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Speed Reading
Old 06-10-2019, 11:49 AM   #1
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Speed Reading

Has anyone here been able to increase their reading speed?

Every year or so I look into this, wanting to be able to read books faster. I've measured my reading speed at around 320 WPM. I'm able to take in 400 WPM when I use a Kindle reader's Word Runner feature (not available on a hardware Kindle device).



I also find that it helps to increase the font size on my Kindle such that I can get all the words if I force myself to fixate at only two locations on each line (that is, 25% and 75%).

However, some argue that learning to read faster doesn't really work. For example,
Doubling your reading rate may be possible from a lower range (250 to 500 words per minute, for example), but it’s probably impossible to go beyond 500-600 words and still get full retention.
Have you had any luck with this?
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Old 06-10-2019, 11:55 AM   #2
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When I was in the military I had to take a speed reading course and I got to around 800 wpm with over 80% comprehension. It really wasn't that difficult, but I certainly didn't enjoy it. Most of my reading is done for pleasure and that kind of concentration isn't at all pleasurable.
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Old 06-10-2019, 11:56 AM   #3
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Old 06-10-2019, 11:41 PM   #4
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I did it when I was in high school. I did it out of necessity - not enough time, too much to study. It worked for me but over time, I regressed. I now enjoy reading slow (or at normal speed), often going back to re-read certain parts. But I still do fast reading on reading manuals, fine prints, ....
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Old 06-11-2019, 12:33 AM   #5
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They forced me to take speed reading in junior high and I hated it, so I have something to say. Despite hating it, when the speed reading class was over, I was by far the fastest speed reader in the class with near perfect comprehension scores.

That said, I never use it for normal reading because I feel like it results in overly superficial comprehension. Even though their "comprehension scores" said my comprehension was top notch, that was just for the stupid lightweight material used in speed reading class and not for anything deep or worth thinking about.

Often I like to stop and ponder what I am reading, and get a fuller, deeper understanding of it and to consider the implications of what I am reading, not simply the sentences in front of me.

Even when I am reading for pleasure, I like to read slowly and flesh out descriptive passages using my imagination to add more detail.

To me, if a book is worth reading, it is worth reading slowly and savoring each passage. A good book should give you plenty to think about as you read that goes beyond the superficial. An example is the Bible; even though I am not a religious person, I appreciate the Bible as literature and I think it is not the type of book that would easily lend itself to speed reading. In it there is food for thought that would be missed. OK, I suppose one could speed read through the "begats" early on, but not through the Song of Solomon, KWIM?

Speed reading is sort of like listening to a podcast with the speed turned up to several times faster than normal. Yeah, you can finish it sooner, and you'd sort of know what was said, but is that really what you want? Do you always do that with every podcast you listen to? Why not? The same goes for speed reading.

I think that for me, speed reading had no genuine value. YMMV It probably had some value to those selling all those speed reading class materials to the school, though.
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Old 06-11-2019, 04:03 AM   #6
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I don’t want to read faster. I like to savor what I’m reading. If it gets very exciting, my reading speed automatically increases, LOL!
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Old 06-11-2019, 05:24 AM   #7
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I have never actually tried to find out precisely how fast, but my experience suggests that I am a fairly rapid reader. On vacation in Maine, I usually read at least one book a day. I suppose the longest book I ever read in a single day was Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, about the building of a medieval cathedral in England. An internet search shows it to have 402,762 words. So, if did nothing but read for eight straight hours, that would be a sustained rate of 839 words per minute. However, it is unlikely that I read straight through - having to eat meals and such -- and it is probable that I spent more than eight hours reading, so it would be hard to claim such a precise number.

I'm not sure how I ever developed it, but I have found the ability to read fast a great help in school and on the job.
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Old 06-11-2019, 05:46 AM   #8
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It's got to where I seldom read any books anymore. The internet is enough reading for me. And with a book in hand, I am a binge reader--ignoring those around me.

I'm not what I'd call a speed reader, however I'm more of a selective reader. My wife says I've also got selective hearing--tuning out much of what she says. Maybe there's truth to that, but she talks enough for the both of us.
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Old 06-11-2019, 05:52 AM   #9
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Like some others here, I had to learn to do it for work and it was handy there. But it never became natural for me, it remained work, and I also only "got" the material on a superficial level. For some writing, that's all it deserves and all I wanted. I could also never use it for highly technical material (equations), or the old spotty "machine translations" from other languages.
I don't do it anymore.
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Old 06-11-2019, 08:59 AM   #10
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Looks like everyone agrees: One can learn to speed read, but it's less pleasant and comprehension suffers.

