on 28 May 2010
Where does all the time go?
Recently, as I have been compulsively working through my 'reading' pile, I've been watching from the corner of my eye, the 'to do' pile of books. Where in the past it's been a moderate selection, it's now become something of a collection.
Am I reading too many books? Am I 'busying' myself out of reading time? My mind is wandering and I'm losing motivation to read.
The ocassional daydream will segue into the idea of time management -- I would certainly welcome more organisation. But even when I find the time for more reading, I don't get any further -- or improve retention for that matter.
Then I summised... If I could improve my concentration maybe I would not only read quicker, but read and retain more too.
"Concentration is the art of being focused, the ability to pay attention"
The author of 10 Days to Faster Reading, Abby Marks Beale, has good reason to write a book on faster reading. She qualifies herself for this topic with her creation, 'Rev It Up Reading,'* a successful program that gets people up to speed with their reading. But she has also founded a company* that helps busy professionals work faster, smarter "and just plain better." All this talk of speed makes me wonder if she's a fast car fanatic.
"Practice is an important aspect of improving your reading speed," Abby says in the introduction. I, however, have been practicing for nearly two decades for heavens sake. When is practice time over? I read the way I was taught in school. As far as I can tell it's the same approach as everyone else...
This, it turns out, is the problem.
In school we are taught to read every word. This is because we are still learning the meaning of words and the context in which they are used. It's critical to read word by word for comprehension.
By the time we've left school, however, we have a good foundation of the language we learnt in school, and understand context through experience. It's not necessary for adults to read every single word but this is what many of us are doing. To make matters worse, so many adults have retained the school taught habit of 'saying' the words mentally when reading.
Abby explains, "In oral reading, you were forced to read word by word. This habit probably carried over into your silent reading. If you are reading a word at a time silently, you read no faster than you speak - 150 words per minute."
The voice in our mind is a direct representation of our physical voice, and with that, the same pitch, speed, tempo etc. Having a voice in your head is positively normal, but it's this habit that is slowing down the speed of reading. And by a big margin too.
This, of course, presents a problem.
So how do we get around this dilemma?
10 Days to Faster Reading is a book that wants to get you involved, and this involvement intends to lead you towards the development of habits.
Having '10 Days' in the title isn't just a weak marketing ploy -- an ambitious ruse to get readers hopes up. You are, as I have been, taken through 10 days (chapters) of learning and testing.
Each day begins with an easy to understand introduction to the learning of that particular day - using racing car analogies. (I knew it!)
On the outside it may seem incompatible but it works; incredibly well actually.
"Pileups are possible during any car race. [The conditions on the track make for slippery driving, or there are just too many cars grouped together. These reasons are similar to why you might have a reading pileup]."
We then have a brief moment for tips and tricks on improving your reading. Of the many approaches my favourite is 'pre-viewing'. With little more than a glance through your prospective reading, you get a feel, and direction, for the material. As we read properly from the start we are subconciously led with a sense of direction. Thwarting that 'lost in a trance' feeling that, I for one, am partial to.
"10 Days to Faster Reading is a book that wants to get you involved, and this involvement intends to lead you towards the development of habits."
To cap off every day, there is a time trial. This is where you measure your growth each and every day.
"Okay," begins the first time trial, "let's hit the road. First you need to find out how you read with regard to speed and comprehension."
Everyday, the time trial tests you on speed and comprehension. Speed is determined by a short article of about a page in length. The time you take is calculated by the number of words and hey presto, you have your 'words per minute' result - a little more on this in a bit.
Another measurement of your performance, 'comprehension,' is found through 10 'true, false or not discussed' statements; the more you get correct, the better.
But what are the benefits of these results you may ask?
All of this information has a special place in the 'Personal Progress' section at the back of the book. It serves as a log for your development over 10 days. The currency here is wpm (words per minutes) and naturally you want this to be increasing over time.
I won't go into all the details of my results but I will give you the overall picture:
* 220 wpm
* 70% comprehension
* 460 wpm
* 80% comprehension
While it's not an earth shattering improvement, after only 10 days I was quite startled.
This speed reading book crams a feature-full system that gives you parental guidance from day 1. But further, it is essentially your journal while you partake in the course, allowing you to jot down your results in a well thought out system. Most readers will appreciate how such a small package can leave you with a clear-cut idea of your reading abilities, and then go on to nurture that ability. But for those who have a more conventional slant, taking a pen or pencil to a freshly printed business book is seen as almost sacriligious. I know I whimpered when I penned in my first record. To this, however, I have a solution. Use a bloody pencil.
Other inconveniances could be the simple impracticality of writing in a small book. If you lead a busy life and read on the train as a filler, summoning a writing tool from your bag presents problems of its own.
But these quabbles are minor and far underweigh the results that can be achieved when you make a commitment to your speed reading abilities.
10 Days to Faster Reading does something that I'm not familiar with in most other business books. Abby Marks Beale has created a course in which you can benefit on various levels. Logically, you can read the book and glean information that you will put into practice immediately. Or, if you really want your money's worth, you can get a pen or pencil, ideally pencil, and work your way through facts and figures, nail biting time trials and thhe occasional laugh over 10 days. (Saving hundreds, if not, thousands on what a workshop would cost) All the while benchmarking every increment of change in your performance.
It's now time to hone my concentration levels with the ironing. 10 days, however, might be pushing it.
on 3 July 2012
First things first, this book does offer some useful techniques for speeding up reading, and I can see that being talked through it, in a structured way, is helpful. My own reading has become more effective using the techniques outlined in the book.
Unfortunately, it is also quite badly written. Leaving aside the (understandable) focus on the American market, it uses far more words than it needs to and I spent quite a lot of time thinking that the quickest way to absorb the information is to ignore about half the text. The techniques offered, and the means of testing them, are very valuable, but the poor analogies really don't help the process. It is ironic that a book about increasing your ability to absorb information should be so bad at presenting it...
on 26 July 2014
By far one of the best books I have ever bought.
I have never really liked reading and I know alot of people who would agree. Although I support that books are essential and the knowledge invaluable, bringing myself to read was a daunting task. With my current interest in so many areas, reading is what I need to improve upon.
It is not a school master book where you feel you are forced to do things a particular way that doesn't work for you. It is liberating in the sense; why reading in a particular style is ineffective, but also explains how your eyes and brain function as you read. When you understand that, you understand how to assimilate words more efficiently and effectively.
Additionally, this book is also slightly academic, which may not be so user friendly if you detest such a style, but overall RECOMMEND RECOMMEND RECOMMEND.