Tag Archives: reading

A Guide to Speed Reading

The PX Pro­ject is a single 3‑hour “cog­nit­ive exper­i­ment” designed to increase your read­ing speed. Aver­age increases using the tech­nique are appar­ently in the region of 386%. The tech­nique seems to involve three steps:

  • Min­im­ize the num­ber and dur­a­tion of fix­a­tions per line.
  • Elim­in­ate regres­sion and back-skip­ping.
  • Use con­di­tion­ing drills to increase hori­zont­al peri­pher­al vis­ion span and the num­ber of words registered per fix­a­tion.

Derren Brown has embed­ded a short video dis­cuss­ing the tech­nique (3m 38s) on his site.

When think­ing of speed read­ing my first reac­tion is not dis­sim­il­ar to Felix Sal­mon’s:

When you read fast and don’t sub­vocal­ize, do you start to miss the art of con­struct­ing or even just appre­ci­at­ing beau­ti­ful sen­tences? Would a speed read­er, for instance, ever be able to write a book like [Nich­olson Baker­’s] U&I?

But this quote from the art­icle made me real­ise that even if you can speed read, you don’t have to speed read:

Final recom­mend­a­tions: If used for study, it is recom­men­ded that you not read 3 assign­ments in the time it would take you to read one, but rather, read the same assign­ment 3 times for expos­ure and recall improve­ment, depend­ing on rel­ev­ancy to test­ing.

I would go one fur­ther and say; If the book is to be read for pleas­ure, don’t speed read. For all oth­er instances, the above applies.