CURRENTLY READING:The Supernova Era by Liu Cixin

26 February 2014

Speed Reading & the Visual Brain


1,000WPM Goal

I never really realized that I could speed read until I actually tried. I’ve been reading books my whole life but never fast enough, thinking I would never understand them if I did. I skimmed a lot of annoying, long and boring paragraphs. But never considered doing this through all the books. Specially not fiction.

One day I came up with the realization, that as I read I do not see the words. I see pictures. I can’t read the word “cow” without reading the whole sentence in one blink in order to picture what the cow is doing. So I never really read word by word. Then, my idea was, what if I could train my brain to see each line faster, right after the previous one, and basically roll a movie in my head a fast motion, like watching a TV set. This of course requires of silence and no distractions. Else my brain just unplugs from the meaning of the words.

I am doing some exercises every day for five minutes. So far I am able to read a page a minute of a normal soft cover book. At about 400 wmp. I can read up to 600wpm with simpler text. 300 wpm if I have to slow down to savor the words, specially those describing a character’s emotional response to a particular event. The event can play in my mind as I blink around the page, but the emotions need time, as I feel them, not think them.

I have read articles on how speed reading is a myth and if you do, you end up with less than 50% comprehension. I have noticed however, this to be untrue. It all depends in your mood, health, eye muscles, practice, and what kind of brain you developed. Someone who thinks in words will read slower as he pronounce each word, even if inside his mind. Someone, like me, who thinks in images, will read faster as each word is instantly translated into pictures, which is faster than sound. Think of a lighting and the sound of it afterwards. Both the same, but different speeds. As for comprehension, it also works the same way.

The reason I am able to comprehend as much as I read, is because I can recall images, much as memories, as if I lived them myself. The memories I have from stories and dreams are as real to me as your own memories. As such, I am able to remember what I read. If it wasn’t because of my trained long term visual memory (maybe natural), I wouldn’t be able to retain much of what I read. I studied only in images. I would draw maps and color keys for tests. I would recall these images with colors and I was always amongst the top of my class. I never really had to study much. Just flip around images, listen carefully in class and always passed my exams. I can only recall a person’s name if I see it written and write it myself actively in my mind’s eye, same goes for dates and numbers. Like remembering how to dial a phone number but not knowing the numbers unless I have the pattern on front of me.

All in all, I believe my brain has the proper wiring to read as fast as I wish. So I have faith that I can manage to reach 1000wpm. Read at about 5 to 6 books a month if I want to. Or even manage to find time to read the magazines I so much want to read but never seem to find the time to. Just need some eye training, as my peripheral vision is slacky. (Always almost getting hit by bikes or people.)

The reason of this post is because I haven’t been able to find much about speed reading and the fact that the only way to do it is to be able to see what you read in images. So I am writing this, for myself and others like me. Even if no one will really find this. Just in case. I like to share. :)
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