There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. – Ray Bradbury
All reading fans remember this saying of the writing guru, Ray Bradbury. A good book is a gift its author bequeaths to mankind. Thoughts of past times live in books, as well as voices of people whose ashes shattered like a dream a long time ago. Everything made, changed and achieved by mankind has been magically saved in thousands of books’ pages.
We all know that reading is not about quantity but quality. When we read, we dive into the magic world of a book; we live other lives, we dream, and we learn. But what should we do when we need to read and analyze a large amount of detailed information quickly? What if we need to read quickly because we have to do research and write a precis by tomorrow? How is it possible to read fast without missing the point and the most essential aspects of a piece of writing?
Everyone can learn how to read fast. The first technique that always comes to mind is speed reading, but although it is effective, it is not the only trick you can use. Read on to find out how to become one of the fastest speed readers who is able to process 10,000 words in a minute.
1. Stop listening to the words in your head.
Many of us have a habit of “hearing” the words in our heads while reading. Don’t listen to them because they always slow your reading speed down. There is a voice in your head that “pronounces” every word you read, and your task is to shut it down. How do you do that? You can try chewing gum or eating something while reading to avoid doing it aloud. Humming can work here as well.
2. Don’t step back.
Very often our eyes stop at the word we’ve just read. The reason of doing that is not a word misunderstanding, but a simple habit that slows our reading speed down as well. Just don’t step back every time when you’ve read a word in order only to read it once again. If you have such a habit, it may be difficult to break it at once, but the first step here will be to recognize it when it happens and try to avoid doing it in the future. You may need a little practice, but you will value its benefits for sure.
3. Don’t read every word.
Word-by-word reading is not a very good idea if you want to read fast. To get and analyze the main information from what you read, you do not need to read every word and sentence letter-by-letter. Just try reading blocks of words: focus on the middle of the line to read it as a whole, and try to understand its meaning. Once you’ve mastered this trick, you may try concentrating on the center of the page, avoiding reading every line.
4. Avoid all possible distractions.
You may think that you read better while listening to music or sitting in a crowded cafe, but your speed of reading will definitely increase if you reduce all these distractions to a minimum. Try reading in a totally quiet and solitary place, and if it is still impossible to do, you can use earplugs to block out noises. You can also check these 20 magnificent places to read books with pleasure.
5. Skip what you can.
There is no need to read every word, sentence or chapter of a book or a document to understand its meaning. A very effective trick here is text skimming, which works well for non-fiction. Try the following strategy: read the introduction to find the main claims, read the conclusion afterward, and go through chapters to find and read the most essential parts only.
6. Don’t re-read.
Many people have a habit of re-reading words or sentences once again to make sure they’ve clearly understood the meaning of every word, though it does not make sense in general. To avoid re-reading, try using a simple sheet of paper to cover every line once you have already read it.
7. Use your hands.
It may be difficult for your eyes to concentrate on some particular information, though smooth eye motion is very essential and important to have if you want to read quickly. Simple techniques, like tracing your finger down each line and page you read can help your eyes move forward and concentrate on a particular part of the text. But keep in mind the fact that this trick does not work for everyone, as it can easily inhibit the process of your reading.
Speed reading is impossible without practicing. One can not simply sit and use all tricks mentioned here at once, because speed reading is not a mechanical process but a skill. No one becomes skilled without practicing, so practice regularly, even when you do not have any deadlines to force you.
9. Read several books at once.
Did you hear of Jeff Ryan who was able to read 366 books in a year? Try doing the same by reading several books at once to get more information faster. The trick is to differentiate between the books you read; try reading different genres in order to avoid getting confused.
10. Listen to audio books.
When you do not have enough time or opportunity to READ all books you need (well, it’s definitely impossible to hold a book in your hands all the time), use a simple trick of LISTENING to them. If you are not an auditory learner, you might have difficulty retaining information in such a way, but you can always try it out and see what happens.
11. Have a clear purpose.
It’s very simple. Answer the question: what are you reading this book for? Do you want to get pleasure from the process itself, or is your purpose to get information? Setting a clear purpose can help you with speed reading, because if you read for information, your goal will be to discover the main message and find some specific info in the book, so you will not need concentrate on any unnecessary words, paragraphs and chapters.
Need more simple techniques to read fast? Check Bill Cosby’s essay How to Read Faster, where he offered three proven strategies of speed reading which can be useful to anyone. Bill Cosby was a Doctor of Education, and he taught effective reading, providing essential techniques to improve people’s reading skills.
Learn to read. It may be more difficult than you imagine. Learn to be selective in your reading, read everything with faith and the greatest care. Read everything that feeds your interest, and read everything that’s relevant to what you feel and do now.
Love a book. It makes your life easier. It helps you understand the colorful and tumultuous confusion of thoughts, feelings, events; it teaches you to respect a person and yourself. It inspires minds and hearts, and it lets you feel love toward the world and humanity.