The Sword and Laser discussion

Improving Reading Speed

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message 1: by Daniel (new)

Daniel (Aeolyn5601) | 2 comments I do not have the most time in the world and I have a desire to read faster. I tend to think back to a MacGyver episode where he has a friend who can read 2000 words a minute with 100% comprehension. Whether that is even possible, I have no idea, but does anyone have tips on increasing the speed of your reading? The more books I can get through, the better!

message 2: by Elie (new)

Elie Harriett | 56 comments Don't think this works for everybody, but what worked for me was I started reading comic books. No factual data on why that worked, only a theory. But my theory is comic books make your eyes jump around to find the next word balloon without interrupting the flow of the narrative, and they make you comprehend pictures in sequence while reading, again, while keeping time with the narrative.

It was several years later when I noticed my speed when reading a normal book ratcheted up by a lot.

message 3: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 4973 comments I haven't tried this, but

message 4: by Ed (new)

Ed [Redacted] (Ed__) | 11 comments There has been some research done into the subject and it appears that there is a bit of a cap on how fast anyone can read with reasonable comprehension. The above example of 2000 words a minute with 100% comprehension is almost certainly impossible. most research has shown about 400 wpm is about as good as it is going to get with acceptable comprehension for almost anyone. I heartily recommend the Skeptoid podcast (after listening to S&L of course...twice...and purchasing an audiobook from Audible) and there is in fact an episode about speed reading that can be found hereabouts it is episode #229 originally released on 10/26/10. Enjoy.

message 5: by David (last edited May 29, 2011 03:25AM) (new)

David (Lawki) | 51 comments I've used Spreader ( to play around with speed and the number of words I can take in while retaining comprehension. It's free. I found that I read differently on my own, but it mades taking in groups of words something to remember.

message 6: by Louis (new)

Louis (osiramon) | 54 comments I don't know about structured speed reading tips, but in 6th grade, we had a guest speaker who talked about it. He said the first thing to do is to stop moving lips, then to get the 'voice' in your head to stop being the reader. You get that from when you learned to read and teachers make you read aloud. Most stop moving lips on their own. The voice is harder to remove. Apparently it limits your reading to about 4 times true voice speed.

He said to get rid of it, you start by looking at grouping of words, and then the line, then two lines and then for some people parargraphs.

I took this short decryption and applied it over time, and I do read quite fast. I think It more as patterns. I see the pattern of the writing at once and it makes sense. This works also if I read French, but it is slower. I can't do multiple lines of text in French. It doesn't work for me if it's math, or something that has different rules, like some poetry. It was sorely tried by Moby Dick. The older writing style is difficult, and the voice comes out to speak.

There is nothing wrong about using the voice, especially because you can change it to be anyone reading. It is the fall back method. And if I am reading something fast, but it is a good paragraph, I'll reread it in voice. Just to savor.

I know it's not much, but it's what I learned many years ago.

message 7: by Louis (new)

Louis (osiramon) | 54 comments Tamahome wrote: "I haven't tried this, but"

I wrote my post above this before going to this suggested link. I can see how it is similar to what I have done. It may be that those exercises will help. No matter what, it will not slow you down any.

Like anything, it is practice, practice, practice. So read what you like for fun when trying to read faster. Don't try reading text books fast to start.

message 8: by Kris (new)

Kris (KVolk) | 796 comments just to follow up you basically learn to skim by reading the down the middle of the page and letting your brain fill in the small words. Takes practice and focus but you do see it improve. Also just use more ways to read to up your consumption. Use Audible when ever in the car etc, keep book always avaible for quick times to read.

message 9: by Daniel (new)

Daniel (Aeolyn5601) | 2 comments Thank you all for the advice! I will certainly try these methods out and report back!

Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2060 comments Chances are that dialogue sections are more important to a story than long descriptions. Try to train yourself to decide in the first sentence if that paragraph is really going to be that interesting. If not, skim or skip. I do these things not on purpose. An author has to be really compelling with language to slog through every word.

message 11: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 4973 comments I never skip. But often if I'm bored by something, it's because I don't understand it.

message 12: by aldenoneil (last edited Jun 02, 2011 08:33AM) (new)

aldenoneil | 1000 comments Tamahome wrote: "But often if I'm bored by something, it's because I don't understand it."

See "Council of Elrond" circa 5th grade.

message 13: by Dan (new)

Dan (Daniel-san) | 101 comments Thanks for posting the techniques. I'm going to try to speed up my reading too. Getting rid of that "inner voice" of mine will be really difficult for me though.

message 14: by Anne (new)

Anne Schüßler (anneschuessler) | 662 comments Jenny wrote: "Chances are that dialogue sections are more important to a story than long descriptions. Try to train yourself to decide in the first sentence if that paragraph is really going to be that interest..."

I do that, but mostly because I can't deal with long descriptions. I'm not a visual person with books (we had that dicussion somwhere else), so when someone takes a half page to describe a landscape or whatever else you can spend these many words to describe, this does next nothing for me.

I don't know how exactly how I do it, but I guess I kind of see that 90% of the next paragraph is adjectives and my mind goes "Yeah, you know, whatev. It's a castle, I get it. Get on with the story already."

Not sure if this qualifies as speed reading though. It's more lazy and/or impatient reading. Sometimes I am a little bit ashamed because I can only assume that the author spent quite some thought and work on these words, but I just can't bring myself to really care.

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