Like all passionate readers, I sometimes feel anxious about the number of books I’ll never be able to read. A single lifetime is just a blip when you consider all the delicious literature out there, waiting to be consumed.
That was the first thing I thought of, after my mild horror subsided, when I heard about the new hyper-speed-reading app Spritz. Spritz promises reading speeds of over 500 words per minute; at its fastest, it can allow users to read the Bible cover to cover in 13 hours.
Why the mild horror? Well, it’s another byproduct of being a passionate reader: I’m torn between the desire to read as many books as possible, and the pleasure of lingering in each one. There’s no lingering in the magic of a scene at 500 words per minute.
This Atlantic article makes a great point that the app’s greatest utility may be sifting through the pages and pages of online articles many people feel socially and professionally obligated to read. If your goal is to be able to say you read it, that’s fine. Maybe eventually we’ll evolve to be able to comprehend at that speed, as well.
Like the eReader, Spritz is bound to be looked on with some distrust by some book fans. Unlike Hank Green, I don’t think bound books are the pinnacle of reading forms — I just think they’re different, with their own advantages and disadvantages like any other format. (I do, however, agree with the rest of this hilarious video.) As my mom, Libby Sternberg, points out in The Wall Street Journal, reading methods have evolved over millennia — one day paperbacks were the racy new thing. Maybe Spritz is the new paperback. Perhaps the technology we look on with curiosity and mild horror today will be how the next generation consumes most of its written material.
There’s one thing Spritz can’t promise, though — the ability to read everything. No matter how fast you read, you’ll never be able to read it all. Could Spritz get you closer to a dent (or maybe just a scratch, if we’re being modest) in the literature of the world? Perhaps. But at the end of the day, reading is like life — you make the best choices you can, based on wisdom or pleasure or both, and try to experience whatever you can manage as you hurtle into the future, because there’s no doing it all.