How to Read Books Faster

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Reading is one of the most fundamental ways to expand our knowledge and perspectives. This write-up will explore proven methods and tips on how to read books faster without sacrificing comprehension.

Whether diving into an epic fantasy novel for entertainment, immersing in a good self-help book, or studying dense textbooks to advance our careers, reading opens doors to new understanding worlds.

How to read books faster

Yet, finding time to read as much as we’d like in our busy modern lives can be a challenge. Between work, family, and other responsibilities, our free time seems to vanish before we know it. Though we understand the value of reading, more pressing demands often push it aside.

The good news is that with some simple techniques, we can all learn to read faster and make more time for books. You’ll learn how your brain processes text, tools that can help you read faster, and exercises to build your speed reading abilities.

Whether you want to get through more books, study material faster, or make the most of your limited reading time, the insights here will help. Let’s dive in and start unlocking the secrets of speed reading!

Understanding Your Reading Speed

Reading speed refers to the rate at which you can process and comprehend written text. It is usually measured in words per minute (wpm). Your reading speed impacts how much information you can absorb in a given time. Slower readers may struggle to get through material efficiently, while faster readers can breeze through more books and articles.

Knowing your exact reading speed can help you set goals for improvement. Here are some common ways to measure your current reading speed:

  • Time yourself reading a book passage or article for 1 minute. Count the number of words covered in that minute.
  • Use online reading speed test tools that calculate your wpm after you read a provided passage.
  • Download apps that track your reading speed through ebooks or other digital texts.

Test your reading speed using various samples, like fiction, non-fiction, and academic writing. Take the average to get a reliable measure. Understanding your baseline reading speed is the first step to boosting it through focused practice.

The Science Behind Speed Reading

Reading is a complex cognitive process that involves our eyes, brain, and perception. At its core, reading relies on recognizing words visually and decoding them into meaning. To do this quickly and efficiently, our brains utilize specialized areas like the visual cortex and Wernicke’s area.

When we read, our eyes move rapidly across lines of text in short stops called saccades.

During each saccade, the brain processes a chunk of words, usually around 7-9. Faster readers can process bigger chunks, allowing them to absorb more information with fewer saccades. The time between saccades is called fixation when new visual information is brought into the visual cortex.

Here are some common misconceptions about speed reading techniques:

  • Skipping words – Completely skipping words can hurt comprehension. The key is to train your eyes to take in more words during each saccade.
  • Skimming – Skimming involves glancing over the text for key points. This technique is useful for previewing or reviewing but not reading in-depth.
  • Reading down the middle – Trying only to read down the center of lines tends to backfire. It’s better to use your full field of vision.
  • While we can improve our reading speed through practice, our brains still have biological limits. The key is finding an optimal pace for absorbing the information accurately.

Techniques to Improve Your Reading Speed

There are several techniques you can use to improve your reading speed significantly. Two of the most effective are chunking and minimizing subvocalization, while others include skimming/scanning and choosing the right environment.


Chunking involves breaking down the text into small, manageable chunks. As you read, focus on one chunk at a time, taking in a few words or a short phrase together. This trains your eyes to move faster across the page. With practice, you can increase the size of the chunks you read while maintaining comprehension.

Minimizing Subvocalization

Subvocalization refers to silently sounding out words in your head as you read. This slows you down tremendously. Try to read without subvocalizing by focusing on the meanings of word groups rather than individual words. It takes practice, but you can absorb text without inner speech.

Skimming and Scanning

Skimming means quickly going over the text to get a general overview. Scanning involves swiftly searching for specific information, like names or dates. Both techniques allow you to extract information rapidly without getting bogged down in details.

Focus and Environment

To read faster, you need intense focus and zero distractions. Eliminate external distractions by choosing a quiet, comfortable place to read. Minimize internal distractions by clearing your mind before a reading session. Stay engaged with the material to maintain focus. The more focused you are, the quicker you’ll read.

Regularly practicing techniques like chunking, minimizing subvocalization, skimming, scanning, and honing your focus can significantly improve your reading speed over time.

Tools and Apps to Help Read Faster

Various tools and apps are available today that can assist with speed reading.

The Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) technology is one of the most well-known. This displays words rapidly one after another in the same spot on a screen or device. It aims to increase reading speed by minimizing the need to move your eyes. Studies show RSVP can improve reading speeds, though it may take time to get used to.

Regarding apps, some popular options include Spreeder, Outread, and Reedy. Most speed reading apps allow you to import articles and ebooks to practice on. They also track your progress over time.

These apps use spacing out text, guiding your focus, and rapidly flashing words to help train your eyes and brain to process information more efficiently. While these apps can be helpful tools, find one that best suits your reading goals and style. With consistent practice, they can aid you in reading faster without sacrificing comprehension.

Practice Makes Perfect

We’ve covered various techniques and tools for reading faster, but learning about them is not enough. To truly improve your reading speed, consistent practice is essential. As with any skill, your brain needs time and repetition to get comfortable processing information more rapidly.

Aim to practice speed reading daily, even for 10-15 minutes. Treat it like going to the gym – the more often you work out those mental muscles, the stronger they will become. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. With regular practice, you will gradually increase your reading speed over time.

Suggestions for Fun and Effective Speed Reading Exercises

Here are some engaging exercises to help improve your reading speed:

  • Use apps or online tools that track and challenge your reading speed. Seeing your progress can be highly motivating.
  • Time yourself reading news articles, blog posts or other short pieces. Try to beat your personal best.
  • Read with a pointer or pen to guide your eyes faster across lines of text.
  • Quickly scan through paragraphs to find keywords, then go back and read for full comprehension.
  • Read while listening to upbeat music to get into a focused, energetic mindset.
  • Join or form a speed reading book club. Discussing what you’ve read will reinforce comprehension.

The key is to experiment with exercises you find fun and engaging. This will make you look forward to practicing. With consistent effort, speed reading can become a rewarding lifelong habit.

Balancing Speed and Comprehension

One of the biggest concerns regarding speed reading is the potential loss of comprehension. It’s easy to get caught up in reading quickly and neglect to understand the material fully. However, with the right techniques, you can maintain or even improve comprehension while increasing reading speed.

Addressing the Concern of Comprehension Loss

It’s understandable to worry that you’ll miss key points or nuances in a text if you try to read too fast. The key is not to sacrifice comprehension for the sake of speed. Think of reading as efficiently absorbing information rather than simply plowing through text.

Remember that your natural reading speed is tied to your comprehension abilities. Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone can result in frustration and diminished retention. Increase your speed gradually as your comprehension keeps pace.

Tips to Maintain or Improve Comprehension

Here are some tips to boost comprehension while working on reading faster:

  • Preview titles, headings, and summaries to get context.
  • Focus on the author’s main points and arguments.
  • Visualize descriptions and narratives to aid memory.
  • Take strategic notes or highlights to reinforce key concepts.
  • Pause occasionally to reflect on what you’ve read.
  • Re-read complex sections if needed to solidify understanding.

With practice, your brain will adapt to absorbing information more efficiently. You can maximize both over time if you monitor your comprehension and adjust your speed accordingly.

The ultimate goal is not simply reading faster but reading smarter. Use techniques like skimming and scanning to identify which sections require close reading versus those you can move through more quickly. Quality comprehension matters more than sheer speed.

Trust that finding the right balance between speed and comprehension will come with experience. Be patient with yourself as you work to improve both together.


We’ve covered a lot of ground in this write-up on how to read books faster. From understanding your current reading speed to learning techniques to improve it, you now have several tools to become a faster reader.

Some key takeaways include chunking text into manageable sections, minimizing subvocalization, using apps with RSVP technology, and consistently practicing speed reading exercises. While these methods can help you read faster, it’s important not to sacrifice comprehension.

The ultimate goal is to find the right balance of speed and understanding that works for your unique reading style and objectives. Experiment with different techniques and find what clicks. Speed reading does take some effort, but with regular practice, it will start to feel natural.

Now that you’re armed with this knowledge, it’s time to implement it! Start implementing some of these speed reading techniques during your normal reading sessions. See what works for you and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to tweak and adjust until you find your optimal formula.

And finally, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Share your speed reading tips and success stories with others. Not only does this help motivate fellow readers, but it also allows us all to learn new perspectives and approaches. Knowledge grows exponentially when openly shared.

Happy reading at warp speed!

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