Is it possible to be a speed reader?

Date:15 January 2020 Author: Leila Stein Tags:,

While some of us may enjoy taking our time with a book, there are those who are skilled at powering through as fast as possible. One such person is Anne Jones, a six-time speed reading champion from the UK who can finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 47 minutes.

Anne Jones has made a profession of her skill in the UK, making appearances as book launches to finish the new releases in record time. She also runs training courses, teaching others to become super fast readers as well.

The skill of speed reading is hotly debated around whether those doing it are actually “reading” and whether you’re born with the ability or if it can be learnt.

Reading is a process that incorporates many steps inside the brain, these include seeing the word, retrieving its meaning, relating the word to the rest of the sentence and then moving your eyes to the next word. According to Lifehack, the pace at which we read is based on how long we look and “take-in” a word before moving on to the next, this is called fixation. Speed readers are understood to shorten their fixation on a word.

The average person reads between 200-499 words per minute, speed readers often claim to be able to amp this up to around 1000-1700 words. They allegedly do this by shortening their “fixation” period.

But speed readers claiming to finish books incredibly quickly yet still retaining the same level of comprehension, is unlikely according to experts in the field. This is because an eye can only take so much in and the brain can only process so fast.

“Reading is about language comprehension, not visual ability. If you want to improve your reading speed, your best bet — as old-fashioned as it sounds — is to read a wide variety of written material and to expand your vocabulary,” said Jeffrey Zacks and 

Ultimately, speed reading is a possible option for getting through short documents where only the outline of information is important, but it is unlikely you’ll really enjoy Harry Potter if you speed through it.

Image: Pexels

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