Tag Archives: Speed reading

61 Books in a Year

26 Jul

Ken Norton explains how he did it:

When I analyzed my reading habits, I realized that despite only finishing five or six books a year, I was already spending a big portion of my evening reading: social media, the news, Silicon Valley think pieces, and my Pocket backlog. Some of it would be worthwhile, but I wasn’t deliberate in how I chose to spend my time (ahem, Wikipedia wormholes). Junk reading, like junk food, is momentarily satisfying but terrible for you in the long term. I didn’t need to read more, I thought, I just needed to read healthier.

He has four other suggestions. I wonder how much of my reading is junk reading? There are certain blogs I look at everyday, but I think I mostly profit from that. I don’t spend time on Twitter or Facebook, but I do spend a lot of time reading newspapers on my Kindle. Norton seems to have the same issue:

I’m still a news junkie when it comes to politics, but I’ve metered the time I spend reading the news (primarily to keep my blood pressure down). I subscribe to important publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post, and I try to pepper short bursts of news over the course of the day. I also don’t load news or articles on my Kindle.



Does Tyler Cowen have a limited vocabulary?

16 Jun

In a recent blog post, Tyler Cowen wrote  “I think of myself as commanding only a limited English-language vocabulary.”

I am very skeptical of this claim.

Cowen has a Ph.D. from Harvard and higher education is positively correlated with vocabulary size. Cowen is also a famously fast reader of complex academic texts. I do not see how such a reading speed would be possible without good sight reading knowledge of a very large vocabulary.

Here is Cowen’s advice for reading fast.

And here is his trip to The Strand with Michael Orthofer.

More on speed reading

10 Feb

Last week I blogged on speed reading.

One interesting area of research is rapid serial visual presentation  (RSVP) of words. Unfortunately, while RSVP can significantly increase reading speed for short texts, the available evidence suggests that comprehension suffers for longer texts.

However, here is a Quantified Self video making the case for RSVP

Kyrill Potapov: Finding My Optimum Reading Speed from Quantified Self on Vimeo.

Speed reading claim called into question

23 Apr

I have always wanted to believe that speed reading is possible and that, some day, I could obtain this ability. One of the claims made in speed reading courses and books is that regression, going back and rereading words, contributes to slow reading and can be eliminated.

Now, a paper published in Psychological Science reports evidence that regression is necessary for comprehension. Here is the abstract:


Recent Web apps have spurred excitement around the prospect of achieving speed reading by eliminating eye movements (i.e., with rapid serial visual presentation, or RSVP, in which words are presented briefly one at a time and  sequentially). Our experiment using a novel trailing-mask paradigm contradicts these claims. Subjects read normally or while the display of text was manipulated such that each word was masked once the reader’s eyes moved past it. This manipulation created a scenario similar to RSVP: The reader could read each word only once; regressions (i.e., rereadings of words), which are a natural part of the reading process, were functionally eliminated. Crucially, the inability to regress affected comprehension negatively. Furthermore, this effect was not confined to ambiguous sentences. These data suggest that regressions contribute to the ability to understand what one has read and call into question the viability of speed-reading apps that eliminate eye movements (e.g., those that use RSVP).

Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that there is trade off between reading speed and comprehension.

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Spritz: A speed reading breakthrough?

27 Feb

I have always wanted to be a faster reader. I have taken speed reading courses and read speed reading books. While I think I gained some benefits from these programs, my overall improvement has only been marginal. Above and beyond my anecdotal experience, the research on speed reading has not been very encouraging.

Yesterday, I discovered Spritz with its innovative approach to increasing reading speed. You can try a prototype at the website. It’s too early to pass judgement on this approach, but I am intrigued.

Here’s video about the technology:

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