Have you ever felt intimidated by someone publishing a list of books they have completed reading? A list probably made even more intimidating by the relatively short amount of time it took them to complete it. Trust me, I have been there. Such lists would leave you wondering how humanly possible it is to attain such. It’s either that, or you are wondering if you will ever be able to achieve a similar feet. They might even have you concluding they are unachievable, except you choose to not have a life outside of reading.
One of the easiest ways to read more books than you presently are is to increase your reading speed. That’s aside from adjusting your priorities and also your perception about reading. It’s a no-brainer, the faster you can finish one book the faster you can move on to another. Your ‘unimpressive’ list of completed book might just be due to your being a slow reader. An average skilled reader reads between 200-400 words per minute. If you fall short of this standard, your reading speed can rightly be considered as slow.
Being a slow reader is no cause to panic. Slow reading is not a curse. Reading speed can be improved upon with dedicated effort. Below are some practical steps to increase personal reading speed that I have tried and have worked for me;
The more you read, the better you get better and faster at it. It’s not rocket science. The more familiar you are with reading, the more second nature it becomes, the faster you can do it. Reading consistently increases your vocabulary, reading experience, and prior knowledge. All these three will in turn work to increase your reading speed.
Don’t Obsess Too Much About Your Reading Speed
Worrying too much about your slow reading speed while reading is actually counterproductive. It is an unhealthy reading habit. Rather than help you read faster, it will slow you down instead. Just like it is bad for speed, it is also bad for comprehension. An unencumbered mind in important for a faster and better reading experience. Whenever you do read, try as much as possible to clear your mind of any of such thoughts. Allow your mind focus on doing the actual reading.
Set Timers When You Read
This is a mental trick. What it does is to pace your mind by subconsciously creating a sense of urgency. It pushes your mind to attempt functioning at its optimal best, maximizing the time available for reading. Setting time limits for reading sessions dispels the comfort found in the perceived infiniteness of time. It replaces it with a mild reminder of the true infinitesimal nature of time clawing at our minds. It is so much like how deadlines push you beyond what you thought were your limits. Timing reading sessions also help to keep track of reading speed.
Reading can be likened to driving a car. Every stop births the need to gather speed from the scratch again, The fewer the stops, the higher the traveling speed, and the earlier you arrive your destination. It is the same with reading, the more distracted you are, the slower, tedious, and less enjoyable reading becomes. Having to gather speed over and again in a single reading session will have a negative effect on reading speed.
Set Reasonable And Achievable Reading Goals
The keywords here are “reasonable” and “achievable” goals. The aim of goal setting is not to set out to complete a Sisyphean task. Start out with easy goals, then as you clear those marks, make gradual increments.
Here are some tips that I have read/heard about but haven’t yet put to test;
Train the eye – Did you know before now that how our eyes move also significantly affects our reading speed? Not until recently did I realize this.
Enroll in speed reading classes. Errr…
Avoid Sub vocalization of text – This one has never actually being a challenge for me. However, I have heard it said a lot. It is probably the most mentioned tip when it comes to increasing reading speed.
Skim – This, I’m sure, was not intended to be a blanket advice. This one would be highly dependent on the nature of the material in question. With some materials, you can afford to skim. However, with certain materials, if you hope to gain, skimming is not an option.
N.B. As much as working to increase individual reading speed is commendable, comprehension and retention are of greater importance. Comprehension of material should never be left out of focus. Reading every material at the same speed is actually a bad reading habit. Some materials actually require slower reading speeds. Reading them at a faster speed would be inappropriate and ultimately impede comprehension.