by Liv Montgomery
If you’re like most people, your casual reading time is meant to be relaxing and leisurely. So how could speed reading possibly enhance your fun time?
The answer is, the same way it can enhance your work time. First, you’ll be able to read more material. Second, you’ll be able to get more out of the material you read.
Still not sure? Stick with me here – you’re really going to like this.
Not so long ago, back in the Space Age, the average person could get away with reading at a leisurely pace. In spite of its futuristic name, life in the Space Age was a little slower then. Banks were only open weekdays between the hours of 10:00 and 3:00. Cars were gas guzzlers that ran on something called Ethyl, and music was played on little vinyl platters that spun around at 45 revolutions per minute.
Nowadays, in the Information Age, even Chevy makes a hybrid car, banking and stock trading happens around the world around the clock 24/7, and music is played back from little platters of data decoded at 44,100 cycles per second. You might say things have speeded up just a wee bit.
Avoiding the Information Crunch
Back in the Space Age, the average person could keep up with the news of the world and stay relevant simply by browsing a copy of Newsweek once every seven days. An ambitious person might pick up the local newspaper and glance at the headlines over coffee each morning.
But in the Information Age, RSS feeds pack your Internet browser with column upon column of news, finance and fashion trends. Friends and relatives give subtle rebukes if you’re not keeping up with them on the social networks.
Where the Harvard Classics, the famed “5-foot shelf of knowledge,” was once a sufficient substitute for a classical education in the humanities, these days it seems the average person is expected or even required to read more miles of prose, text and data in a year than most of our ancestors could have accessed in a lifetime. Let’s face it: great-grandma Jones just didn’t have text or email, let alone an online compendium of the world’s most incredible information.
Reading As Rapidly As A Rocket On Rails
Information is hot and it’s everywhere. If you want to get ahead, or even keep up, you’ve simply got to get a handle on the reams of information coming your way everyday. But how do you do that? The average person reads at a rate of only 200 words per minute – about the rate of speech. That’s hardly enough to get through the gossip column, let alone read the hard news and bone up on your business skills.
But what if I told you that you could increase your reading rate by a factor of 10 or more – and increase your comprehension in the process? Well, it’s true. You can. How do I know? Well, I’ve done just that, and the best part is… it wasn’t hard! Not at all. In fact, it was a breeze.
Before I learned how to speed read, my reading rate was 163 words per minute. That’s 18% slower than average. There’s no shame in that. It was just my way. Today I read at just over 3,000 words a minute – to be exact, 3,066 was my last timed test with 70% comprehension – and I’ve been clocked at more than 10,000 words a minute.
Opting For A Faster “Normal”
The single greatest objection to speed reading that I hear from people who don’t know how to do it is that they’re afraid they’ll stop enjoying a leisurely stroll through a good novel. This simply isn’t the case.
In fact, you’ll be able to enjoy more strolls through more good novels in less time. You see, once you learn to speed read, it doesn’t mean you feel rushed when you read. It simply means you have a new “normal”. The more skilled you are, the higher that un-rushed new normal is. For me, reading at 700 words a minute was once a big goal. Now it feels like a little like a casual stroll through the park.
When reading is no longer an obstacle, your world opens up in ways you haven’t even thought of yet. For one thing, you can learn to long jump that Harvard Classics 5-foot shelf of knowledge like an Olympic athlete.
Is it complicated to learn how to speed read? Not at all. Does it take practice? Absolutely! But just like any exercise program, you’ll find that once you get started, you’ll love it. And you’ll want to keep at it every day. You can be sure that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice in this day and age.
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