Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Speed Reader

I happened to see Monday's Musing Mondays question at the same time I was thinking about speed reading, so I thought I'd put it altogether and write about my thoughts here.
When reading do you read every word? Do you ever skip chapters or skim over parts?
I read fast. Okay, not as fast as some people (S. Krishna, I'm looking at you!), but faster than most. I always read fast as a kid. During English class, when we'd read out loud, I was always getting in trouble for not paying attention, not knowing when it was my turn. The truth was that I wasn't daydreaming, I was reading ahead. At first, my teachers would be annoyed but usually, once they realized that my comprehension was as good as (if not better than) most of my classmates, they'd get over it. Pretty soon, I'd finish the book and pull out the next one.


Years later, I heard a talk on speed reading and I realized that that was what I had unconsciously been doing all along. The method the speaker described involved scanning a page to identify key points, then going back and filling in the gaps, but paying particular attention to the first and last sentences in a paragraph, people's/character's names and other words that appear important. I tend to read an entire block of text at a time, rather than word by word. All of this happens faster than I can think about it, though. At the end of a page, I've read every word but have paid more attention to some. This does mean that sometimes I will miss inflection, as I may not read all the words on a page in the order they were written, but that's rare.

What's the upshot of this? Not much. The only thing I've ever really been able to identify as a problem is that I have a very hard time reading poetry. When I hear poetry, I understand it fine, but the words in a poem are meant to be read in a certain order, so I can't really do it.

Are any of you speed readers? Did you learn to do it intentionally or did you, like me, naturally start reading that way?

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