in a book (an Enid Blyton most often) and forget everything around me. I would imagine the food, the places – everything that was happening in the book! I think when we become adults, we have so many other responsibilities, like the ones you’ve mentioned, that our attention keeps getting diverted and it’s hard to stay focused. Also, perhaps we lose the ability as we become adults to let our imagination just run wild…….hmmmm…a topic for another blog post perhaps? 🙂 🙂 Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly! When I was little, I not only read about something, but I was totally there, in that place, with all its details! Oh, how I envy childhood sometimes. And I can only imagine life gets more complex with each passing year, and with it, our ability to get a lost in a book deteriorates!
        But yes, perhaps we’ve both found a new topic! Thanks for the idea! 🙂 I’ll be looking out for when you write yours out!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I read intensively, I get so immersed in the world of the characters that my husband can ask me a question, and I literally will not hear him. I’d like to read more extensively, and branch out into non-fiction, mostly about the history of things. I love fiction and read from almost every genre. I would also love to attempt a reading challenge one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’ve highlighted a very important benefit of reading extensively – that of exposing ourselves to new and different topics. One of the reasons we read is to learn about new things, ideas and thought processes. I recently read my first dystopian novel and was so glad that I had tried out a new genre. I too have recently become interested in non-fiction, something I wouldn’t have read say ten years ago. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate it 🙂


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