Speed Reading Pitfalls - Link

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Neil Vogler
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Speed Reading Pitfalls - Link

Post by Neil Vogler » December 16th, 2009, 5:56 am

Hi all,

Found a link on the Guardian website discussing speed-reading. Can you speed-read literature? Why would you? And if you do fancy yourself a speed-reader, do you believe that you're potentially missing out on subtleties that writers spend half their lives agonising over? Does this concern you?

Nathan, I'd love to hear your take on this, being as you are a speed-reader out of necessity.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksbl ... literature

Cheers all

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shadow
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Re: Speed Reading Pitfalls - Link

Post by shadow » December 16th, 2009, 10:28 am

I only speed read through articles and stuff but not through leterature. It just doesn't work for me that way! I want to get the full gist of the novel. I am wondering if Nathan spped reads through requested manuscripts though.
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Phyllis
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Re: Speed Reading Pitfalls - Link

Post by Phyllis » December 16th, 2009, 12:54 pm

I followed the link and read the article.

I don't understand the whole discussion about reading speed. Everybody has their own speed at which they comfortably read and comprehend the content. I do understand the frustration when you have to read and process loads of information and would like to quicken up the process, but you can't speed up the reading part with the comprehension lagging behind. It just doesn't work. If you ever tried to read faster than you normally do, you know what I mean. After a page or two you realize your eyes have just been moving over the page, but no words arrived in your brain cells. It's frustrating and you'll go back to the speed that works for you.

Okay, there's skimming. If you skim a text, you'll probably get the gist of the text and make a quick decision, like, oh, this is interesting, I'm going to read this later. But you don't process the whole information, and you know it. We do that unconsciously everyday, for example, when we read about an issue we are familiar with. We skim to find out if there's new information, and if there is, we slow down to understand that new information completely. It's a useful skill, not for processing information, but for weeding out the stuff you don't need.

Speed reading only makes sense if you can retain the same level of reading comprehension. I don't understand why people would read literature faster than their brain allows, or why they would even try. But there's an underlying suspicion in the article that fast readers only skim the pages, and that is not true. Some readers are faster because of their comprehension skills. So if you want to speed up your reading, work on your comprehension, not on skimming. That means you must read a lot, and even slow it down and analyze what you've read. It'll help.

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Speed Reading Pitfalls - Link

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 16th, 2009, 1:25 pm

Neil Vogler wrote:Hi all,

Found a link on the Guardian website discussing speed-reading. Can you speed-read literature? Why would you? And if you do fancy yourself a speed-reader, do you believe that you're potentially missing out on subtleties that writers spend half their lives agonising over? Does this concern you?

Nathan, I'd love to hear your take on this, being as you are a speed-reader out of necessity.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksbl ... literature

Cheers all
I actually wouldn't characterize myself as a speed-reader - I read quickly, but I don't ever skim. I can't afford to skim, especially if I'm going to be offering editorial feedback. I can read about 100 pages in an hour if I'm really concentrating and am not distracted or taking notes, but anything faster than that and I don't think I'd retain the important elements in the book.

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Re: Speed Reading Pitfalls - Link

Post by JFBookman » December 16th, 2009, 4:23 pm

Another wrinkle on this are the software-based speed reading programs (these are for websites and downloadable documents like ebooks). I know bloggers who swear by these products. You load in your text and you can set the speed at which the device will display the text on your screen. This is a little like speeding up an audio recording, since we can take in a much higher rate of data than the typical rate at which people speak. Anyway, users claim they read--with complete comprehension--at least twice as fast as normal, enabling them to get through at least twice as much content in the same amount of time. Notice I never used the word "book"? This is a business exercise, nothing more.

There's a pace at which I read a book, particularly a novel or serious nonfiction, that allows small "spaces" in which what I've just read settles in, starts to be digested, or connects to previous ideas or actions in the text. Speed reading eliminates these little spaces. It's a pretty big price to pay in enjoyment just to save some time, at least for me.
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Re: Speed Reading Pitfalls - Link

Post by Kaitlyne » December 20th, 2009, 7:16 pm

You know, this makes a lot of sense to me. I was just thinking about it, and my reading speed varies greatly based on what I'm reading. If I'm reading a fluffy Dean Koontz book, I can read about a page a minute. My average is probably closer to half that. The thing is, when I was in college I was a lit major, and it took much longer to read through. When I started, it took me about ten minutes to get through a page, and it took the whole four years to bring my reading speed up to "normal" for me.

I might just be weird, but for me it was a comprehensibility issue. The classics are written in very different grammar and language than what is used today. I'm just guessing, but I'd think it would be harder to really speed read classics and retain understanding of what they said, just because the average person might not have the exposure to allow for quick comprehension. Heck, I couldn't do it and I had years of exposure. Granted, I'm just speculating aloud here. That would be an awesome study, though.

I do agree that it loses the language, and oftentimes that's what I read for. I've read and enjoyed quite a few books with less than stellar writing, but good writing is something to be savored, IMO. The Dickens example was interesting. Cool article, in any case. :)

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Re: Speed Reading Pitfalls - Link

Post by CharleeVale » January 2nd, 2010, 12:06 am

Phyllis wrote: I don't understand the whole discussion about reading speed. Everybody has their own speed at which they comfortably read and comprehend the content.
I agree. My average reading speed is about 1.5-2 pages a minute. (Not nearly as impressive as the guy with 15 in the article, but still decently fast) I generally don't have a problem with recall either...

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