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profen4
02-17-2013, 09:03 PM
I blogged about this today (http://stevewhibley.blogspot.ca/2013/02/if-you-cant-read-faster-than-cat-youre.html) but I thought I'd post the question here to have a bit of a dialogue in the topic: have any of you guys used speed reading techniques to get through novels faster? Do you find it counter productive to do so? Do you prefer, instead, to just take your time?

I wondered about this after a guy I know who works in the industry told me he often speed-reads manuscript submissions, and get's through novels in less than an hour. I wondered if he's missing anything.

I'm still pretty new to it (a couple years) and I'm not crazy fast; if I push myself I can just break 1000 wpm. Depending on what I'm reading, I can usually get all the major plot points and characters at that speed, but I do miss some of the intricacies and certainly miss out on some of the way the language is used.

Any speed-readers in the room? What are your experiences? Do you use the speed-reading skills for novels? I wonder if you can get good enough to burn through things and not miss anything. I would love it if that were the case. I have hundreds of books in my TBR pile and it grows by the hour.

Linda Adams
02-17-2013, 09:17 PM
I read very fast and can get through a non-fiction book in an hour. If that's a book I'm learning something from, I'll scan through it 3-4 more times.

Novels I'm a little slower with, but I still read them fast. My comprehension actually goes down if I read too slowly. I end up focusing on the words and lose track of the story.

Bufty
02-17-2013, 09:23 PM
Some folk naturally read faster than others. Doesn't mean they miss anything.

Some folk train themselves to read faster -speed read- and grasp salient points.

Like most folk, I can scan stuff rapidly and spot important points, but I can't see the point of deliberately choosing to try and rush through a novel that presumably I'm reading for enjoyment. I may speed up on sections that seem dry or a tad dull, but otherwise I want to relax, read at my normal reading speed, and enjoy savouring the language and setting and what's happening.

ebbrown
02-17-2013, 09:28 PM
I blogged about this today (http://stevewhibley.blogspot.ca/2013/02/if-you-cant-read-faster-than-cat-youre.html) but I thought I'd post the question here to have a bit of a dialogue in the topic: have any of you guys used speed reading techniques to get through novels faster? Do you find it counter productive to do so? Do you prefer, instead, to just take your time?

I wondered about this after a guy I know who works in the industry told me he often speed-reads manuscript submissions, and get's through novels in less than an hour. I wondered if he's missing anything.

I'm still pretty new to it (a couple years) and I'm not crazy fast; if I push myself I can just break 1000 wpm. Depending on what I'm reading, I can usually get all the major plot points and characters at that speed, but I do miss some of the intricacies and certainly miss out on some of the way the language is used.

Any speed-readers in the room? What are your experiences? Do you use the speed-reading skills for novels? I wonder if you can get good enough to burn through things and not miss anything. I would love it if that were the case. I have hundreds of books in my TBR pile and it grows by the hour.

I've always read very, very fast. Nonfiction I can skim through and still feel satisfied about it. Fiction takes me a bit longer, but even so, if I am thrilled by the story I will finish it in a day or two, tops. I just get excited and want to see what happens. Sometimes, if I loved the story, I will go back and re-read it at a more leisurely pace, and say, enjoy the scenery more, over 4-5 days. But as a rule, when I like something, I find myself putting off sleep if it will only take a few more hours to finish it.
:D

profen4
02-17-2013, 09:29 PM
I think the average person reads about as fast as they speak, since often we speak the words in our heads as we read. I don't feel rushed at about 600wpm, and actually, I don't even feel rushed a bit more than that, but when I'm discussing a novel with someone after the fact, sometimes I realize, hmmm, I missed that plot point, or bit of characterization. I'm hoping with more practice I'll get faster and miss no more than I would reading slowly.

mccardey
02-17-2013, 09:36 PM
I read fast: but honestly if I read non-fic or some lit-fic, I find I take notes - written notes - in order to slow myself down. There's no talent in reading fast - it just means your eye-to-brain scan works that way. But reading is about reflecting and understanding, I think ( I said I think). And I know I get much more out of reading at the pace the writer intended.

I suspect that's why I'm so fan-girl about Marilynne Robinson (http://www.amazon.com/Gilead-Novel-Marilynne-Robinson/dp/B004MKLRVK). She pulls you up in the first page and says "Not so fast. Settle down. We do this my way."

That said, in contemp and genre - good contemp, good genre and even good non-fic or lit-fic if that's what it wants - I like nothing more than a writer who grabs me by the shirt and says "We do this fast!"

