Speed Reading

For anyone interested in training yourself to read faster, check this out. Here are a few excerpts:

1. Reading is linear. I had always figured reading was a linear process; you know, start up front and grind through to the very end in the exact order it was printed in. Reading is no more linear than thinking is, (or I eventually discovered, than writing; few writers start at the beginning — indeed, they usually “write the first part last.”

4. All parts of a book are of equal value. This myth persists until you actually write your own book. Then, all at once you realize there is “filler” material , illustrations, and even sometimes whole chapters jammed into a book just because the publisher insisted. Take messages for instance. Ever hear a message and wish you could put it on fast forward over that long story illustrating a point you already understand? Well, in reading you can fast forward.

SECOND: Ask: What is my purpose? Why are you reading this? And what kind of literature is it? Is it a classic or fiction work you are reading for fun? Then, why hurry through it at all? Like a leisurely meal, sit back and taste each bite — turn over the delicious phrases in your mind. Or is collateral reading for a course where you are must be familiar with the central notions? Then finding the notions is why you are reading, right? Or maybe you are reading collateral where you will be tested on the content? Or maybe collateral reading where you will be required to say, “I read every single word?” Or is this a book where you will be tested on the terms and dates therein? Or, maybe you are just reading the book searching for some new ideas for your own situation. Or you have to write a review. Or maybe you plan to teach it to others. See how different your purpose might be for each? Before you open the book, take a minute to state your purpose to yourself. It will largely determine how you read the book from then on.

THIRD: Do a 10 minute PRE-READ. Take ten minutes or less and pre-read the entire book. Go ahead and try this if you’ve never done it before. Treat a book like a jigsaw puzzle. Dump it out, then organize all the pieces first before putting it together. Read the dust cover and any cover reviews. Then look through the author blurb. Move to the Table of Contents and see if you can figure out the whole book from this page. Page through the entire book, page by page and glance through all summaries, tables, pull-out quotes, diagrams(especially), and scan through all the section titles and you go.

Chances are you’ll find the KEY CHAPTER while you are doing this. Some publishers say (off the record, of course) “A book is simply one great chapter with a dozen other filler chapters.” If this is so, find that chapter.

This is something I am going to train myself to do. I’d love to hear about your success (or tribulations) with it, so leave a comment or email me!


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