Some of the most influential people in the world have said that reading is the key to knowledge, expanding your mind and understanding and gaining true success. But as an average Joe, how many books can we conceivably read? You might get through a few books a year if your attention span lasts that long, or more if you’re really an avid reader.
But what if I told you that it’s possible to read 200 books a year? And in doing so opening your mind and creating a better path to success?
Why Do We Find it So Hard to Read Quickly?
So now you’re probably thinking 200 books a year is a ridiculous feat and in no way, shape or form do you have that kind of time!
According to the maths, it will take 417 hours to read 200 books when reading at 400 wpm . If you think you don’t have 417 hours to spare then consider that the average person spends 2250 hours a year watching TV and checking social media combined. So when you think of it like that, you realize a bit of prioritizing can make it possible.
But reading at 400 wpm is a considerable speed and many of us aren’t used to reading at that kind of pace. When it comes to reading for pleasure, taking your time can be relaxing but if you’re wanting to read for self-growth and expanding your mind, the more books the better.
So why do we find it hard to speed read? The answer is most likely because we unconsciously use vocalisation while we read which will slow down our speed to about 200 wpm. And our fear of missing out makes us read everything which doesn’t benefit us much actually.
Stop Vocalisation: Just Read with Your Eyes
Why do we vocalize? When we learn to read we are taught to read out loud and this habit stays with us although we internalize the narration instead. In other words, we imagine speaking the words.
This means our talking speed is also our reading speed so how can we stop this habit?
It’s all about understanding that the words aren’t important but rather the ideas, concepts and information behind them. We do actually do this for a number of words, for example when we see the date 1981 we may not vocalize the words nineteen-eighty-one in our head but by just looking at the year we understand its concept.
There are several ways to minimise vocalization:
- Force Yourself to Read Faster. When you speed up your reading you naturally take in the concepts behind the words rather than thinking about every word. With a bit of practice your brain can eliminate the need to vocalize the words and you gradually get better at it.
- Guide Your Eyes With Your Fingers. It seems like a child-like thing to do but guiding your eyes through each sentence with your fingers is a good speed-reading technique. It minimizes vocalization and allows you to focus on groups of words rather than individual ones. It stops you from fixating and naturally speeds you up.
- Listen to Music. This only works if you listen to neutral music that doesn’t elicit memories or has a strong beat. Listening to music while you read helps you concentrate and eliminates the habit of vocalization.
Overcome the Fear of Missing out and You’ll Gain More
Another habit that slows down our reading is the concept of missing out. Our brain tends to believe that if we don’t read every word then we may miss out on understanding an important part of the chapter or story. However, this is rarely the case.
The importance is more in understanding the concept and we can do this without absorbing every word and sentence. Of course, this mainly applies to a book where we’re obtaining information.
- Get Over the Fear. It really is about getting over the fear that not taking in every word is going to hinder your understanding. Let go of this need.
- It’s About Getting The Main Concept. If you believe you’ve understood the main concept without reading every word or every chapter then you probably have. Trust yourself more and remember that you can always go back later on.
Speeding up our reading doesn’t have to mean cutting down on the quality of our reading. Understanding these two key skills will help you towards reading much quicker and therefore exposing yourself to more information. Reading 200 books a year is possible so why not try it out and challenge yourself? Try these techniques and get speed reading.