There's no better. There's no worse. There's what works and what doesn't.

SomethingOrOther
02-17-2013, 09:56 PM
Do you find it counter productive to do so? Do you prefer, instead, to just take your time?

Yes.

I enjoy myself a lot, lot more when I'm reading slowly. That's somewhere around 150-200 wpm for me. When I'm feeling impatient I often have to slow myself down. :)

And to each their own, but your approach is misguided if you actually want to learn from these novels, OP.

Jamesaritchie
02-17-2013, 10:04 PM
I can speed read, but there isn't enough money in the world to make me speed read novels. I read novels for entertainment, and the last thing on earth I want to do is rush through a good novel. I also doubt you would learn anything at all about writing this way.

Seriously, speed reading a novel is like seeing how fast you can drink a two hundred dollar bottle of wine.

ebbrown
02-17-2013, 10:18 PM
I think the average person reads about as fast as they speak, since often we speak the words in our heads as we read. I don't feel rushed at about 600wpm, and actually, I don't even feel rushed a bit more than that, but when I'm discussing a novel with someone after the fact, sometimes I realize, hmmm, I missed that plot point, or bit of characterization. I'm hoping with more practice I'll get faster and miss no more than I would reading slowly.

Now I'm curious.
Going to time myself while reading tonight. Already know how fast I type, not how fast I read. Cool.

Vandal
02-17-2013, 10:19 PM
"I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It's about Russia." - Woody Allen

gothicangel
02-17-2013, 10:23 PM
When I was at university [English graduate] I would normally have to read about three books a week, and would speed-read just to know what I was talking about in seminars. But if I came to write an essay, I would have to read it again at my own pace.

In the end, I ended up hating reading because it became more of a 'process' than enjoyment. It took me ages to learn to love reading again.

Same goes now I'm doing a second degree [Ancient History and Archaeology.] I read through the stuff once, then do note-taking, otherwise I'm not learning anything.

Snowstorm
02-17-2013, 10:28 PM
I'm naturally a quick reader, but I want to enjoy a good book. The only time I skim/speed-read is when I'm bored with the book and want to find out whodunit or how the books ends (thankfully this is rare).

Conversely, the only book I forced myself to read slow was Carl Van Doren's Benjamin Franklin, a 600+-page tome. Passages were complex, but so beautifully written that I made myself slow down and concentrate so I could absorb everything he (and Ben) wrote.

profen4
02-17-2013, 11:15 PM
Now I'm curious.
Going to time myself while reading tonight. Already know how fast I type, not how fast I read. Cool.

There's a link to a reading speed test on my blog. It's from Staples. It's just for fun but might give you *some* idea.

Buffysquirrel
02-17-2013, 11:43 PM
I remember when I did a reading challenge on Goodreads and found myself reading books more quickly/more often than I really wanted to. It put me off reading for a while. So I don't think I'll be forcing myself in future. I read primarily for pleasure, after all.

Jamesaritchie
02-18-2013, 12:09 AM
I think the average person reads about as fast as they speak, since often we speak the words in our heads as we read. I don't feel rushed at about 600wpm, and actually, I don't even feel rushed a bit more than that, but when I'm discussing a novel with someone after the fact, sometimes I realize, hmmm, I missed that plot point, or bit of characterization. I'm hoping with more practice I'll get faster and miss no more than I would reading slowly.

Fiction should be read at the rate you speak. Or, more accurate, at the rate the characters speak. One thing you will always miss by reading too fast is pace. Another is character.

Fiction is first and foremost about enjoyment, not about trying to remember plot points and other details after the fact. This is the exact opposite of what fiction is all about. But it's almost impossible to get everything out of a novel with one slow read, let alone with a fast read.

Remembering such details so you can talk about them later means slowing down and enjoying yourself, and probably reading it two or three times, if you want to get everything in it. Fast is more of a job for Cliff's Notes. Rushing through a novel is not reading it.

ebbrown
02-18-2013, 12:14 AM
There's a link to a reading speed test on my blog. It's from Staples. It's just for fun but might give you *some* idea.

That was so much fun!! (Love the cat, btw!)

Haha, 410 wpm. The test said I could read War and Peace in 23hrs 52 min. <snort> Not likely, but still cool!

Papaya
02-18-2013, 02:33 AM
...if I am thrilled by the story I will finish it in a day or two, tops. I just get excited and want to see what happens. Sometimes, if I loved the story, I will go back and re-read it at a more leisurely pace, and say, enjoy the scenery more, over 4-5 days. But as a rule, when I like something, I find myself putting off sleep if it will only take a few more hours to finish it.
:D
That sounds like a very familiar pattern.

meowzbark
02-18-2013, 03:45 AM
I'm naturally a quick reader, but I want to enjoy a good book. The only time I skim/speed-read is when I'm bored with the book and want to find out whodunit or how the books ends (thankfully this is rare).

