“I should read more books” is something we all have thought about.
Everyone kind of knows that reading is important, but not everyone reads, nonetheless.
Reading good books on a daily basis keeps your brain in good shape, improves your focus, your memory, and your creativity, it makes you a better thinker, and can actually change your life, among many other benefits.
Now, if you already read books on a daily basis, or if you’re just getting started, you’ve probably thought at least once about how you can read faster, and therefore read more books.
That’s why today I’m going to show you the only 3 strategies you need. You probably know that there’s a bunch of books, videos, etc. about speed reading, but really, you don’t need any fancy technique or trick that (they promise) will allow you to become a “speed-reader”.
So let’s dive into it right away.
1. Don’t Read Every Single Word
Except for when we were kids and we were learning how to read, pronouncing every single word of a sentence is not something you want to do, because it slows you down a lot.
For example, a child would read the previous sentence like this: “Except. For. When. We. Were. Kids.” And so on. Painfully slow, isn’t it?
The problem is that most “untrained” readers still carry this bad habit with them, even though they’re not kids trying to learn how to read anymore. They might not read aloud, but they still pronounce every word in their heads as they read. That’s called “sub-vocalization”, and it’s something everyone tends to do.
If you try, however, you will realise that you can actually read the same sentence much faster and without sub-vocalizing too much, like this: “Except for when. We were kids and we were. Learning how to read. Etc.” Much faster, right?
But why the pauses? That’s because our eyes are sort of blind when they’re moving, and see only when they stop. So, even though it might seem like our eyes are constantly moving when reading, they actually fixate every few words to take a quick “photo” of what’s written.
Untrained readers are used to taking photos of only one word at a time. But with some practice, everyone can take bigger photos of 3, 4, 5 words.
For the rest of this post, I want you to try taking in more than one word at a time, and I want you to do it without “speaking” too much. You can’t get rid of sub-vocalization completely, but you can definitely reduce it.
2. Use A Pointer
Another bad habit of many readers is regression, the act of going back to read words and sentences they have already read.
Usually, people do it automatically, without realizing they’re regressing. This habit generally means that one is insecure about their comprehension of a previous word or sentence, but this behavior doesn’t really help much. In fact, it’s often the opposite. By going back every few seconds, you break your rhythm continuously, and these constant distractions reduce your focus and your comprehension of the text.
To avoid unnecessary regressions, the solution is to use a pointer, such as a pen, a pencil, or even a finger.
Place your pointer under the sentence you’re reading, and move it across the line. Force yourself to keep up with it, and don’t go back to words you’ve already read.
At first, do it at a comfortable speed (you don’t want to sacrifice your comprehension!). Then, little by little, increase the speed. With practice, your eyes and your brain will get used to it, and your reading speed will gradually increase.
3. Read. Read. Read.
The most important thing you can do in order to get better at reading is… reading.
Because reading is a skill, and skills have to be practiced. There’s no way around it.
The more you read, the better you will get at it. You will increase your vocabulary, understand more of what you read, get better at focusing, etc. These are all things that increase your comprehension and your speed.
I can already hear people say, “I would love to read, read, read. But I don’t have the time!”. Whenever I hear these words, my first answer is always “It’s not that you don’t have time. It’s just that you don’t use it the right way.”
So here are just a few ways you can use your time better and read more:
- Set aside a specific time dedicated to reading. The best way to read more is to turn reading into a habit by doing it every day at the same time.
- Always carry a book or e-reader with you. Waiting at the bus stop, in line at the post office, at the dentist’s, etc. are all great opportunities to read, but most people waste time on their smartphones instead.
- Replace less important activities with reading. Spend less time on social media, TV, games, videos of people eating food, etc., and you will magically have time to read books.
Speed Isn’t THAT Important
Reading a little faster than average is certainly beneficial—that’s why I highly recommend that you follow the first two tips—but still, reading consistently is much more important than reading fast.
Reading faster does not equal to reading better, so don’t worry too much about your reading speed, and don’t give too much importance to speed-reading. Comprehension is more important, and higher reading speeds don’t necessarily guarantee that.
The 3 strategies you’ve learned today are essentially the only things you need to do to become a better reader. After a few weeks of practice, you will see that you have gradually increased both your comprehension and your speed.
[BONUS] FREE GUIDE: CHANGE YOUR HABITS, CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Reading is only one of the best habits that, repeated on a daily basis, can have an incredible life-changing power. If you want to really improve your life, you need to develop other good habits as well. Fill the form below and get the free guide!