How fast do you read? How do you get more information from the book you’re reading? Are you ready to read more books with speed reading?
Then, this is exactly the right place for you. In this post, we share with you several facts and tips on how to read more books with speed reading.
Average Reading Speed
The average adult reads between 200 and 400 words per minute. In contrast, most speed readers consume around 1,000 words a minute. With their rapid intake of information, speed readers usually give others the impression of intelligence. Yet, according to Dr. Kevin Jubal, M.D., anyone can learn to speed read.
The Benefits of Speed Reading
Why would you even want to read fast? What’s the point?
Besides the obvious benefit – the ability to process more information in less time – there are actually numerous reasons that a person would want to take up speed reading.
At the very least, speed reading can benefit you by:
- Increasing your brain’s plasticity, which can improve your memory and logical reasoning skills. In fact, studies suggest that regular reading can help to slow the brain’s natural aging process.
- Promoting emotional well-being and reducing stress levels, as reading can be both relaxing and enjoyable;
- Giving you effective tools to handle information overload (a pervasive problem in today’s culture); and
- Increasing your self-confidence and understanding on topics of interest or importance;
And the bonus is, you can read more books with speed reading!
Depending on your goals and reasons for wanting to digest information more quickly, there may also be person-specific benefits to speed reading. For example:
- College students often benefit greatly from speed reading, as it allows them to learn and process new and important information at a faster rate. In turn, they have more time to focus on other aspects of their academic career, such as writing or studying.
- Business professionals and entrepreneurs can expand their knowledge base on industry-specific topics at a faster rate. They, too, gain more time to focus on other aspects of their career, such as networking or lead generation.
- High school students who learn to speed read are often better prepared for the college experience and/or workforce. They also gain critical knowledge that can enable them to make better, more calculated decisions about their future.
The Science Behind Speed Reading
Speed reading isn’t magic. As a matter of fact, it’s actually rooted in science.
Most speed reading applications and programs cite the eye’s peripheral vision as the secret to speed reading. But they usually use this claim to sell you their product most of the time.
Dr. Kevin Jubal says this is more than a simple deception or misconception; it’s outright poor science. The brain cannot comprehend text outside of the eye’s center field of vision. It goes against the physiological process of reading.
Saccades, involuntary and jumpy movements of the eye, prevent you from following a fluid line of text from one side of the page to another. They can also make reading quickly difficult. They are a necessary reading element, as they allow the reader to go back and gather context clues.
Language decoding is another physiological aspect that hinders speed reading.
Furthermore, reading is more than just the intake and digestion of words or text. The brain must also decipher and decode the text. It must form relationships among the words and understand the implications behind them. This act of processing is known as “reading comprehension”.
Unfortunately, most speed reading programs overlook these important aspects of reading, which tends to make them highly ineffective.
Speed Reading Techniques (Why Most are Ineffective)
Speed reading seeks to minimize reading time while also maintaining the maximum amount of comprehension possible. Sacrifices to comprehension are inevitable, of course, but the goal is to achieve a balance between the speed of intake and the reader’s comprehension of the material.
This is different than skimming.
When a reader skims a text, they are ignoring most of the content and focusing primarily on the details of it.
In turn, they gain a basic understanding of the information presented, but it comes at a cost. The reader’s comprehension of the subject matter is invariably sacrificed.
This is also why many speed reading programs and applications fail.
Such programs are generally focused on presenting the text at a faster rate. They ignore the psychological aspects of reading, thereby reducing the reader’s comprehension. One prime (and popular) example is RSVP, Rapid Serial Visual Progression.
RSVP presents words to the reader in rapid succession at the center of their field of vision. The goal here is to minimize the back-and-forth regression movements of the eye. Unfortunately, this ends up being rather counterintuitive.
Regression movements, a process in which the eye quickly looks back at previously read words, is necessary for comprehension. It allows the brain to go back and gather context clues about the text. When restricted, like in RSVP speed reading, comprehension is inevitably reduced.
Since every person’s brain processes language and text differently, speed reading programs like RSVP cannot possibly match the cadence, timing, or sequence of regression for every reader. Additionally, it also cannot predict which words a reader naturally skips.
Most of us ignore words like “the” or “and,” but you may also naturally overlook other words as well.
Your brain also groups texts together to form relationships and associations between the words. It is your brain’s unique way of understanding and decoding language, and it is unlike anyone else’s.
Restrict its method, alter it in any way, and you reduce your comprehension of the text.
Quite simply, reading is just too complex of a task for some speed reading apps and programs.
Some are effective, however. These specific programs consider speed, comprehension, and the physiology of reading.
How to Read More Book with Speed Reading
Now that we’ve covered all the fun facts about speed reading, it’s time to get into the basics of how to get started with Speed Reading.
Speed reading doesn’t require a higher-than-average IQ.
However, you do need a basic understanding of the tools and principles of speed reading. So here are some things that you have to do and you have to remember when speed reading.
Step 1. Determine Your Goal
Maximum comprehension is not required for every reading task. Works of fiction typically encourage the reader to enjoy and reflect on the cadence or tone of an author.
Depending on the reader’s preference and the complexity of the text, comprehension may or may not be important.
In contrast, non-fiction texts are generally consumed with the intent of gaining more information.
Most readers consume non-fiction to increase their knowledge base in a specific area.
Comprehension is elemental to furthering that goal. As such, the speed reading approach to a selection of non-fiction is quite different from the one used for speed reading fiction.