Conversely, the only book I forced myself to read slow was Carl Van Doren's Benjamin Franklin, a 600+-page tome. Passages were complex, but so beautifully written that I made myself slow down and concentrate so I could absorb everything he (and Ben) wrote.

This.

If the writing itself is beautiful, then I read it much slower than normal. If I find a scene boring or repetitive, then I'll skim read that scene. If a section is really boring, then I'll only read the dialogue...until it picks back up.

Now, if I'm impatient to find out what happens, I might skim read an entire book. But immediately after finishing, I will re-read at a very slow pace.

KellyAssauer
02-18-2013, 04:07 AM
: have any of you guys used speed reading techniques to get through novels faster?

No.



Do you find it counter productive to do so?


Yes.



Do you prefer, instead, to just take your time?


Yes. If the novel I'm reading does not make me slow down and appreciate the craft in each sentence.... then I will usually set it aside. But, if I find myself just sailing through a book, I may finish it, but I'll know that I not going to get much from it. I'm just passing time now... the book has lost it's importance.

cmi0616
02-18-2013, 06:19 AM
I am a notoriously slow reader. I can't speedread, and if I try I almost inevitably wind up missing some crucial part of the story.

Finis
02-18-2013, 06:59 AM
I naturally read at a pace that lets me get through an average 300 page novel in about 2ish hours. Is that speed reading? I've never learned any techniques or anything. I just happen to read that fast. I will sometimes find myself skimming if the passage doesn't hold my attention, or I'm thinking about something else. Usually when that happens I'll reread the last page or so I zoned through and everything is fine.

I've never felt like I've missed any enjoyment from reading.

jjdebenedictis
02-18-2013, 08:59 AM
I took this test (http://www.readingsoft.com/) and got 325 wpm, which is about what I figured it would be based on how long it takes me to plough through a book.

Some of y'all read really fast! I'm very impressed by some of the rates being reported here.

Kerosene
02-18-2013, 09:08 AM
The difference between reading fast/slow is just personal choice and how we perceive the writing.

I've taken a speedreading class in college and applied it pretty well. But, I read to figure out what was written, why, and how it works. Speed reading would destroy my understanding of it. And I've tried. I speed-read my textbooks, reports and such. But not fiction, that'll be worthless to me.

I actually make myself read fiction slower. Forcing myself to keep to the page and every page.


I also have to ask: Why are you wanting to get through a novel faster? If you can't wait to finish it, don't read it. If you want to read more books, learn patience--no one is going to think less of you if you don't have a library of book you've read.

BethS
02-18-2013, 06:42 PM
I took this test (http://www.readingsoft.com/) and got 325 wpm, which is about what I figured it would be based on how long it takes me to plough through a book.

Some of y'all read really fast! I'm very impressed by some of the rates being reported here.

On that test I read 606 words per minute, but that's because the reading sample was too boring to read at the normal pace. The only way I could get through it was to start skimming. So it's not really representative of how I read fiction, which is on the slower side.

I'd really like to try this with a fiction sample, preferably good fiction.

Myrealana
02-18-2013, 07:06 PM
I think the average person reads about as fast as they speak, since often we speak the words in our heads as we read.
I read SO much faster than I speak. My natual reading speed - without using any trained "speed reading" techniques is easily 5X faster than the speed I could speak the same words.

According to that reading test, I got 1101 WPM with 94% comprehension. I can't imagine being able to speak at that rate.

Mutive
02-18-2013, 07:21 PM
To me, a lot depends on the complexity of the novel, and what I'm hoping to get out of it.

If the goal is just to enjoy a story with a fairly simple plot and characters I enjoy, sure, I'll speed read. Why not? A lot of the time, I'm not missing that much, anyway, if it's fairly simple and repetitive.

Obviously, for a very complicated novel where every word matters, speed reading *is* detrimental. But let's not pretend that every novel out there is super complicated and non-repetitive.

(Also, sometimes I speed read through once, decide that the novel is more interesting than I initially gave it credit for, and re-read at a more normal pace.)

