Speed reading

speed reading

Is your “to read” backlog longer than 100 books? Is there more books than you can read in one year? Mine too!

Solution? Pick top 20, and remove the rest?

That’s one way to go, but there is also another one: speed reading.

I decided to learn a little about speed reading in order to get to some books that I’m curious about, but…not enough to devote a month of reading for them. There are some books I just want to just know what’s in there.

Speed reading is also useful for articles. How many times your friends send you things that take 20 minutes to read, and then you are like “meh…I wish I spent this time by going for a walk”?

How many times you decided that you want to read something because you are very interested in particular topic? How many times you ended up in reading it, and concluding: “if I could go back in time I wouldn’t read it” or “content was not what I was expecting”? How many times you read something and you think: “Yeah, it’s good, but it can be summarized in 1 paragraph”?

Resources to get started

Here is a list of good resources I went through to get familiar with speed reading:

My approach

When I see something that interests me I do not read it from back to back anymore. I skim first, and if it’s good I read it more carefully, or do another, more comprehensive skim. If it’s a book, I read table of contents first.

Sometimes I also read summary at wikisummaries, fourminutebooks or blinkist.

Another heuristic that helps me to make a decision about reading books is to check GoodReads score. If it’s above 4 then it’s promising. Around 4.5 usually end up being very good, worth reading back to back.

For articles, I usually start with summary/conclusion. Many times that’s where I stop…

Summary

It’s all about skimming.

If you want to read fast: skim the words, read first sentence of every paragraph, or even just headers or book/article.

Faster reading = worse comprehension. The art of speed reading is to find the sweet spot of how much comprehension you are willing to sacrifice for speed of reading.