Summary of 10 Days to Reading Faster by The Princeton Language Institute and Abby Marks Beale

BookSummaryClub Blog Summary of 10 Days to Reading Faster by The Princeton Language Institute and Abby Marks Beale

If you are a book lover, you know the constant struggle of a never-ending pile of books waiting to be read. You never have quite enough time to actually get through them all. That is definitely not a surprise considering what busy lives we all lead. However, wouldn’t it be great if there were some ways to still manage to read the books we want to with the limited time that we do have?

The good news is, there are. With just a few new approaches you can be reading faster in just 10 days. All it takes is a bit of practice and never again will you have to worry about not having time to read a new book.

In this book summary readers will discover:

  • Don’t put pressure on yourself unnecessarily
  • Getting rid of bad reading habits
  • Three simple steps to becoming a faster reader

Key lesson one: Don’t put pressure on yourself unnecessarily

As that pile of unread books grow, so too does our guilt of not being to read them. After all, we did pay for the books and now they just end up laying there untouched. However, time is not the only issue. We actually have a few misconceptions about reading that actually puts more pressure on us than is needed. 

The first is that you have to read every single word to get the full meaning of a book or other written text that you read. This is, in fact, impossible. Think about the documents that land on your desk or email. It is most likely that you skim through them picking up the most important points of the document. You should actually apply this technique to all text that you consume. Build a habit that allows you to select and prioritize what is important. 

Secondly, you do not have to memorize every detail of the book. This does not help you learn from it. This is a misconception that remains with us after school where we felt as if memorizing a textbook would help us ace the test or exam. The truth is, stuff that you memorize is stored in your short-term memory and can only be recalled for a few days. If you want the information to be retrieved at a much later date, you have to create a system to do so. The most effective is to write down crucial information, highlight text or make notes. These can be kept for when you need to recall information easily and there is no pressure to memorise it. 

The last misconception that people have is that they should not be reading during working hours. Reading is important for you to further develop your skills for your job. Thus, it should be part of your job description if it is not already. Reading during working hours is thus definitely not a waste of time. No one should think that you are slacking off. In fact, you are doing the opposite and staying ahead. 

Key lesson two: Getting rid of bad reading habits

There are some common bad habits that people pick up whilst reading. The more we act on them, the more we reinforce them. However, being aware of these bad habits can help you get rid of them and make your reading more efficient. 

The first of these is passive daydreaming. Many of us are guilty of this. We allow our minds and thoughts to wander to everything besides what we are reading. This habit can be changed into active mind wandering. This occurs when you link what you are reading with your own experiences. This forms connections between what we are learning and what we have already experienced. In turn, it further reinforces the memory of it in our brains.

The next bad habit is called regression. This is when you end up rereading what you have read already. To break this habit try blocking what you have already read with a piece of paper or a business card. Lastly, people whisper what they read or mouth the words – this is called subvocalizing. Under normal circumstances, the brain can read up to 400 words a minute. However, talking speed reduces this number to 150 words a minute. Thereby, if you just stop subvocalizing, you will be able to read twice as much more. 

Bringing awareness to these bad habits is the first step you can take in breaking them. It does not happen immediately but with a little practice, you will already be reading faster.

Key lesson three: Three simple steps to becoming a faster reader

There are three steps to follow to be a faster reader. The first is to have a clear purpose for your reading. If you know exactly why you are reading something and why you need the information, it will help with your concentration. You also will know what to focus on and what to skip over. 

The second step is regarding nonfiction material. You should aim to preview the material before you start reading to establish which parts are important and interesting. Previewing entails reading a few paragraphs of the introduction then move on to the titles and subtitles before reading the first sentence of each paragraph to get the gist of what each section is about. In this manner, you will have a brief overview of the content and already know which bits stand out to you. In fact, previewing in this manner can actually give you approximately 40 per cent of the book’s information without reading it in its entirety. 

The last step is to learn speed-reading techniques. Most of the time, we don’t learn about these in school but these strategies can be extremely helpful in boosting your reading skills. These include only reading keywords, indenting and using a pointer. 

The first method of just reading keywords is exactly what it says. You focus on the important words and skip the rest. Usually, keywords are longer than three letters. If you just read keywords, longer, three letters you get the meaning of the sentence without reading the other words. If keywords don’t work for you, you can try utilising thought groups instead. In this way, you comprehend phrases instead of words. In order to do this, you need to utilise your peripheral vision which might leave your eyes a bit strained at first. But as with anything, the more you practice the easier it will get.

The other method is all about overcoming subvocalizing. You can choose to focus on the white space between each line in order to remove focus from individual words. In this manner, you can flow through the words without getting stuck on any one in particular. The other technique is known as indenting and once again involves the use of your peripheral vision. This method entails starting reading half an inch within the left margin and ending half an inch before the right margin. It is still possible to see the beginning and end of the line using your peripheral vision. This reduces the number of starts and stops when you are reading. This alone has the ability to increase your reading speed by ten per cent. This may feel very unnatural at first but you just have to keep at it. You can even draw vertical lines to mark the half-inch so that it keeps you in check. It will also take a while before you can get this method down as it goes against everything you have learned when in school. However, it will be worth the effort. 

The last technique is one that we used when we first learned to read but left behind soon after. It is the practice of using our fingers or a pen to point along as we read. Not only did this pace our reading but it also helped us understand words better. Continuing with this practice now that we are older has the potential to your eyes move faster through text. This occurs because eyes naturally follow the movement. You can either move your finger down each line along the margin as your read or choose to snake your finger along with the text. Both actions act as a guide for your eyes. You should also aim to cover what you have already read to avoid regression. You can actually use your hand to achieve this by making a fist to block what you have read and using your thumb to guide your reading. Most people might find this technique a little embarrassing because they might feel like a child learning to read but it will most definitely help you develop faster reading habits.

The key takeaway from 10 Days to Reading Faster is:

Being able to read faster would mean that you would be able to complete your long waiting reading list much quicker. This solves the problem of not having enough time to dedicate to reading. Thus if you read faster, you will be able to maximise your time. Luckily, there are techniques that you can adopt to get you reading faster in just ten days. At first, these methods might feel a bit strange as they go against what you learned when you first started reading. However, with adequate practice, you will be reading faster before you know it.

How can I implement the lessons learned in 10 Days to Reading Faster:

Try out each method and don’t feel disheartened if it takes a while to get used to them. Not only do your eyes have to adjust but so too does your brain. Persistence is key in your skill development but you must also ensure to take regular breaks to avoid any strain. Aim to read in 20-minute blocks and have five-minute break in between. Don’t push yourself but instead steadily build your new superpower!

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