Thursday, April 30, 2015

Speed Reading

I have always been a very fast reader. From the time I started reading "chapter books," it was not uncommon for me to read a couple per day. When I was in elementary school, I received special permission to exceed the limit for what students could check out from the school library at a time. I have always (and do to this day) looked at the length of a book first, favoring longer books, knowing that the longer the book, the longer I could immerse myself in the characters' lives. The average 300 or so page novel is good for an evening's entertainment, no more. Something like Stephen King's Under the Dome (awesome book with a cop-out ending) will last a week if I ration. In fact, my predilection for really long books is one reason that I embraced the Kindle pretty early on. Holding very heavy books in bed at night became more and more difficult, especially since I often read until I fall asleep. That "whap!" is painful! The Kindle Paperwhite is a dream come true for bibliomaniacs bibilophiles like me!

I digress. My point here is to point out that without knowing it, I have spent my whole life speed reading (well, I didn't know it until I was a young teenager. That's when I saw an episode of 20/20 about speed reading wherein a man read a looong novel in the time it took someone to bake a pizza. Speed reading was explained in the segment.). When I read, my eyes don't move side to side over every single line of text. Instead, my eyes focus pretty much on the center of the page and take in the page as a whole. I'll let the infographic below explain. Very occasionally, I will realize that I missed something and have to flip back, but this only happens when I am reading a mystery and a very subtle clue was dropped. In  both my undergraduate Honors classes (humanities classes, essentially) and in graduate school, we would have hundreds of pages to read per night, and I could not have read everything without reading as I do. In fact, people who read every single word simply can't get through a reading intensive graduate program. It won't happen. Plus, when you're reading academic papers, not only is it not necessary (unless you're the peer reviewing for the peer reviewed journal), but it might just turn your brain to pudding.

Without further blather on my part, I give you "The Science of Speed Reading"

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