The internet is quite a powerful tool to learn new skills. A set of keywords on your favorite search engine produces hundreds of pages of reading material. As you know from your own experience, it would take ages to read them all. Well, one good technique is to filter results and preselect them for reading. Another one is learning to read faster, and, with the help of books.
Speed reading techniques have been taught since the 1980’s. Through the years, different styles have been developed supposedly to help us read and understand more in less time. Below we review five speed reading books to help you get started.
1. How to Be a Super Reader by Ron Cole
We already talked about Ron Cole a few times here at the blog. Not only had I used it to teach myself speed reading, I also love his online tools to practice techniques. Anyway, the book’s premise is that it’s not just about how you read but more about how you recall what you read. Its promise is that you will always remember what you just finished reading.
Well, a bit of work is needed to get there. It doesn’t assume that you are already a fast reader. Ron will teach you speed reading techniques such as reading with your fingers, as well as exercises to use them. And, there’s also a section for advanced reading styles, which is the best benefit of this speed reading book.
Before you start you will need to assess your learning style. This is the basis for determining how we process information and can influence how we comprehend what we read. When reading the book, you will also learn that it’s more efficient to understand groups of words rather one word at a time. To get there he supplies you with some cool PDFs, which you can already download and print, and then learn to read chunks of words using hand pacing techniques.
2. Breakthrough Rapid Reading by Peter Kump
Breakthrough Rapid Reading uses techniques that have been around since the 1970’s; not surprising since Peter Kump has worked for the speed reading pioneer, Evelyn Wood. What the book is saying is that these techniques actually work and 40 years of experience can prove it.
The work has 36 chapters with each chapter discussing one technique starting with the so-called hand pacing technique, a tactic where your eye follows your finger across the page. You only have to work on one chapter per day. Each chapter contains anecdotes of how the method discussed has helped other people plus some drills at the end.
The book emphasizes purposeful reading. It advises the reader to get only what is required from the material being read and then stop reading. Doing so would allow the reader to finish reading materials faster. The nice thing about the material is that it allows the reader to practice on his own materials. This will allow the reader to integrate the techniques into his lifestyle immediately.
3. The Speed Reading Book by Tony Buzan
Tony Buzan focuses on the concept of reading chunks of words, which has been widely introduced in the late 1990’s. The other information the book contains gives valuable insights into how we read. It discusses what happens when we are presented with text for reading.
This is a book packed with information about speed reading, but is not very instructional, although practice materials are included. The good point is that it shows a way to measure progress. However, this is one of the speed reading books you want to read in one sitting.
4. Super Reading Secrets by Howard Stephen Berg
Howard Berg is noted in the Guinness Book of World Records as the man who could read 80 pages per minute. This book supposedly explains his methods. While the book does discuss techniques for reading faster – skimming and reading with the fingers – it is the allied information that give it value. There are sections about study habits and memory aids. The book feels more like a text book, because there aren’t that many exercises.
The catch with this book is the editing. The material could have been organized better. References should have been checked. All in all though, the fastest reader in the world gives the reader a good idea of how he did it.
5. Learn to Speed Read by Kris Madden
This is a short piece of seven chapters, though the author recommends taking your time, say roughly six weeks. You will find two different parts: In the first one, Kris identifies the reading habits that slow down our reading and shows ways to break those habits. The second part is where he introduces speed reading techniques by replacing old habits with more effective ones. Essentially, Madden wants you to replace the habit of subvocalization with visualization. Finally, the last learning chapter is where you try to understand the text just by looking at the entire paragraph.
The author defines the terms he uses and adds a little explanation why this method helps. The rest of the chapter is the set of exercises that are to be done one per day of the week. There’s is a quick test at the end of each chapter to see if you’ve made any improvements. Kris also published a few videos on YouTube to better understand basic techniques.
Speed Reading Books: The Verdict
The speed reading books mentioned above will teach you similar techniques. They all advocate the use of the finger or a pointing device to guide the eye through the page. Another common element is that they all teach us to avoid reading word for word.
In all books you will also find daily exercises to achieve your goals. As noted by the authors themselves, you need to apply these methods in your everyday life to enjoy the full benefit. For this, Kump’s book allows the reader to do just that. It is always easier and more enjoyable to read something you are interested in. Madden’s use of Alice in Wonderland will not easily sit well with everybody. The drills in the other books may not exactly be interesting to all readers.
Explanatory notes are also handy. The ideas that accompany the techniques can help to reinforce them. However, they should not detract from the main subject which is reading faster and with more understanding. To this end, Berg’s material could do better, but it provides interesting insights. Kump’s Breakthrough Rapid Reading and Cole’s How to Be a Super Reader are two of the best speed reading books available as they offer a more comprehensive approach, and are also suitable as training guides.
Further Reading: What is the Best Rated Speed Reading Software?