Zmoosh
02-19-2013, 12:22 AM
I wish I could speed read while retaining my same level of comprehension, because I have a mile-long list of books that I want to read. Believe me, I have tried to speed read, but it does not end well... Besides, I just don't have enough confidence in my comprehension to skim through books or passages. Perhaps it is just something that takes practice?

abbylearn
02-19-2013, 12:42 AM
After reading your posts, I am happy to know many of you are fast readers, without training! Most people do need some advice to get up to speed.

I am a speed reading expert who has taught herself how to read faster. What I see is that everyone has 5 "built-in" reading gears starting with 1 being slow up to 5 being fast.

Most people are stuck in gears one and two because they never learned how to read in gears three, four or five. Once you know how, then you have a CHOICE as to what gear(s) you want to read in. If you are doing research looking for appropriate materials for a project, you could easily read in gears four or five because you are skimming and scanning. If you are reading a lawyers contract (and you aren't a lawyer!), then you might read in gear one or two. If you are reading a book for pleasure, you can read in what ever gear you want!

If you currently read at 250 words per minute (the average reading rate of most untrained readers) AND you learn how to double or triple it, most people are very happy with this.

Unfortunately, there is a circus mentality around speed reading that looks for speed readers to read at inhuman speeds expecting good comprehension. Certainly there are some who can, but for most, a doubling or tripling is just fine.

So you all have choice, all the time, about what speed(s) you want to read. Enjoy!

stormie
02-19-2013, 01:06 AM
If it's a book that engrosses me, I take my time and enjoy the read. If it's boring or a light read, I skim.

My score was 347 wpm but you see I didn't have my second cup of coffee today, it's late afternoon here and my eyes are tired, I'm thinking of other things, and uh....

:)

profen4
02-19-2013, 01:53 AM
Unfortunately, there is a circus mentality around speed reading that looks for speed readers to read at inhuman speeds expecting good comprehension. Certainly there are some who can, but for most, a doubling or tripling is just fine.


*Raises fist over head* INHUMAN OR BUST!

Seriously, though, this girl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_ygu4qWlmw ..... Just... wow. fast and seems to catch it all. By fast I mean, 13,000 words a minute. Clip is pretty funny, too and actually makes me wish I was old enough to watch late-night TV when Johny Carson was still on the air.

Weirdmage
02-19-2013, 03:09 PM
I actually think speed-reading is bullshit. And I say that as someone who can easily read three times faster than I normally do. What I can't do however is process information three times faster. There is absolutely no way speed-reading will allow you to experience a novel fully.
What I want to ask people who believe in speed-reading is if they watch DVDs on 2x the speed and get the full enjoyment of the movie. If they don't they are telling me they aren't taking in the experience of a novel at the speed they are reading. If they really can experience things fully when they are speeded up, why limit it to reading?

Basically I have seen no evidence that speed-reading isn't just a way to brag about how many books you can read. And I see no reason for anyone who likes reading to learn speed-reading.
Why would you take the time to read a book that you feel you can skim parts of? I don't think anyone who loves reading for enjoyment would want to speed-read. And that makes me question the motives of speed-readers, are you just wanting to brag about how much you've read?
I do understand wanting to read faster though, I stopped writing a wish-list five years ago. It was getiing silly when it passed 3,000 books. But I still want to take the time to enjoy those books, and I don't see speed-reading as a solution. I'd rather enjoy the books I have time to read, and not rush through them. Frankly I'll skip the books I feel the need to rush through, and rather "slow-read" the books that entertain me

BethS
02-19-2013, 05:52 PM
I'd rather enjoy the books I have time to read, and not rush through them. Frankly I'll skip the books I feel the need to rush through, and rather "slow-read" the books that entertain me

Same here.

profen4
02-19-2013, 06:05 PM
There is absolutely no way speed-reading will allow you to experience a novel fully.

I think reading is different for everyone. And honestly, I'm not sure I know what you mean by "experience a novel fully" since I'm not sure one person's experience with a novel is better or worse, or more or less relevant (or complete) than anyone's experience with the same novel.

It's entertainment, and how you enjoy it is personal. For me, when I'm reading for enjoyment I rarely "plunge" into a book with the goal of losing myself and exploring what the author meant by this or that or what the motivations were for this decision or that one. I joined a book club to try to get into that kind of reading, but I struggled to enjoy the book when those questions circled my mind.

When I read to learn writing, I do question everything and really get into motivations and characterizations . . . etc etc. But I can turn that on and off.

Like I said, one of the biggest things "speed-reading" taught me was how to avoid eye-strain. Also, I was able to increase my speed while not reducing comprehension (At least up to a point - again, if I pushed myself I lost some comprehension, which was part of the reason for my original post - is there a tipping point, etc?).