Step 2. Be Flexible with Your Reading Speed
Some areas of text will be easy to read quickly. Others may be more difficult for you to understand at a higher reading speed, so you may be forced to slow down.
Quite simply, your brain needs more time to decode and decipher the words, ideas, or concepts presented.
Allowing yourself to become frustrated by this physiological aspect of reading can diminish your level of comprehension.
Embrace the slower speed instead, and give your brain the chance to fully comprehend what you’re reading. With practice and time, you’ll be reading even difficult text blocks with greater speed.
Step 3. Use a Pacer While Reading
Regression may be a necessary physiological element in reading comprehension. Yet for most readers, the eyes do it more frequently than necessary.
Usually, this stems from the eye’s natural saccade movements, which hinder the brain’s inability to fluidly follow a long, straight line.
The use of a pacer while reading (following the text with your finger or a pen) reduces the prevalence of these involuntary eye movements. As a result, the brain is better able to focus on its processing of the text.
Step 4. Push Your Limits in Easy-to-Read Sections
Doubt and disbelief hold almost everyone back in life. Speed reading pushes you forward, forces you to set aside doubt and simply trust that your brain will handle the work.
Challenge yourself even further and push your pacer faster than you think you can read. Let your brain do the work. When you reach a stopping point, reflect back on what you read. You’ll be amazed at just how much you remember.
Step 5. Avoid Subvocalization
Reading the text in your own voice (either out loud or internally) can significantly decrease your reading speed and comprehension.
Again, focus only on the visual digestion of the text. Allow your brain and eyes to do the work. Chewing gum while you read may help.
Step 6. Listen to Classical Music While You Read
Listening to music while reading might seem counterintuitive, but studies suggest that classical music can actually increase both reading speed and comprehension.
Experts believe this may have something to do with the way that the brain processes, that it somehow draws a correlation between math and literature.
If you choose to employ this method, strive for more soothing or relaxed music selections. Loud or fast-paced music could distract your brain away from the text.
Read More Books with Speed Reading Methods
As previously explained, the method that you utilize during a speed reading session depends greatly on your goal, and the type of text you are planning to consume.
So here are some suggested methods based on the reading goal that you’ve set for yourself.
Method 1: Textbook Speed Reading
Textbooks tend to administer information through a combination of text and visual aids. Large text blocks, designed to give context or provide detail, are generally superfluous.
Don’t be afraid to skim through them.
Take note of headers, sub-headers, italics, headings, and other important context clues. Then, if necessary, go back and quickly read the text for better comprehension.
Summarize what you read to check for retention.
Method 2: Speed Reading Research Articles and Other Academic Resources
Research articles and other academic resources often condense the most important information into specific sections. Visual aids may also be used to provide the reader with additional context.
To effectively speed read this type of information and fully retain it, you must take a systemic approach.
Start by slowly reading the abstract (or first paragraph). This area provides you with an overview of the topic, so you’ll want to ensure you fully understand it. Focus on the most important details.
Then, speed read through the opening paragraph, methods, and data to gain more context.
Intake all of the information, but maintain focus on your goal – what you want to take away from the reading.
Lastly, carefully and slowly read through the discussion or conclusion section for maximum comprehension. Summarize what you read when finished.
Method 3: Speed Reading Fiction
Since fiction reading is less about retaining information and more about entertainment, you shouldn’t feel pressured to read through it quickly. Instead, focus on your own personal goal.
Do you want to enjoy the author’s voice or spend time in the heads of their characters? Speed reading may hinder your ability to do this.
Is your goal to simply read more books?
If so, take comfort in knowing that comprehension is rarely as critical when reading fiction. In fact, you may find that you speed read fiction at an even faster pace than non-fiction.
*Check out 33 strategies to read more books this year in this ultimate guide I’ve created for any aspiring reader!
Many readers employ both speed reading and leisure reading when consuming fiction. Find what works for you! The goal here should be to have fun.
Method 4: Speed Reading and Audiobooks
If your real goal is to consume more books, you may find audiobooks to be a useful tool. Though not exactly reading, they do allow you to digest information at a faster pace.
You can even multi-task and listen to audiobooks while driving, exercising, cooking, or cleaning. The point is that you’re still consuming information without having to take time out of your normal, daily routine.
*My favorite tool to listen to Audiobooks is Audible. Get 30-days and two FREE audiobooks for signing up here!
Practice, Patience, and Persistence
It takes time before you can perfect a method, and this is true with any other skills. So practice, patience, and persistence are important tools for the new speed reader.
Since there is no magic trick or special program to help you read faster, you must be prepared to invest some time and energy into the process.
Be patient with yourself, and your progress. Over time, your skill and comprehension abilities will improve, so be persistent! Practice your skills.
If you start to become discouraged or feel like you’re no longer making progress, read strictly for pleasure. Remove the pressure to read quickly and simply focus on enjoying the process. Often, this is when speed readers truly notice just how quickly they’re digesting information.
Want to find out just how fast you read? Would you like to track your progress?
There are a few online tests that can give you an idea of your reading speed. Some will even administer a test afterward to determine your level of comprehension.
Remember, speed reading is about more than simply taking in information at a faster rate. It’s about digesting and comprehending more information in a shorter amount of time, allowing you to read more books with speed reading.
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Thanks for reading!
Now go out, read faster and read more…