S. - Doug Dorst, J.J. Abrams

 

I recently read that Theodore Roosevelt regularly read an entire book a day while he was busy.  While NOT busy, the man was said to read 3 - 4... ALONG WITH WHATEVER NEWSPAPER OR PERIODICAL THAT CAUGHT HIS EYE.

 

It's suffice to sat that I was jealous and shocked - well, more jealous than anything, mind you.  I have come close to burying us in a veritable tomb of books that I have bought but have not had the energy to speed through as I'd like.  I want to possess all of their knowledge NOW - I want all of that structure and writing knowledge to be trapped in my brain forever and make me the Akira of writing.  

 

I looked up the article that is attached to this post - and not only did it confirm the shocking claim that Roosevelt pushed while he was alive (2,000 books in a lifetime!) but it also did not leave my hanging high and dry, so to speak.  I actually read this article using this nifty tool - Spreeder.com - and I actually found that I was not fatigued after trying it a few times with a few other articles I copypasted.  

 

Before I read this article, I looked up speed reading for myself. What I found was that:

 

 

It is how Roosevelt claimed that he was able to read so much

 

  • It is most definitely the only way to eat a book in a day

 

and

 

It can be used wrongly and can be a big reason for why something that's been read is unmemorable at a later date.

 

Whoo.  Anyway, where I started on researching this is the relatively modest Subreddit for Speed Reading, where I came across Squirt, which has its downsides but can be useful if you're, say, reading something for school.  It's what's called a BookMarkLette and it scrolls the words on the webpage that it is used on at the top of the page.

 

I really did not find Squirt to be all that to my liking - I prefer Spreeder, but it might just be a point of personal tastes.  Anyway - this all helps a LOT with web pages (possibly e-books as well), but I have a very much PHYSICAL problem with all of my books.  So, what do you do when you can't plop what you're reading into a program to do all of the work for you?

 

I think the most important thing to consider is to know how much "skimming" and the like you can get away with.  When I'm reading S., this is the most important thing to take into consideration - what can you disregard and what must be paid close attention to?   This is a thorny issue when reading a book that is almost 2/3 of what Theodore might have referred to as "bosh", but you don't want to miss that 1/3 of important information.  It's also hard to read other people's hand writing.  (Ugh, that HANDWRITING has given me so many headaches since I bought it around Christmas!)

 

 

Secondly, I think that speed reading, when mixed with skimming, is crucial especially when reading nonfiction - it is in nonfiction that you are primarily dealing with facts, and you don't have to worry so much over missing something subtle and quick - I find that most nonfiction authors love to hammer a point in on multiple occasions, if they find it important enough to them in the first place.

 

The next (and last) consideration, to me, seems to be regarding methodology.  This is what I found most interesting about the article I'm sharing in this post - how to go about doing it for yourself.  This seems to me to be a skill that needs to be practiced - in some regard, I think that I HAVE been practicing it without really working on kicking up my speed.  I call it, "building a reading tolerance", and I can recall moments when I was a teenager when I really hit this very real wall when reading in a marathon.  Headache, mental fatigue - my brain resisted my attempts at shoving all of this reading into it to the point where I couldn't read another damn line - or any other word(s), for that matter, for at least an hour at a time.

 

At any rate, I can sum up the "methods" shared by Brett & Kate McKay as such:

 

 - Stop subvocalizing by counting (or, you know, focusing on breathing or drabble off the alphabet)

 

 - Stop backtracking by using your finger. (Push yourself to keep going, don't go back - I like to visualize this in terms of being a gamer: when you're playing Final Fight, you don't get to go backwards (to the left) once you've gone too far to the right!) - notably:  

 

"use your index finger as a pace car. Underline the text with your finger at a pace faster than you normally read. Only look at the text in front of your finger; once you pass it with your finger, you can’t go back."

 

 

 

 - Use your peripheral vision. Your brain can comprehend several words at a time. You don’t have to read every single word by itself. The key with speed reading is to start reading multiple words at a time instead of just one at a time.

 

So this is now a skill I will be seeking to better; if anyone has any tips or tricks for me, feel free to comment.  I encourage anyone else who's also a "hardcore" reader to look this stuff up for themselves - as long as you're not swindled into buying any software for this, what's there to lose by trying this out?