At a minimum I finished novels in half the time it had previously taken me, and that made me very happy. I don't want to spend a week with a novel. I want to spend a couple hours with it.

Shadow_Ferret
02-19-2013, 06:29 PM
I knew I was a slow reader and its something that has always depressed me, but now, after taking that speed-reading test and learning how really slow I am... Wow. Why have I been wasting my time trying to be a writer? I'm an embarrassment. 181 words a minute? I'm barely above third graders. I'm a functional idiot. I think I'll just give up and learn the trombone.

profen4
02-19-2013, 06:32 PM
I knew I was a slow reader and its something that has always depressed me, but now, after taking that speed-reading test and learning how really slow I am... Wow. Why have I been wasting my time trying to be a writer? I'm an embarrassment. 181 words a minute? I'm barely above third graders. I'm a functional idiot. I think I'll just give up and learn the trombone.

LOL. Don't be depressed. I think there is a big difference between reading slow comfortably, and reading slow because you struggle. If you're the former, don't worry about it. And writing, well, if you can write at 181 words a min, egads, man. I'm dancing on table tops if I write 40 wpm knowing I'm going to have to rewrite it when I'm done.

Phaeal
02-19-2013, 10:17 PM
If I was reading novels for a living (agent or editor), I'd probably start out speed-reading the MS. If it made me slow down, I'd put it on the CONSIDER REPPING/PUBBING pile.

I read as slow or fast as the prose deserves. Pedestrian prose, I'll read quickly. Super prose, I'll crawl through, savoring each sentence and backtracking to enjoy the best passages again.

Really crappy prose? I'll get through that book in the minute or so it takes me to skim the first couple pages and put it back on the shelf.

Phaeal
02-19-2013, 10:24 PM
What I want to ask people who believe in speed-reading is if they watch DVDs on 2x the speed and get the full enjoyment of the movie.

I will poke through my favorite scenes in a movie frame by frame. Especially if Viggo Mortensen is in them.

:D

meowzbark
02-20-2013, 07:21 AM
I actually think speed-reading is bullshit. And I say that as someone who can easily read three times faster than I normally do. What I can't do however is process information three times faster. There is absolutely no way speed-reading will allow you to experience a novel fully.
What I want to ask people who believe in speed-reading is if they watch DVDs on 2x the speed and get the full enjoyment of the movie. If they don't they are telling me they aren't taking in the experience of a novel at the speed they are reading. If they really can experience things fully when they are speeded up, why limit it to reading?

Basically I have seen no evidence that speed-reading isn't just a way to brag about how many books you can read. And I see no reason for anyone who likes reading to learn speed-reading.
Why would you take the time to read a book that you feel you can skim parts of? I don't think anyone who loves reading for enjoyment would want to speed-read. And that makes me question the motives of speed-readers, are you just wanting to brag about how much you've read?
I do understand wanting to read faster though, I stopped writing a wish-list five years ago. It was getiing silly when it passed 3,000 books. But I still want to take the time to enjoy those books, and I don't see speed-reading as a solution. I'd rather enjoy the books I have time to read, and not rush through them. Frankly I'll skip the books I feel the need to rush through, and rather "slow-read" the books that entertain me

My reading speed also depends on the grade level of the writing. MG is a super fast read, while adult is much slower. It depends on the author's writing style. Authors who have long descriptions and analogies require me to read much slower so that I can comprehend what is written, while the average teen chick novel requires less comprehension skills so I can read those very fast.

Mr. Breadcrumb
02-22-2013, 01:56 AM
To each their own, but I think there's a fundamental disconnect for me where I don't get why reading faster is supposed to be automatically better. Like I'm somehow stuck with inferior tools because my reading is on the slow end. I mean sure, if you have to get through a slush pile, I get it, but I hear this stuff about learning to suppress subvocalization, and it sounds like how if you could just get over the need to chew or the primitive desire to taste your food, you could eat much faster.

I like slowing to hear the way the words sound. Stopping, even, to picture the scene. I find my own worst writing comes when I've run ahead of myself, and I go back and think "did I even pause to think how this sounds?"

I just don't know why I'd want to take something as fundamental to me as how I read and think (as they are deeply entwined for me) and warp it all around just so I can do it faster. Like it's a race.

That isn't to say I think it's wrong to read fast or to diminish the joy any speed readers take from reading. Like I say, it takes all kinds. But some people seem to have the idea that if they read slow, they must not be so smart. That they aren't a "good" reader and would be smarter, perhaps a better person, if they could read faster.

It just seems an empty goal to me, in and of itself.