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Some books you must read slowly. I call these slow books. In my classification system, “slow book” does not equal “bad book.” There is a distinction. Think slow food. Slow books are like French cooking. Sure, you could buy a packaged rotisserie chicken and use a carton of stock, but you would miss out on the aromas and flavors of the dish as it was truly intended. Slow books are those which must be savored. You cannot read these books too quickly, because you will miss the breathtaking sentences that are more poetry than prose. There is nothing better than a sentence literally stopping you mid-page. A sentence so beautifully haunting or surprisingly accurate that you have to read it again, maybe even out loud. And, while they may take some time to finish, slow books will linger much longer. A few of my favorite, most recently read “slow books:”
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
Netherland by Joseph O’Neill
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
These are books that leave you completely inarticulate when someone asks “So, what was it about?” Instead you stumble around with your limited language and say things like “it was this amazing book about love and death and transcendence and stuff.” So, I’m not going to try to give you a synopsis of the above books. Instead, I’ll just recommend that you skip the rotisserie chicken, settle in for the evening, and read slowly.