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February 13, 2006

Why I don’t like speed reading.

Filed under: Opinions — Manish Bansal @ 2:08 pm

Speed reading is a method of reading wherein you can achieve really high reading speeds using techniques like word assimilation, skimming, removing subvocalization and controlling eye movement etc. Some people even claim to achieve reading speed of 1000 words per minutes, with 100% comprehension!

I am not a slow reader but, hell, who can resist 1000 wpm reading speeds? So I tried this speed reading thing but couldn’t really see any real gains. My brain would hurt and I was not able to sleep at night after a speed reading session.

Here is why this thing doesn’t work. What we call reading is actually made up of two parts – words in-take + processing. What speed reading gives you is a really high speed of word in-take. It doesn’t make the processing of those words any faster. It’s like connecting a huge data pipe to a 486 processor. The processor works at its own pace while the data sits there waiting to be processed. And that buffer storage space is limited. As long as the old data is there, you can’t do any more reading.

Speed reading doesn’t work for kinds of reading anyway. You can’t read physics faster and you don’t want to read novels faster. Kind of a lose-lose situation.

So you can either read slowly and process the data at the same time or cram in huge chunks of data into your buffer and let the brain do its thing at its own pace. I prefer the former method, atleast for the joy of reading that it gives me.



  1. I have also heard ppl who can read very fast. But I am very poor in reading fast.
    I take months to finish the novel (not becoz only of slow speed, but also I dont
    like reading novels much). I get distracted while reading novels so that makes
    speed more slower.
    Would like to know the techniques to make it faster. Cheers 🙂

    Comment by Nidhi — February 15, 2006 @ 12:04 pm | Reply

  2. Your reading speed depends as much on your reading habits as the type of material you read. Also your speed goes up automatically once you start reading lots of novels. This technique can definitely help if you are really slooooooow. But I am not a big fan of reading at 1000 wpm anyway.

    Comment by manishbansal — February 15, 2006 @ 12:51 pm | Reply

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