Friday, April 9, 2010

Speed reading, what is it, does it work???

By Lonnie Cruse

I'm a fairly fast reader, but no where near to a speed reader. I admire people who can read a book in a week. My jaw virtually swings in the breeze at the thought of reading a book in a day. Yet many readers can do that. So I'm curious.

Which are you, speed reader (a book read anywhere from a day to a week?) or slow reader (longer than a week, maybe a month sometimes?)

Whether speed or slow, do you avoid very thick books, fearing they will bog you down? I sometimes do because I'm not only slower, but I'm often impatient to get to the end. Looking at thick books can give me stomach pains and a thick book must be highly recommended to get me to turn the first page. Which might be the reason I haven't gotten into those VERY thick vampire books that are currently so popular. Thoughts? Anyone?

IF you can read a book quickly, do you retain it, or is your reading just for the enjoyment of the moment? I confess, even though I'm not a speed reader, I often have difficulty remembering "whodunit" several months after I've read a book, and I'm sometimes in danger of re-buying/re-reading a book IF I don't keep a list. How about you?

By speed reading are you able to savor the good passages? Or do they go by too fast? Do you ever have to go back and re-read a passage? I confess to that one too, having to go back. Inattention (in multiple areas) is one of my worst faults.

Are there certain books you read faster than others? If so, what are they and why? If I'm not really into a book, I'll "skim" pages to see where it goes and how it ends. That's the sum total of my speed reading.

How did you learn to speed read? Was it automatic or did someone teach you? If learned, HOW did you learn?

IF you could only have one fiction and one non-fiction book in your library, what would it be. (Little torture here, may give you nightmares, muhwhahahah!) Mine would be the Bible, non-fiction, and, whew, fiction, WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE by Shirley Jackson. Unless, maybe, I chose something thick like WAR AND PEACE or a famous certain vampire book in order to have more to read. Choices. Whew. Yours??? C'mon, don't be shy. Give!

Thanks for stopping by. You can stop defending your book cases with whatever weapons you had on hand now. I'm not going to come into your home, grab all of your books, and force you to choose which one to save. Or am I? Hmmmmm . . .


Loyd said...

I learned to read by reading comic books, not by phonics. So I began to "sight read," where I recognized words but did not necessarily know how to pronounce them. (A source of amusement to some friends later in life.)

In late high school, knowing I would go to college, I taught myself to speed read. I learned to read by phrases, rather than one word at a time.

Six years later, I took a speed reading class. This increased my speed considerably, from 450 words a minute to a peak of 1000. I did this by looking at a line of print in a paperback one time, in the middle, depending on peripheral vision to catch the rest.

Looking at myself now, over 25 years later, I find I have three reading speeds.

Slow - for when I am studying something, trying to learn as I read.

Fast - when I am pushing myself, aware of where my eyes are looking. Not as much remembered, but as much as I want usually.

Fun - read for pleasure, don't worry about speed or remembering. Find out later that I remember whole scenes that truly interest me.
The speed varies. I read the last Harry Potter book in 24 hours. Of course that was staying up all night, but I HAD to see what was going to happen.

I think everyone should adjust their speed for what they want out of the book. And like writing, no one does it like you do.

Loyd Jenkins

Dru said...

I'm a speed reader. It usually takes me 1-2 days to read a book and if I get on a reading roll, I can read a book a day.

The size of the book doesn't bother me much as long as it a book being read for pleasure. Textbooks, reference books, business books are a different story.

Because of the number of books I read within a week, I can remember what I read as long as keywords relevant to the story are mentioned.

If there's a good part in a book, I'll remember it and after I've read several books and if that passage is still in my head, I'll go back to the book and re-read that passage.

I read paperbacks quicker than hardcovers, unless that hardcover is an awesome book where I don't want to put it down until the end.

I learned to speed read because I only have a certain number of days before books needed to be returned and I couldn't simply return an unread book.

If I could only have one fiction and nonfiction book, it would be first, The Bible, and second "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Lee Harper.

signlady217 said...

Nonfiction: The Bible, of course, but second in line is my Roget's Thesaurus!

Fiction: Too hard to choose! But maybe "The Enchanted Barn" by Grace Livingston Hill.

I speed read, pretty much always have; I think I must have taught myself or something. And I have a pretty high comprehension/retention level. (My brother does, too.) Learned to read by "sight", not phonics (but have become familiar with the process as a teacher), and I can finish a 250-300 page book in about 3 hours. And I've have noticed that as I get older, I am reading slower. That really bugs me, since I keep adding so many great books to my TBR list and there just isn't enough time!

Ruth McCarty said...

I am a speed reader who learned how from my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Soucy. He started by flashing three numbers on a screen, then increased the amount of numbers, and we had to remember and write them down. So the class learned to read quickly and remember what we read. I owe him a great deal of thanks. I read "The Naked Face" by Sidney Shelton in three hours. I still remember how powerful the opening was.

Sandra Parshall said...

I read with embarrassing slowness, and that's all I'll say on the matter.

One fiction title? TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Nonfiction? Yikes. I couldn't begin to choose.

Anonymous said...

I'm a speed reader. I read a 400 or 500 page book in about 2 hours, and have on occasion read 3 books in an evening. I tend to read solidly for about 2 or 3 months, and then go back to writing for 6 - 8 months, then back to reading.

I have pretty much perfect retention on everything I've ever read, and I've read literally thousands of books.

I do re-read. For instance, with each new Wheel of Time book that comes out I start about a week and a half before the release date and reread the entire series, to make sure its fresh.

Non-fiction book - the Dictionary. I've read several editions cover to cover. I really, truly enjoy going "Oh, didn't know that word meant that!"

Fiction - Boy's Life, Robert McCammon.

kathy d. said...

It takes me about three days to read an average book. If I get one that's too exciting to put down, I stay up all night and read it in two days/two nights.

I just read at home in my bedroom. Occasionally, I'll take a book with me and read it if it's an easy read.

I do sometimes speedread through or skip if parts are boring or too violent. Or skim pages.

It varies. I read one book about "The Rape of Nanking," (fiction) by skipping half for being too brutal. The other half I read and learned a lot.

I read until late into the night and the next day I don't always remember the last pages of what I read, so I re-read them.

For non-fiction, I'd keep a dictionary or Howard Zinn's "Peoples History of the U.S." or my big atlas or one of the huge artbooks I own or "The Treasury of Jewish Folklore" (priceless humor). Very hard to choose.
For fiction, I'd keep "The Grapes of Wrath," or "Beloved" or "Middlesex." Or "The Poisonwood Bible." Maybe others, too.
Too hard to do this.

aflamm said...

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Check out their website at if you are interested in learning more.