Thursday, March 19, 2015

Confessions of a speed reader

Introduction by Melissa Amster

When my family and I first moved to the DC area and started settling into our new neighborhood, we went out for dinner at the local pizza place. Almost immediately, we were greeted by one of the friendliest women in the community. I'm not even exaggerating. She was just so nice and she even called me the next day to invite my sons and I to meet up with her and some friends at a local park. A few years later, I joined a book club and she happened to be one of the members. While it was taking me a few weeks to finish the books our group had chosen each time, she would breeze through one in a matter of hours. This is on top of working all day at the local preschool, studying for her Masters in Education, and raising FIVE kids--one being a toddler. How is that even possible, you ask? Well, this friend of mine is a speed reader.

Meet Ruchel Green. Ruchel lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband and five children. In her "free time" (ha! ha!) you will find her reading (a.k.a. browsing educational material online for the graduate degree shes working on) baking (a.k.a. cooking dinner or packing lunches), or exercising (a.k.a. running after her toddler or up and down the steps with the laundry). She's here today, during "Books and Reading month," to tell us what speed reading is really like.

Why and how did you learn to speed read?
I am not really sure when I noticed I read fast. I remember in High School a teacher gave us a passage to read and an assignment to complete when we were finished. When I went up to the teachers desk to get the assignment my teacher looked at me puzzled and said “did you finish the reading yet”. When I read up on speed reading I learned that for most people who speed read it comes naturally. There are many books and workshops on Speed Reading but most teach something called “Skimming”. I once took a workshop in college on skimming which teaches you to look for the main ideas quickly. This was helpful as a college student because one can get through large amount of reading quickly. When reading for pleasure or when you need more than the “main ideas” this is not a useful method.

What is the quickest amount of time you've been able to finish a large novel? (500 pages or more.)
Honestly, I’m not sure. Quickly.

How many books are you able to get through on a week when you're not too busy with work, school, and household responsibilities?
I spent my childhood with massive stacks of books next to my bed and flashlights for reading under the covers! I would finish stacks of books each week! These days I don’t have much time for reading but when I have a few hours to myself…I read a few books!

How are you able to understand what is going on in the book and retain little details when you're finished?
People have told me that “speed reading” is always “skimming”. Maybe in some ways they are correct because you don’t focus on each word but rather the whole sentence when “speed reading” but for me it hasn’t impacted my comprehension.

If someone wanted to learn how to speed read, what is the first thing they should try doing?
They should try to read words in groups. Less eye movement helps with speed. Some speed readers use a pencil to keep their place while reading. Also, pay close attention to each word to help with comprehension and avoid having to re-read text.

What is a book you've read recently that you'd recommend?
Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Heartbreaking, but a fabulous read. I read it in 40 minutes.

Thanks to Ruchel for visiting with us and giving us insight to speed reading. 


Janine said...

I envy those who can read fast. I have never been a very fast reader. It probably takes me twice as long as most people to read a book. But I still love reading.

cpr040304 said...

My husband reads fast it's crazy. I, on the other hand, am a slow reader. I have to have absolute silence (I have kids so I wear my ear plugs) without my earplugs I have to re-read the same sentence over and over again. You have a gift. I also read Still Alice, but not in 40 minutes. It takes me about 2 weeks to read a book in between all my other responsibilities.

Anonymous said...

I'm so fascinated with speed reading. A father of a friend of mine gives seminars and lectures about it, training people in speed reading. I have not tried it yet but maybe I should, knowing I'm actually a pretty slow reader and would love to be able to pick the exact same content but at a faster pace.

Carol Fragale Brill said...

With so many books on my TBR list speed reading is enticing.
I loved Still Alice. One of my top 5 favorites