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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Reading Speed

   
Author Topic: Reading Speed
RyanB
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Once again I've decided I need to read faster.

The benefits are clear. Authors need to read. A lot. And you have to balance that with writing. The faster you read the more you can read in a given time.

I'm a slow reader. I "say" each word as I read silently. I realize I can read faster by not doing "verbalizing" and sometimes I do that, but I always revert back to verbalizing.

The problem is I enjoy reading slower/verbalizing. But I'm not sure how much of this is just the reluctance to break a habit. It seems to me that verbalizing allows me to experience a written work as I do a spoken story. Mostly this means I get to think about the story as I'm reading it. I "ask" questions regarding the plot and setting. I question/analyze the authors style. I also get some of the "extras" that verbal stories add like pauses, inflections, accents, etc.

I'm not sure I could do these things reading quickly, sans-verbalization. But I wonder if that's because I'm not used to doing it. Perhaps if I just practiced more I wouldn't feel like I was missing out. I hear that comprehension actually goes up when you read quicker.

So what about you all? Are you verbalizers or non-verbalizers? Do you see an advantage one way or another? Do you have any tips for reading quicker without sacrificing analysis?

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History
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I actually read more slowly now--at least for authors I wish to learn from (e.g. Mark Helprin and Michael Chabon). I do not verbalize words, except for passages I re-read because I find them brilliant. However I do listen to boons on CD of my favorite tales to catch their flow and cadence.

Slow reading teaches me more as an author about the craft/mechanics of writing.
Fast reading teaches me more about the seamlessness of the story transmission and the enjoyment of the reader in his/her captivity to the story.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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extrinsic
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I read at different rates depending on genre and purpose. I mean genre in a broader way; that is, fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, journalism, scholarship, legal documents, and so on.

When proofreading, my reading rate is low. When copyediting, my reading rate is lower. When developmental editing, my reading rate is lowest.

When reading for information, I read at my speaking rate. When reading for entertainment, my reading rate at least doubles. However, reading rate is only one factor. If comprehension is low, I might as well slow down so I don't have to go over the material again and again.

My lips move when I write. They sometimes move when I read, when the tactile sensations of the words on my palate feel pleasant, vibrant, exciting.

I was blessed by reading skills courses in high school. One year's worth. I started the coursework with an abysmal reading and comprehension rate. At the end, I was flying through reading and comprehending nearly fully. The one factor that made the most difference was asking questions while I read. Why is the frog purple? Who is this detective that he gets away with an indecent lifestyle for which I'd be imprisoned? Where is this place? Does that sentence mean the opposite of its tangible meaning (it's an irony)? And so on.

Asking questions leaves me fully informed. I also found problem readers I've tutored in reading skills advance by prompting them to ask questions while they read.

In my day, reading skills instruction used analog filmstrip machines that advanced a text at a set rate. If I read comprehensively at two hundred words per minute, to push for faster, I'd set the machine to two hundred twenty-five, and so on. Today, digital reading skills applications function the same way.

One exercise that aids in developing speed, is to hold a card the width of a page on a page of book text. Periodical text won't do. Periodical text layout conserves space. Book text space is ample. Human eyes are able to view and comprehend a book-width text line in two blinks, five idealized words in one blink. Increasing reading rate holds the card to line, glances at the text, captures the text's meaning, and moves on.

To determine reading rate, count the words on an average page. Read and time how rapid so many words are read. Determining comprehension rate is more problematic. A test is needed. Reading comprehension applications and programs come with texts and tests.

I both verbally and nonverbally read. I do see advantages to both. Over time, I've become adept at reading rapidly without sacrificing comprehension or analysis. I'm a voracious reader. So much reading; so little time. Pages to go before I sleep.

[ April 23, 2013, 10:46 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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MAP
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I read because I enjoy reading. I read at my natural rate, and I know I could read faster if I tried, but then I wouldn't enjoy it so much.

I know that people are given the writing advice to read, read, read. Read everything even books you don't like. Without a doubt there is some merit to that advice, but I don't follow it. Reading is a pleasure for me, and I don't want to ruin that. I wouldn't want to write if I didn't love to read.

So I read what I want and at the speed I want, and I'm not going to change that. I don't want to ruin something that I love.

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extrinsic
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Advancing my reading skills, while hard work, enhances my reading experiences. I had missed so much exquisite meaning before.
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SASpencer
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When I start a book, I plan to read it slowly and analyze the author's style, etc. Then I get caught up in the story, it becomes a movie in my head, and I don't know what happens from then on out.
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Robert Nowall
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I used to be able to read a book in about a day...but things have slowed down some of late. I can still crank it up, but the need (and relative desire) to do so is low.
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Wordcaster
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For fiction, I read at my natural speed. The more action, usually the faster I read. I like to get in the pacing and rhythm of the story.

Non-fiction I often will intentionally read fast, unless I am reading a good biographer (e.g. Walter Isaacson) or something that is more narrative than informational (e.g. Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman).

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Robert Nowall
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Could be the choice of books influences my reading speed.

For the past couple of months, I've picked up a couple of "ancient classics"---first Herodotus, then Plutarch, then an abridged Edward Gibbon. I've been reading them at work during breaks and lunches---it's slow going, takes a couple of weeks, but they're also dense works---literate and literary, packed with information. The first two of course are translations---I'd try the originals but it'd just be Greek to me. (Thought it was about time to read some of these things at more than a casual browse-through level---after all, Gibbon was a major influence on Asimov's Foundation trilogy.)

Perhaps my overall reading material is also somewhat denser of late---simultaneous with the Gibbon, I've been reading a more recent history of the Fall of the Roman Empire, that I'm about two-thirds through though I've been reading it since the middle of last week.

Fiction has pretty much gone by the boards, though there's still some in the mix. Also, I do a lot of splitting of my reading material---a different book for different places in the house (or at work)

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MartinV
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Lately I can't seem to find any writers that I would truly enjoy. So I went to reading stuff I've read before but quite a time ago. Currently starting on The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by You Know Who.
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Reziac
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I have the same problem... so I wind up rereading CJ Cherryh and Jack Vance for the umpteenth time. Not that this is such a hardship, but still...!!
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