How to Read Faster and Gain New Levels of Knowledge with Less Effort
Who wouldn’t want to read faster?
We read for countless reasons:
- Reading books to develop new skills, learn strategies, concepts, and other topics
- Reading articles and blogs for the latest news and information on a topic
- Reading fiction to immerse ourselves in our favorite stories
And no matter how fast or slow you read, chances are, there’s much you can do to become a more productive reader.
Imagine being able to read a new non-fiction or fiction book in half the time or being able to skim a textbook with far less effort while maintaining the same retention level? The value is immeasurable. And these are the kinds of things you can learn to do with a few tricks and a little hard work.
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
– Joseph Addison
First and foremost, reading faster is about identifying your reading habits.
How do you read? Where do you read? Do you take care of your mind or do you run it into the ground? If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’ll have a harder time focusing and retaining information (meditation is great for this).
I’d be remiss not to mention that before getting into the meat of the topic because the reality is, that’s just as important as anything else.
Having said that, here are a collection of tricks and strategies, placed in a logical order that will allow you to read faster while still retaining the same amount of information (because, otherwise, what’s the point?):
1. Figure out your reading speed
Before anything else, use a resource like Readingsoft.com to gauge how fast you currently read. Without gauging your current reading speed, it’s impossible to know how much you’ve improved.
But don’t just use it once. Readingsoft offers a quick way to measure your current reading speed, so come back here regularly every so often to see how your reading speed is improving so you can be sure you’re making progress and know what is and isn’t working for you.
2. Learn how to read without subvocalizing
Now that we have that out of the way, it’s time to jump straight into the hard stuff. This tip is probably the most important of all.
When we read we do something called “subvocalization”, which pretty much just refers to how we mentally pronounce words to ourselves as we’re reading, even if we’re not actually saying the words out loud.
The problem is, this takes more time than it would to simply read the word to ourselves. Hence why adjusting this behavior can have such a big impact on our reading speed.
This becomes ingrained as a habit early on, so it can take time to rewrite the behavior. Fortunately, there are things you can do to rewrite it.
Try reading a single word to yourself while intentionally holding back the need to subvocalize. You’ll begin to notice little movements in your mouth and throat as part of this subvocalization, but over time, they’ll become more subtle and you’ll be able to read without doing it.
This is easily the most difficult part, so don’t worry if it takes a little time. It will be well worth the effort. Just make a habit of practicing it a bit each time you read something and you’ll make progress quickly.
3. Follow with your index finger
This is another big tip, and it takes virtually no time or energy to implement (you just have to remember to do it).
As you read, follow along with your index finger. This is helpful for a few reasons, one of which is that by doing so you’re able to physically view and maintain your reading pace, picking your speed back up once you’ve noticed yourself slow down. That alone will improve your reading speed by a noticeable margin.
This trick also reduces backtracking and the potential for confusion when doing so, which can often throw us off when we’re right smack in the middle of reading something.
4. Train Your Eyes to Minimize Movement
This is another very simple trick based on a common reading habit.
When we read, our eyes jump all around in no particular orderly fashion. They jump forward, up, down, backward, back again, and all of these extra movements slow us down and even distract from the content of the book.
The next time you sit down to read, notice how your eyes move around. You’ll likely find it difficult at first to move in one single efficient line, scanning right then back to the left and right again. However, by practicing scanning left then right in a straight line and then back again, you can reduce your erratic eye movement and drastically improve your reading speed.
5. Use reading-speed improvement apps
In addition to the preceding tips, there are several great apps that are specifically designed to improve your reading speed:
- Accelerator: This is an iOS app that allows you to import text which you then use in a speed reading exercise.
- ReadMe!: This is a great app for those who prefer reading with a tablet or other eReader as it’s specifically designed to help make you faster at reading eBooks.
- Acceleread: This is more akin to a brain game activity-style app than the previous two as it includes dedicated games and exercises.
Each of the above apps is great at helping you improve your reading speed, and each has their own unique structure for teaching, it all just depends on how and what you read and how you’d like to practice improving your reading speed.
Reading, reading, and more reading
If you’re a human being (which I assume you are) then you’re probably interested in learning how to read faster. At least, if you care at all about upping your game, improving your craft, keeping up with current events, or exploring the reaches of our imagination.
Use the above tips, tricks, strategies, and resources to take your reading speed to a whole new level.
Feeling hungry for knowledge today? Check out our article on the wisdom of Mark Twain.