How To Train Yourself To Become A Faster Reader

by Julia Seales

Is there a secret to becoming a fast reader? As a fast reader, I'm here to help. I can easily get through a book (or three) in a night. In grade school, book circles were agony, because I would finish the book, then either 1) accidentally spoil the end for everyone else or 2) sit in silence during discussion, so I wouldn't let something slip. I can remember one book circle in high school where I read all of the books for every circle, because I was finished early and needed something to do.

One of my BFFs gives me a hard time about how fast I read — maybe because I give her a hard time when she won't finish a book (she hates endings). She calls it "Julia reading," as in, "Are you actually reading the book? Or are you Julia reading?"

I've just been reading a lot of books for a long time, and I like to finish them. As a kid, I can remember going to the library and checking out a huge stack of books, and there was something so satisfying about reading every single one. I just really love completing a book, though if it's a great one, I'll always wish it were longer (despite the fact that the characters always stay with me even after I close the cover).

Maybe right now you're thinking, "No! I don't want to read faster — I want to savor every word of the book! WORDS ARE BEAUTIFUL." Of course, I have to agree. However, what about those times when you HAVE to read something for school, or work, etc. etc.? Wouldn't it be handy to be able to crank up your reading speed, so you can have more time for pleasure reading? Here's how you can do it.

Read Constantly

The easiest way to train yourself to read faster is to read a lot. After all, you can't learn to sprint without practicing. The reason I learned to read so fast so young is because there were so many books I wanted to read. I simple adapted to make it possible. Set aside time every day to read — even if it's just for ten minutes — and you'll already be on your way.

Learn To Skim

Some people hate the idea of skimming, but it can be very helpful for reading passages where you just need to know the general idea. Skimming means that you take in only necessary words, but in order to do it, you have to know how to look for the important information. The beginnings and endings of passages and paragraphs are usually key, as they contain topic sentences and summaries.

Don't Re-read Passages

Have you ever started reading a book, and suddenly realized that in the past eleven minutes you've been staring at the same paragraph over and over without really comprehending it? To read faster, force yourself to move on from these paragraphs. You can even use an index card while reading to cover words you've already read. Sometimes, it may seem that you don't understand the paragraph, but your brain comprehends more than you know. And other times, if you really get stuck, it's best to just keep moving. You may understand what's going on once you progress further into the story.

Use Secondary Sources To Help With Comprehension

So you just read a classic quickly, but you're not sure you understood everything. Don't worry! It's okay to use secondary sources (for example, Spark Notes) to help you comprehend the text. I particularly like the "important quotes explained" section of Spark Notes, because it allows you to get a closer read of the passage. Another great thing for comprehension? Discussion. AKA, make your friends have endless conversations about books with you.

Set Goals

Give yourself goals every day. Want to read fifty pages in a night? Work hard to meet that goal. If you know you have to meet a goal, it will give you the motivation to push yourself to read even faster.

Find Your Perfect Reading Nook

Do you prefer reading while sitting in a comfortable chair? Maybe you like having music playing, or maybe you prefer complete silence. Find the balance that you like, and when you sit down to speed read, make sure the outside conditions set you up for success.

Fall Into The World Of The Book

This is the best way I can describe how I read: I fall into the world of the book. I don't mouth the words or read out loud, because in my mind, I'm immersed in the world the author has set up. And actually, this can help you read faster. Mouthing the words as you read can slow you down, though it can be helpful if you need to get through a difficult passage. But if you're trying to read quickly, minimize the distractions, and let yourself fall into the world of the book.

Listen To Books On Tape — On Double Speed

This is a random way to read fast: force someone else to do it for you. Try listening to audiobooks on double, or even 2.5, speed. It may sound kind of funny to hear the readers speaking so quickly, but you will soon get used to it, and you can significantly cut down your reading time. Plus, you can multitask while listening!

Try Using An App

There are apps out there for people who want to learn to speed read, such as Spritz. If you want to learn to read faster, try out one of these apps to train your brain, so you can get started on your TBR pile.

Images: Nickelodeon (1); Giphy (9)