If you don’t follow me on Instagram, then you might not know that I’ve been struggling to keep up with the books I’ve been reading. I want to read faster, but don’t know how to approach that when it comes to reading.
But after researching and watching videos, what I’ve learned is that speed reading isn’t a real thing. As readers, we know this but there are two objectives to reading: 1) Read the words on the page 2) Comprehend what they’re saying.
Of course our brains do both of these actions at the same time. We read, we comprehend, we move forward to see what happens next. The tone and pace of a novel will also help with this process especially if it’s written well.
But when you speed read (or push yourself to read faster), you sacrifice one of these objectives. You read the words on the page faster, yes, but your comprehension drops significantly.
Why? Because while your brain is busy reading the words, it doesn’t have time to make that synapse to comprehend what was just written. It could be a subtle difference like not knowing the color of a character’s eyes or it could be a big difference like skipping over an important plot point that will crop up sometime later. As a person who reviews books for a living, I need to comprehend otherwise my review may contain some biases I didn’t anticipate before.
I’m a slow reader and that’s freaking fine with me. While I wish my brain could read more words a minute, I cherish comprehending the book more than trying to finish it. I’ve realized that reading isn’t a race and it shouldn’t ever feel that way. The only person I’m competing against is myself and adding those arbitrary goals to yourself that mean little to anyone else means that I’m stressing out and I don’t need to be.
But I know that when I read I’ll be able to really immerse myself into the story. I’ll remember small details I might have overlooked. I’ll enjoy the time spent with my book because I’m not trying to finish it.
If you’re considering speed reading or quickening your pace, go for it. I don’t want to stop anyone from doing something they’re willing to try. However, I would keep track of how much you’ve comprehended and if you missed anything. It might make the difference as to whether or not speed reading is right for you.