Have you noticed how special the dust on book pages is? This sparkling pile of all that we haven’t read and probably will never read because we just don’t have time! Where can we find time when we are constantly running from one appointment to another, being completely immersed in work? Well, in this case, all the books we dream of ticking as “read” will forever hide their secrets under covers.
Unless we adjust to the speed of the world we are living in. Crazy, overwhelming, and devouring speed of daily tasks hanging over our shoulders like a sword of Damocles (oops, several swords). But we still can fight it! Luckily for us, speed can always be increased, and that concerns reading as well. Speed reading, as a phenomenon, spread widely across the USA in the 1960s. And from that time on, more and more people started to develop their ability to read faster and, consequently, profited from gaining more knowledge.
A skill such as speed reading is extremely useful in the age of information, that is – in the 21st century. Lots of the things we are used to, for example, essay writing services, wouldn’t have existed if people hadn’t mastered speed reading. How on Earth would writers be able to deliver papers so quickly then (supposing they require searching for information)? Journalists, writers, business people, politicians, lawyers, and just ordinary people – they all need to learn how to read faster and better in order to keep up with the pace of their daily life. Learn how to do it by reading further!
What Is Speed Reading?
In 1959, the book “Reading Skills” was published and deemed as a worthy cause to start Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics business which included a course on speed reading later to be advertised on television and taught at universities for as long as 30 years. “But who is Evelyn Wood? – you would say, – and how is her book related to my desire to read faster?”
Let’s have a flashback to the moment, when a soft-spoken and well-educated woman, who also worked as a teacher and a girl’s counselor, noticed for the first time, how those who could read faster were also more efficient. When pursuing her Master’s degree in speech, she was looking for people who could read fast, learnt from them and, as a result, developed a speed of 2,700 words per minute. And then, Evelyn Wood began helping others overcome the habit installed in our subconsciousness – the inexplicable apprehension to “miss something” – which naturally prevented us from reading faster.
Thus, speed reading is a technique or a combination of techniques applied with a goal to read faster. Having reached an acme in popularity in the first 30 years, speed reading was later abandoned and was sitting on the fence until the time came for it to be revived. You see, nowadays we need it for two reasons.
Firstly, we are surrounded by information. And as everything becomes digitalized, we face an information overload. And that is the core of persuasive perception governing now – whether we want it or not, we perceive ads, notifications, article headings, etc. With the aforementioned skill acquired, you can read faster and get the information you need while still being bombarded but not slowed down by the additional, often unnecessary facts. Secondly, in the digital age it becomes patently obvious that with the screen dynamics it’s a shame not to know how to read faster (no offence, it’s the digital age).
So, the importance of speed reading cannot be overstated.
Recommendations on How to Read Faster
It’s not that simple to increase your reading speed if you don’t know what you’re dealing with. For instance, Evelyn Wood spent a lot of time observing what influences the way we read, but then she taught J.F. Kennedy himself! Guess you are ready to start with the tips?
Learn How It Works
As athletes learn about muscles and the ways to gain some, you should be informed about the thing you are focusing on. In case with reading faster, it’s a human visual system. When we read, we perform a sequence of saccadic (small and rapid) movements with our eyes, jumping from one fixation point to another. Fixations often remain unnoticed, and basically, it is a short moment when our eye stops and takes a so-called temporary snapshot. You can check it by placing your finger on an eyelid and reading a line. This way, you will feel how your eyeballs start and stop moving.
According to the statistics, people tend to spend 30% more time on reading just because they fall victim to regression and back-skipping. We regress at the moment we come back to the beginning of the previous line and reread it. It’s a conscious process, and it occurs naturally when we are distracted (or when the style is impressively perfect, then it’s okay). Back-skipping, on the contrary, happens on a subconscious level. It’s rereading a line with a misplacement of fixation. In other words, we read it again and finish either earlier or later than the previous time, thus worsening our comprehension.
In 50% of the reading time our eyes take a central focus, which is a habit of fixing one’s attention on the word you are trying to perceive. Using a horizontal peripheral vision span rather than concentrating on a single element of the phrase is far more beneficial to the speed of our reading. In short, to use it means to create an entire picture of a page or a paragraph and, therefore, comprehend chunks of information consisting of three and more words. Only 20% of our time is actually used to understand and, so to speak, digest everything we read. It means that we can read 80% faster!
All in all, we are accustomed to slowing down when reading and doing so unintentionally. But when informed about the problem, we are ready to overcome it, right?
Preview the Text
Already acquainted with the way your visual system operates and how you can deceive yourself by giving in to the common “bad” reading habits, you are ready to learn by practice. To begin with, always preview the text you are going to read. Pay attention to its structure, topics, subtopics. By doing this, you automatically eliminate the time spent on headings and comprehension of the information order. Besides, you’re already prepared for the time, setting, and the main idea of the book.
