How To Become a Fast Reader

Because I read 365 books in 2018, and even more in 2019, one of my most asked questions is how exactly I manage to do that. So I thought it might be fun to dedicate a blogpost to that.

I keep track of my reading on Goodreads, so feel free to add me!


Disclaimer

I’d like to be clear about one thing: reading is ultimately supposed to be fun and relaxing. If it causes you stress to try and read faster or more, that kind of defeats the purpose. So do try and find your own pace and enjoy yourself!

Additionally, reading speed is largely a personal thing, and you’re not a better reader if you’re a faster reader, nor are you a worse reader if you’re a slower reader. If you want to get around to more books, I would mainly advise you to follow the tips to read more, if possible. I do have tips to read faster, but like I said, they are personal and might not work for you. I wouldn’t want to cause you any stress!


Tips to read more

  1. Make reading a part of your daily routine. I always read in bed because it helps me clear my head so I can fall asleep more easily. But that might not be for you! In that case you might like to read during breakfast or lunch every day, or dedicate a part of your evening to reading. Or maybe you have a daily commute that gives you time to read!
  2. Prioritize reading. Similar to my first advice, to be able to read more, it’s important to make time for it. To do so, reading should be a priority (but only if you really want it to be, of course!) If you don’t get around to reading a lot, you could ask yourself what you do in your free time that doesn’t bring you the joy that reading does. Do you watch a lot of TV, maybe? Or spend a lot of time scrolling through your phone (I know I do!)?
  3. Consume books in different formats to optimize your reading time: physical books, ebooks, audiobooks. This might sound illogical, but it really helps me focus more on books if I don’t consume all of them in the same format.
  4. Similarly to different formats, different lenghts and differently paced books can also help you read more. If you’ve read a few longer books, it will help you feel more accomplished to read graphic novels, poetry, verse novels, novellas and anthologies.
  5. Read multiple books at once. I’ll give an example here. I finally read Anna Karenina at the start of 2019. It’s a classic I’d been wanting to get to for ages, so I’m glad I finally did. But it would have taken me a long time to finish it, and taken away from my enjoyment, if I hadn’t read it on the side. To read multiple books, I would mainly advise you to combine several formats. For instance, you could read a physical book, an ebook, and an audiobook at the same time. I also often read anthologies on the side, so I’ll squeeze in a few stories between reads or when I feel overwhelmed by the length of my current read.

Tips to read faster

  1. Don’t focus on the details too much. I’m not saying you should skim read the entire book, but it might not be necessary to actively read every word in every book you read. If you’re a trained reader, your understanding of the text won’t suffer if you don’t read every word. For me personally, this depends on the book I’m reading. Some books you might want to savour, but quicker or lighter reads, or really long reads with long descriptions, are usually more enjoyable if you speed up your reading a little.
  2. Something I’ve done ever since I’ve learned to read, but have understood not everyone is actually able to do, is not using subvocalization. Subvocalization means that you “say” the words in your head while you’re reading, so you’ll read in the same speed as you would read aloud. This is really fairly slow, as your brain can process language much faster than that. So if you can eliminate the little “voice” in your head that subvocalizes what you read, you will be able to get through books much faster; you’ll be speed reading.
  3. Not enjoying a book as much as you would have hoped, but you do want to finish it? You could try skim reading. I wouldn’t really recommend this, because your understanding of the text will suffer from it, but I did want to mention it, because it is a way to read faster that might work if you’re not reading a new favourite book. If I’m reading a book that I’m not loving, but that I do want to finish, for instance because I need to write a review, I do sometimes end up skimming the second half of the book, or more descriptive scenes, for example.
  4. Listen to audiobooks on double speed. Like I already said, your brain is able to process language much faster than you could speak. It might take some getting used to to increase your listening speed, and for that, it might help to increase it by .25. So you first increase the speed to 1.25, when you’re used to that, you increase it to 1.5, and you keep doing this until you’ve found a speed you’re comfortable listening to. For me, I’ve found that double speed is closest to my own reading speed, so that works best for me.
  5. Read more. Honestly, I believe that the more you read, the more your reading speed is naturally going to increase. I don’t want you to push yourself, so I would mainly recommend following the tips to read more, and you’ll likely start reading faster automatically. I’ve spent a *lot* of time reading in my life, and I’m convinced that it’s mainly my reading experience that makes me a fast reader. And remember: it’s not a competition! Whether you read 20 or 200 books a year, it’s your enjoyment that counts.

Are you a slow or a fast reader? Regardless, I hope these tips might help you!

12 thoughts on “How To Become a Fast Reader

Add yours

    1. You probably do! For me, it’s also just having a lot of free time to dedicate to reading since I’m not able to work very much. And yeah, if you solely read longer books, that’s going to take a little longer – and genre probably helps too! Because I read mainly YA and you do get through that a little bit quicker than adult books.

      Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I do some of those things already and some other I have done in the past but setting a specific time of a day for reading is so out of my reach! I have no idea how people do it but I guess that may be a part of me being a huge mood reader 😀
    Great post, Anniek!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! That’s absolutely fine of course!! I know a lot of people also need a certain calm to be able to read, whereas I absolutely need to read to become calm. So it’s very much a coping mechanism as well, and that’s why I do it every day

      Liked by 1 person

  2. No. 2 on subvocalisation is so true! As I’ve read more over the past few years I’d definitely picked up this skill which gave my reading speed a huge boost last year.
    Great post, Anniek!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a good post, Anniek! Reading is supposed to be fun and no one should put pressure on themselves! I’m naturally a fast reader too and due to a bit of free time, I’m able to read a lot. But I know for a fact if I had other big life obligations, I would struggle to read as much as I do now. It all depends on life circumstances, how fast/slow you read and most importantly, to always see reading as something fun! Great post and great tips! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t know there was a word for reading in your head at the same pace you would read out loud! And I’m on the fast reader side too, so I forgot that was a thing. Funny how the human brain works, but also incredibly cool.

    Anyway, these are some great tips. Switching up the length of your reads sounds especially helpful. Given that I love long books, I should consider incorporating that into my reading habits…

    Liked by 1 person

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