On Speed Reading

Have you ever known someone who was always speed reading through something? Books. Newspaper. Online articles. Anything. I’m not sure if I have, but WordPress always helps me see the light.

There are speed reading apps. There are people who read at ridiculous paces. I just don’t know what the big rush is. It kind of reminds of the rush to publish that so many writers have in mind. I mean, I guess I could understand it if everyone doing it were in grad school conducting research. But they’re not. They’re just reading for fun.

I imagine that some of you are thinking that “There’s not even time for me to read all the books I want to read.” I don’t see that as a valid argument because the same person who says that rereads the same books every year. What a joke.

What do you think of speed reading?

On this day in 2014 I published Can you Name a Single Favorite Author?

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65 thoughts on “On Speed Reading

  1. I speed read for class sometimes (I’m in college), and sometimes I do it because a book REALLY sucks and is annoying and I want to move onto better things. But in general I try to take my time.

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  2. Why would anyone reread books when there’s so much more out there that needs reading too?

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  3. I’m not a speed-reader and don’t have the skill, even if I wanted to. It works for some people and I can see how it makes sense in certain situations. However – I’m going to rant here a bit – I’m not a fan of someone who speed-reads (skims) a book and then complains that it was confusing. That really annoys me. Thanks for letting me vent.

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  4. I’m a speed-reader, but it’s not a conscious thing; it’s just kind of an inherent trait we all have in my family. Actually, though, it can be quite annoying. I have to force myself to slow down, or reread some passages at times because I read it so fast I couldn’t process it. It’s great for short-term stuff, but to remember longer, I really have to work harder at it, and slow down, and break down the paragraphs and words. It’s also annoying for reading aloud, because I end up reading so fast my mouth can’t keep up and I stutter.

    Everyone talks about speed-reading like it’s a desirable skill, but to me it can sometimes be like a perpetual speeding driver. You might get to your destination faster, but you miss out on all the details and side stuff along the way. It’s the same for reading–I’ve reread the same book a dozen times, let’s say, and I’ll still get surprised at the setting, or the character’s hair color, or something else I passed over the first 10 or so times.

    That said, skimming and speed reading can be something I find very useful. If I need to know a quick fact for my story, or I’m trying to get a central idea in an article, or whatever, it’s usually really quick and easy to find and move on. I also find it useful for when I help with revisions or suggestions, or even editing, because I can usually find plot holes, or missing words, or whatever else a little quicker than others. Line-by-line editing can take awhile, but I’ve gotten used to and familiar with slowing down to work that way.

    In the end, it’s a give-and-take ability. I wouldn’t brag it’s actually any better being a speed-reader than a slower reader.

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    • Well, I’ve never really though of it as being particularly useful or desirable. So I guess we’re seeing different things because I’ve also never seen someone say that. Except for maybe the developers of apps. But they say anything.

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  5. You should want to read a good book slow. I mean if your favourite artist was having a show at an art gallery would you sprint through at top speed barely glancing at the paintings? Not likely.

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  6. I naturally read very quickly, I just always have. I can also speed read, which I find very useful for university, since I need to read hundreds of articles and books a year. I find that I’m able to get through them at a good pace, so I don’t need to stress so much. However, I don’t see the point of speed reading for speed’s sake- I’ve seen one blogger talk down on others because they don’t/can’t speed read through a Dickens novel in 3 hours. (Yep, literally he took 3 hours.) I think books deserve way more time than that! I don’t see how someone who reads that fast can truly process all the information and enjoy the book, since they’re so focused on reading quickly.
    I disagree with you on re-reading though- I have my favourites that I read every few years. I also have some books I’d like to read again because I feel like there’s more to learn from them =)

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    • Makes no sense at all to be doing that, and then also to think you’re somehow better because of it. Wait, that sounds like I’m talking at you. Ha. I’m talking about the person you mentioned. I’ve probably read a handful of books in under four hours, but that wasn’t because I made it a point to read quicker than normal, they were just short books. I’ve also spent more than 13 hours on a book before. And sure it was the longest book I’ve ever read, but I also wasn’t in some big hurry just to get it done. What’s the point?

      And I’ll never reread. I also see no point of that.

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  7. Yes. I too have a friend who reads at a very fast pace. He even writes that way. But the problem is reads, forgets very quickly. We can never rush to live our life of a month in a single day. We cannot enjoy the words if we read quickly and may understand the plot in another way.

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  8. I read a lot of technical books, so I skim – which is not so much speed reading as it is skipping the fluff and focusing on extracting what’s important – terms, definitions, major concepts and facts. I read fiction at a pretty fast clip, but I want to enjoy it.

    Have ever heard of PhotoReading? It’s like photocopying the page directly into your brain. Not everyone can do it, but if a person can, it’s amazing. Check out these videos:

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  9. I guess I’d call myself a speed reader, but it’s not on purpose. I read fast because I just can’t wait to see what happens next. I did actually speed read and skim in college and grad school for my dissertation and research, but in that instance, you learn to pick out key words and phrases in a page so you’re not plodding through in-depth articles and thick books for days on end.

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