December 17, 2009


Not me, bub. I'm about as slow as they come. Today's reading question is:

What do you think of speed-reading? Is it a good way to get through a lot of books, or does the speed-reader miss depth and nuance? Do you speed-read? Is some material better suited to speed-reading than others?

I took a "study skills" class in high school in which they had these doohickeys that would push a clear bar down the page at a steady rate and it was supposed to improve your speed. I found it to be a bunch of hoo ha. I did learn in the class how to skim, scan and generally improve my efficiency at reading academic text. But as for just plain old reading, I plod along at a reasonable rate. Others may have been able to improve their own rate, but I doubt by much. I don't know anyone that has ever done it.

I would very much like to say that people that read faster than I do miss something. Sometimes that's true, but not always. I know many people that read twice as fast as I do and still get just as much, if not more, out of it. In fact, I'm not sure it's so much speed reading as just having better focus. I have ADD and while I've always been a reader, I always have more than one book going and am always stopping and coming back to them. Some books I read straight through, others end up in the mix and take weeks or months. The people I know that read faster, for the most part, just do it. They sit on their butts and read and keep reading and aren't distracted from it until they're done or come to a stopping place.

I'm not sure it matters unless your job is to read a ton of material and I assume you wouldn't take such a job if you didn't have reasonable focus and speed. Even at my plodder's rate, I ended up with a Lit. degree and a master's degree and am working on another graduate degree and have polished off quite a few books over the years. So in the end, I guess can't see that it makes much difference.

(image via NASA)


Victoria said...

Michael says I read fast, but I don't think I do. I often go back to review a paragraph that confused me. I don't retain information all that well. I remember the material better if I explain it to someone soon after reading it. I hear people say they are speed readers, but finishing the book fast isn't the goal to me. The whole point is the content, so don't feel rushed.

Michael Taylor said...

Slow reader. My wife and three of my kids read faster than I do. and the forth is gaining on me fast. I'd like to beleive that since I read slower that I comprehend better, but I don't think I could back that up in a double blind test. I've had detailed discussions with Victoria about books that I've read in a week and that she's read in a day and she has a much better grasp of the details.

Teacherninja said...

You guys sound just like A.&I. She's much faster but I'd say we retain an equal amount. In college I noticed that some people were much faster than others (including pokey me) at essay tests. I asked the prof. and he said speed doesn't seem to be a determining factor in quality, so I guess it's the same for reading.

Beth said...

I read OK fast so I don't usually pay attention. I read a book on speed reading when I was a kid, and if I concentrate I use their techniques (basically reading bigger chunks of text). It doesn't mess with my comprehension, but it's harder to get the immersion pleasure that I associate with leisure reading.

Jim said...

Concentrating on techniques is not something a ninja has to do. Thanks, Beth!