There's a Woody Allen joke: I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.

It does seem that some people are naturally able to read faster.
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Old 06-11-2019, 09:06 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Gumby View Post
I have never actually tried to find out precisely how fast, but my experience suggests that I am a fairly rapid reader. On vacation in Maine, I usually read at least one book a day. I suppose the longest book I ever read in a single day was Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, about the building of a medieval cathedral in England. An internet search shows it to have 402,762 words. So, if did nothing but read for eight straight hours, that would be a sustained rate of 839 words per minute. However, it is unlikely that I read straight through - having to eat meals and such -- and it is probable that I spent more than eight hours reading, so it would be hard to claim such a precise number.

I'm not sure how I ever developed it, but I have found the ability to read fast a great help in school and on the job.
You might be on to something with school being in the mix. I was always a fairly quick reader, but I got quite a bit faster in law school. Some of it was through necessity; too many cases to read and not enough time. Coupled with the long, fact intensive exams questions under a time crunch added to it. These days, I read a little slower and try to read stuff that is actually interesting.
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Old 06-11-2019, 09:08 AM   #12
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I have always been a fast reader and frequently read a book in a day. Like others I want to enjoy what I read.
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Old 06-11-2019, 09:17 AM   #13
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I had always been a fast reader (I got the point when the teacher would tell the class to read a chapter and put the book down. I would always have to read ahead, often completing the homework reading assignment in class.) I could also read an assigned book in one night, from when we were first assigned books to read.

My father signed me up for Evelyn Wood when I was about 12. I did learn to "speed read" but I did not like it. I liked taking my time (which basically was not all that slow.) I refused to speed read my novels. I did use it - at least partially, from time to time for school related materials through undergrad. The most use I got out of it was assigned reading in English, that I did not like. I did not use it for things like chemistry which (hanging my head) I had to think about and memorize. I don't remember using it in law school, in fact, in the first year, oh my goodness did it take me a long time to read through a case, between looking up words and trying to understand the history and holding.

I'm on sick leave, and if I pick up some "brain candy" you can bet I won't speed read it.
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Old 06-11-2019, 09:29 AM   #14
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Speed reading....brings me back to grade school and jr high. I remember that training! It helped so much in college and work life. I still am a fast reader, but tend to slow down when reading books for pleasure.
I remember the training not only focused on the eye movement, but tricks such as reading first and last paragraphs in each chapter, then reading only the first sentence in each paragraph, etc. for comprehension. Ugh.
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Old 06-11-2019, 03:00 PM   #15
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I am naturally a fast reader . I can knock out a book in a few hours . I never took a course it is just how I have always read .I knocked out one of Ken Follett's " Fall of the Giants " which is 1000 pages in 7 hours . It was while my SO was having heart surgery so maybe I read faster when stressed .
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Old 06-11-2019, 03:19 PM   #16
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I am naturally a fast reader . I can knock out a book in a few hours . I never took a course it is just how I have always read .I knocked out one of Ken Follett's " Fall of the Giants " which is 1000 pages in 7 hours . It was while my SO was having heart surgery so maybe I read faster when stressed .
That comes out to 635 words/minute.

You fast readers are so lucky.

I'm curious as to whether fast reading correlates well with good piano sight-reading.
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Old 06-11-2019, 03:24 PM   #17
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I'm curious as to whether fast reading correlates well with good piano sight-reading.
I don't think so. I was able to speed read quite well, but when I played the piano I struggled to keep up, and only with relatively simple scores.
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Old 06-11-2019, 05:29 PM   #18
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DW is a fast reader. She gets a death grip on a book and just concentrates away.

I'm a slow reader. My mind often wanders. Maybe it is because of the slow pace or maybe I am thinking deeper thoughts?
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Old 06-11-2019, 05:45 PM   #19
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That comes out to 635 words/minute.

You fast readers are so lucky.

I'm curious as to whether fast reading correlates well with good piano sight-reading.
You can discount my response - as my instrument was not the piano. I was playing during the time that I took the speed reading course, and did not notice a correlation.

The correlation with regard to site reading music came with time spent practicing. The more I practiced . . . it was as if I no longer had to think about the notes, i.e. did not have to "translate" the notes into finger movements. The fingers just flew . . .
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Old 06-12-2019, 12:17 PM   #20
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When I was in the military I had to take a speed reading course and I got to around 800 wpm with over 80% comprehension. It really wasn't that difficult, but I certainly didn't enjoy it. Most of my reading is done for pleasure and that kind of concentration isn't at all pleasurable.
Ditto I used it for business but dropped it for pleasure reading.
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