“What refuge is there for the victim who is oppressed with the feeling that there are a thousand new books he ought to read, while life is only long enough for him to attempt to read a hundred.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (Over the Teacups, 1891)
According to some experts, the average reading speed is 250 words a minute. I’ll bet you that it’s less than that. I’d guess 150. You can test your own reading speed very quickly. Pick up any book and read a page. Time yourself. Count the words. Do the math.
If you are not happy with your reading rate, you can take a course in speed-reading. The Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics program is the best-known. It was founded in 1959 and has helped more than 2 million people read faster, including presidents Nixon, Carter, and Kennedy. To help you attain really high speeds, the Wood program puts you through several months of behavior modification. The result is a change in the basic pattern of your reading.
If you are happy with doubling or possibly trebling your reading speed (up to 600 words a minute), practice the following five-step method:
1. Sit comfortably in a quiet spot. To read fast, you can’t have distractions.
2. Break the book in. Rest it on its spine, gently open the front and back covers, and press down on the pages — alternating between the front and the back of the book — until it lies flat anywhere you open it.
3. Use the right position. With the book flat down in front of you on a table, wrap your left forearm around the top of it so that your fingers rest at the top right corner of the right-hand page (if you’re right-handed).
4. Use your finger as though you were underlining the text, moving it from left to right across the page under the lines you are reading. Keep a fast, steady pace. Make sure your eyes stay up with your finger.
5. Don’t regress. If you move your hand at the right speed, you’ll force yourself to take in two or three words at a time rather than just one. At first, you will probably feel a temptation to slow down to make sure you’re not missing anything. Resist it. Your comprehension will be fine.
It’s hard to believe that you can read much faster simply by using these physical tricks. But, according to the experts, you can. I haven’t proven it to myself yet, but I’ve started using this technique – and it certainly seems to help. Give it a try and let me know if it works for you.
Start today by finding out your current reading speed.
[Ed. Note. Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]