I was trying to tell a colleague about a book I read last week (The Limits of Critique by Rita Felski, a lively, insightful, thought-provoking critique of critique that offers a clear path out of the labyrinth) but I got flummoxed by this response: You read a book in a week? I wish I could read a whole book in a week.
What am I supposed to say to that? I'm certainly not going to admit that I read not one but three books last week or that this is not such an unusual feat. I can't help it: I'm a compulsive reader with a freakish ability to read really quickly with full comprehension.
That's not the kind of superpower most people seek. In fact, Mild-mannered English professor saves the world by exercising her power to read really, really quickly is the plot of no action movie ever. Once you get past elementary school, there are no more gold stars for reading quickly, and you'll never see a reality show reward a contestant's ability to breeze through the pages of Remembrance of Things Past.
Granted, my ability to read quickly without sacrificing comprehension allowed me to earn a Ph.D. while working as a journalist and raising small children, but otherwise, it's a superpower that rarely earns respect and therefore remains well hidden. Nevertheless I'm certain that others of my freakish ilk exist out there somewhere, readers whose fingers blister from turning pages so quickly, who view a blurry world through eyes that insist on staying focused on reading-distance. Ye shall know them by their squints.
If you're out there, please: read Rita Felski's book The Limits of Critique and then get back to me so we can discuss it, preferably by tomorrow. Monday at the very latest.