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home : opinion : opinion December 7, 2019

10/4/2019 12:08:00 PM
Reading Faster And Learning More

Marty Reep, Author
Speaker, Forward-Thinker

You can read faster and comprehend more. It’s true. Speed reading – with a twist – works. Other people’s claims (and mine) of reading 25,000 words per minute may sound like a lot, but it’s really not that much.

When I was in the ninth grade, our English teacher had us time ourselves while reading a novel and calculate the number of words per minute we had just read. My reading speed was 125 wpm. “Ok. So-so,” I thought. But then, something awful happened. She told us to calculate how long it would take us to finish the book by multiplying the average number of words per page times the number of pages left.

It was going to take me two more weeks to finish the book 1984. I was so overwhelmed, I almost started crying! Then, I got mad. Then, I determined to learn how to read faster. My research was weak, thin, or something, but I just couldn’t connect the dots. But, that nagging desire to speed things up while reading never went away.

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When I was in the tenth grade, I had to do an oral report on a play. I picked “Harvey”, because it was short and funny – but, mainly because it was short. Okay, the six-foot tall white rabbit was cool to read about, too – but, the play was short. I put it off until the night before I had to give the speech. I stayed up most of the night reading some of it, falling asleep, waking up, rereading the same stuff I had just read, over and over. When it was time to go to school a few hours later, I hadn’t really “read” the whole thing.

So, in a panic on the bus, I zoned out for ten minutes and absorbed the whole play from start to finish. I decided to intentionally take mental photos of each page, demanding that my mind consume them, somehow. I didn’t know how to do it, but I knew what I wanted it to do.

When I gave the presentation a few hours later, I put on a smile, told myself I was a speech-giving-rock-star, and started talking. In the midst of my five-minute presentation, the whole play came to life in my mind. I was telling my classmates about the story as if I were standing inside of the story, itself. It was surreal! When I finished, everyone clapped, and my teacher was beaming. Her mouth had been gaped open for a moment, but she quickly caught it happening and straightened herself. I got an “A”.

Roll forward to the years 2000-2001. I started a job that required me to read dozens of pages, daily. I was drowning. So, I started researching, again. The local library only had a few things. Then I went to thrift stores, looking for more books or books that were related somehow to the topic. I found a half dozen titles ranging from Evelyn Wood’s Reading Dynamics to Wade Cutler’s Triple Your Reading Speed.

But, most of the techniques made my eyes hurt and didn’t seem fast enough for me. Even then, I really wanted to be able to consume a book in minutes, instead of weeks or months. Being able to ingest and digest another person’s thoughts and concepts in a single sitting had to be possible. It happened whenever I sat in on a conference speaker’s presentation, in a lecture, or during a sermon. So, why not with reading?

In 2001, I finally learned how to read photographically, or “photoread”, as some people say. Paul Scheele’s book, PhotoReading was amazing. Since then, I’ve done what dozens of people told me wasn’t possible: reading somewhere around 25,000 wpm and knowing what I read.

So, if someone is telling you that you can’t do something, or that something can’t be done…don’t believe them. Research it. Keep trying. You’ll figure it out. And, you’ll read at more than 25,000 wpm, too, if that’s what you want to do!

Have a great week!

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