Thoughts on speed reading
On Monday afternoon, I participated in a Smart Reading course together with a few colleagues. Although the basic techniques of speed reading were explained, it left me wanting to know more. Since I don’t feel like paying more than a thousand Euros for a full, three-day course, I started to look for some more information on the topic.
If you want more or less the same information that we received in the course, have a look at this excellent overview of speed reading techniques.
For those of you who want to speed read through information on your computer display instead of in books, there is software available that uses the technique of Rapid Serial Visual Presentation to help you read faster. One of these applications is RapidReader. They have a nice video illustrating that reading faster doesn’t significantly hamper your comprehension:
Apparently there is a yearly contest called the World Championship Speed Reading Competition. The current record holder is Sean Adam with 3850 words per minute with comprehension. There were also some famous people in history that could speed read, including Jacques Bergier and USA presidents John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter. There are also some claims of a child prodigy that could read more than 400 000 words per minute, but that might be attributed to her photographic memory.
Although a lot of the claims around speed reading are unrealistic and it is surrounded by the typical vagueness of pseudoscience, the idea still intrigues me. I went to the book shop yesterday and found a few books (some exclusively in Dutch, others translated from English) that seem interesting to have a look at. I also included books on Mind mapping since this is the technique used to summarize the books you read. There is another book in English that seems to be recommended by a few people: Breakthrough Rapid Reading by Peter Kump.
The Dutch books I might have a look are:
- Gebruik je Hersens, Jan-Willem van den Brandhof
- Snellezen, Tony Buzan
- Mindmappen, Tony Buzan
- Gebruik je verstand, Tony Buzan