What makes a book a hard read?
With some books I just blast through them like a manta ray cutting through the water. Other times, I am a salmon swimming upstream. Some books are gone in a day or two while others take weeks. In the following paragraphs, I consider some of the obstacles to fast reading.
Some books are just longer. Dickens couldn't seem to write anything shorter than a phone book. His shortest novel probably still comes in at over 700 pages. Granted, he was selling his stuff one or two newspaper pages at a time. Whatever the case may be, some books are longer, so they take longer to get through.
Some fonts are hard to read. You know how most books these days contain a little blurb about the typeface. They all glamorize their choice of typeface, but that doesn't mean they are perfect. Some are just plain difficult to read. They look dense and really clutter up the page.
Dialogue versus Description
Dialogue is much easier to read than long paragraphs of explanation and description. I imagine a 300 page novel that is all dialogue probably won't take more than an hour and a half to read. This is especially true when they stop writing the he said, she said parts and just have the people ping pong back and forth.
A deep book. A book with a lot of meaning and symbolism, as well as self referencing will require slower reading. The book I am currently reading (Ghostwritten by Mitchell) is a book like that. All the stories are connected, but only with great subtlety. It requires careful reading, and re-reading. One does not always want to miss what's going on.
I have been horribly sick, and concentration has been hard to come by. I should have read two or three books in the time I took on the last one. I blame the cold. On some days, I just didn't want to read. I was too busy hacking and coughing (not to mention shaking and sweating).