Determine Your Personal Goal
As simple as that! You should determine what your reason to read a particular book is. Depending on that, you can shorten the amount of time required. For instance, if you need to find concrete facts, it’s not necessary to read the introduction or other chapters. That is often the case with a ton of books to read for the research. Instead of struggling over every page, you can look for excerpts. The same thing concerns the texts that need more concentration. Be reasonable while trying to read faster and don’t neglect documents, important announcements etc.
Be Attentive and Mindful
Do you remember what the cause of regression, which we have already mentioned above, is? Yes, exactly, it’s inattentiveness. Before starting your reading session, be sure to put away everything that might distract you from the process. Concentrate on your sole purpose of learning how to read faster and better, and soon you will notice that you have stopped looking at the same line over and over again.
Read More Words at a Time
Yes, activate your peripheral vision! It will allow you to group the phrases together and even read a whole sentence at once! Needless to say, that you will also read way faster. Besides, by perceiving word combinations instead of single language units, you develop a sense of language and improve your knowledge. Besides, if you are reading in a foreign language and seem to understand only 60-70%, such a trick will help you to get the word in use and the sentence order.
Skip When Necessary
It’s important to respect your time. If you are stuck at the tedious descriptions of a living-room and dying to know who is going to kiss first, then skip it. You will only remember the events concerning the subject that interests you anyway, so why waste time on the Victorian furniture? The same accounts for just any book in psychology, business, science, etc. Straight to the point, no distractions!
Write It Down
Right after you finish the book, write a summary, create a mind map or tell somebody about its content. It’s an old-fashioned way of solidifying the information in order to be able to recall and apply it later. In addition, you will understand whether or not the goal you have set before reading is achieved. If not, you should analyze what hindered you and eliminate its cause to read faster and better the next time.
Let Go of Subvocalization
Do you hear this sweet voice of yours murmuring in your head just at the moment you’re reading a sentence? A relaxing, calming, soothing voice we’re so used to hear while reading a book. In science, it is called subvocalization or mental reading – a natural process which occurs intuitively. However, if to dive into the types of reading, one will see that it significantly decreases the speed.
Mental reading is the slowest type of reading that, surprisingly enough, is used by the majority of intelligent people. Their speed generally equals 250 words per minute. Then comes auditory reading which implies hearing the words, i.e. listening to an audiobook, and allows you to “read” 450 words per minute. The fastest type astonishes us with a 700-wpm speed, and it is called visual. That means, you understand the word rather than sound of it.
Therefore, subvocalization is a devious secret of your mind, trying to prevent you from being more efficient even if you apply all the tips for how to read faster. And the sooner you let go of it, the better.
Apply Reading Techniques
Evelyn Wood once said: “Speed is not most important, but only through speed do you get good comprehension.”
Having a sincere wish to learn how to read faster is not enough without practice. If you want to see results, apply speed reading exercises. Before starting your practice, determine what level you’re actually at, just to track your progress along the way.
Firstly, improve your technique. Yes, yes, there is a reading technique! At least, there should be one if you want to read faster. Everything you will need is a pen. And lots of concentration. To begin with, always use your pen while reading. Then, work with a time tracker. Your task is to read one line per one or even half second. Comprehension is not your goal at the moment. As E. Wood promised, you’d get it through speed. You’ll get it with time and adjustment. And later, seeing how much faster you read, you won’t even regard this confusion at the beginning as, perhaps, distressing as now.
Use Speed Reading Apps
In the 21st century, we are lucky to have apps of all kinds to speed up or simplify the process of learning among many other benefits. So, if you prefer a modern learning tool rather than an old-school way with a pen and a time tracker, use it.
How does it work? Apps help you read faster with an RSVP method. No, it’s not about private invitations, this acronym can also stand for Rapid Serial Visual Presentation. Presenting you single words or two or three words and rapidly changing them, such apps for reading faster help you perceive them and be constantly attentive. They answer such a question as “How to read very fast and understand what I’m reading?” because the apps focus chiefly on comprehension.
The best apps are mentioned here. Among them are Spreeder, AceReader, ReadMe!, Acceleread, Accelerator, Boba, QuickReader, SpeedRead with Spritz, Outread, ReadQuick, and Reading Trainer. To find more information about these apps, visit the website via the following link.
Following the top 10 tips mentioned above, learning how to read books faster will be a piece of cake if you are diligent and persistent enough. Remember that to do something fast, you should take your time. Don’t rush to see the first noticeable results after you’ve tried these tips only three or four times, fast skills require lots of efforts. Good luck in your practice and may your wish to read books faster soon come true!