One of the challenges of reading well in the 21st century is that society's relentless focus on technology and productivity has caused many people to value thinking quickly over all else. Or if they don't explicitly celebrate thinking at high speeds, they're forced to have their brains do it anyway. Work hard, work hard get things done!
It can be hard to slow down. One's mind grows accustomed to moving at a certain speed, and it's difficult to switch gears and, say, savor a novel that takes its time telling you a story. I was working particularly hard on several projects right before a two-day beach getaway earlier this spring. I was exhausted and stressed, my thoughts moving quickly from task to task to make sure everything was going to get done.
Once I was in my beach chair, I turned on my e-reader and selected The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson, about a boy growing up in North Korea. I'm fascinated with that country and was looking forward to the novel--but I couldn't quite focus on it. I seemed to want ... more, faster. "OK," I thought, "I'm not ready for this yet, so I'll switch to genre reading." The second season of Game of Thrones was about to start on HBO, and I was interested in tackling Book 2 in the series before seeing it on television. But the leisurely pace of narrating the lineage of warring houses frustrated me. Clearly I was in a bad place.
So then I switched to crime, with Lee Child's 61 Hours, featuring Jack Reacher. Ah, here I go--a fast pace with plenty of fun facts along the way. My frantic brain had found its match.