I always had a sense of dread when I had assignments that required reading. Often times, reading my textbook was time-consuming because I had a hard time focusing and needed to read certain lines over and over again. Bill Gates doesn’t have a problem with reading because he had a gift: reading seven times faster than the average human does. He could retain massive amounts of information while getting through multiple books in a week. So why can’t we all train ourselves to acquire such an amazing skill? It’s very possible, yet seems a little too good to be true.
The one thing that slows us down when reading is “subvocalization”. To make this simple, you know how reading out loud is noticeably slower than reading silently? Subvocalization is similar to reading out loud, but it’s inside your head. We subvocalize through “hearing” a voice that’s narrating while reading along the text. This is what slows down your reading speed. However, even if we were able to read faster than our normal speed, our ability to retain information after reading would worsen. Considering these challenges, an effective method would need to be used.
One method that worked for me is to draw two lines from top to bottom on each side of the book’s page (placement should be about two inches from the margins). When reading, don’t let your eyes pass over the lines, instead use your peripheral vision to read the words. Try to think about read from top to bottom instead of from left to right. Keep practicing this method and time yourself if you want to keep track of your improvement. Eventually, you won’t need to draw lines and will increase your speed.
I’ve tried speed-reading for about 2 years and so far, and I can say that it’s mind-blowing in some ways. I’ve gotten through many books I had wanted to read through quickly, can read long text messages quickly, and did much better at finishing reading assignments. Unfortunately, there are times when you can’t easily use speed-reading. Textbooks, for example, are harder for speed-reading because they have lots of information to retain and use high vocabulary. However, books that are read for leisure are easier to speed-read. I personally would advise you to read at your own pace. However, if you think you can adapt to high speeds, intense concentration, and days of practice, go for it.