Reading The Speed Reading Book by Tony Buzan
Tony Buzan is something like a deity to me. Not only because he's the official inventor of Mind Maps, my preferred technique for making notes, giving speeches and planning tasks, but because he's shown me the way to learn.
Many people think investing time in reading how to read is useless, because you should just read more. So if you're a bad cook, you should just cook more in the same way that gave catastrophic results? Or would you consider reading a cookbook or two before attempting another shot at lasagna? Applying your old habits and approaches does not work if you want to improve.
Reading speed is something I was stuck with for quite some time. I was a painfully slow reader, not because I couldn't read faster, but because I thought and stuck (especially with study materials) to the method, that in order to understand and remember, you have to read slowly and carefully. I also like to read so I hear words in my head which additionally slowed me down. (Poems and novels are great to read this way, you can literally feel the verses and the paragraphs form in your mouth, it's not just going over words and understanding them, but feeling them, pondering about them... I love to do this, it's a physical contact with the material; likewise I can't read off the computer screen, I have to print the material out.) And here was my friend Tony, who was the first one to tell me that slow and carefully does not amount to better comprehension. And once I tried, when I forced myself to read faster, I noticed that I understand the material better.
I still have problems, because I was stuck with my old, slow reading speed for decades and have to force myself to read faster and faster (Ideally I also use a leading tool, a pencil, otherwise I start reading fast, but the more I read the slower I get.) and especially with study materials this is still difficult. Realizing I could read twice as much in the same amount of time gives me hope, though, so I force myself to read faster, even if that means I have to read the same chapter twice. Reading faster gives you more time to reread, which I like doing and it does miracles for my memory. Once I read a text three or four times I already know it (almost) by heart.
Generally, this is a good speed reading book, a real do-it-yourself book, which offers insight into how people read and how to improve reading speed. However, I'm still a little skeptic about eventually reading at 3000 wpm, because even 500 seems quite fast to me. Also reading with a backwards sweep or two lines at a time is difficult, especially when the lines are long. In a newspaper I can read two lines at a time, but in a study book or a novel I find it very difficult. However, I hope that with perseverance I will manage to read even faster in the future. The only bad thing is that without a lead, I usually get stuck and start reading progressively slower. Having a lead on you at all times is not so difficult, but getting it out and using it is. I guess I'll just have to persevere.
While Tony still advocates some old-school ideas (e.g. that the brain is split in left, rational, hemisphere and right, creative, hemisphere), he always manages to introduce me to new knowledge which helps me to continually improve myself and that's what I like about him and what makes me read his books.
Has anybody tried to speed-read? What is your maximum speed?