When it comes to me, I look at reading the same way I looked at meat sauce pasta on the family dinner table when I was a kid: it’s about voraciously ingesting as much of it as fast as possible. Back then, I just needed to eat faster than my other 12 cousins—and they ate very fast too. Now, I just need to read as quickly as possible while maintaining a good comprehension and retention ratio.
For instance, it used to take me around one hour to read 30 pages. I used to think I’m just slow at reading and that my mind simply can’t absorb information all that fast. Then I discovered that there’s a technique for reading.
Let’s first dispel a couple of common misconceptions about reading. First, you can use services that summarize books and give you the 15 minutes condensed, diluted audio version of a 200 pages book. If you need to, you need to. In my experience, summaries are always subjective to what the summarizer thinks is essential. That might differ significantly from what you feel is important. Also, most books I’ve read had much more compelling side stories than main themes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten deeply inspired by little side comments on random pages, which made sense. It’s impossible to get that without reading the actual book. Also, people who write books – let’s call them authors because that’s their name – generally put some thought into their writing. In most cases, they’re writing about something they are either passionate about or researched extensively. People who write summarize are much less passionate about what they’re doing, by definition.
Second, reading speed is not about raw brainpower. It’s attainable—easily. Reading speed is about eye movement efficiency, nothing more, nothing less. Think of it this way: have you ever listened to an audiobook? The answer is probably: “yes.” Then try to listen at double speed (2x) or even 3x or 4x. You’ll notice that you get used to it, and you can very well understand the information being conveyed. Therefore, the limiting factor in reading speed is not your brain’s raw processing power but much more your ability to control eye movement. Think of it this way: you’re probably familiar with old mechanical hard disks being read by lenses. Reading speed is not about the transfer rate between the reading material (book) and the CPU (your brain). The bottleneck is the lens speed, or in this case: your eye speed.