The old adage “so many books, so little time” never seems more real than when you’re staring at a teetering TBR stack. While it’s true that you won’t be able to get through everything you want to read—it’s just the reader’s curse in life—you may want to pick up a few skills to help you read faster so you can get through more books you love! We’ve rounded up a list of ten tips and suggestions to get you reading quickly!
1. Don’t read with a “voice” inside your head.
We’re taught as children to sound out every word, and that often leads to the practice of subvocalization, or reading with a “voice” inside our heads. It may take some practice, but try reading without hearing that voice, and you’ll find that you’ll be reading faster. That’s because our eyes and brains can actually read much faster than our brains can process the spoken word. So it sounds silly, but try not to read with that voice!
To that end, don’t be afraid to skim paragraphs or sentences. Because our brains read so quickly, you’ll find that they don’t need to linger over every single word to get the general gist of a sentence or paragraph. This is especially great for nonfiction, but it works for fiction, too—if you skim something first, then read it again, you’ll be reading it much faster, and with high comprehension.
3. Don’t read word by word.
Along the say lines, don’t read word by word. A lot of sentences are perfectly comprehensible without lingering over every conjunction or preposition, so as long as you know what’s going on, you can keep forging ahead. Also, look for strings of words and phrases that are identifiable by a glance, which is called chunking. If you learn how to read in chunks, you’ll get through sentences and paragraphs much faster.
4. Don’t re-read.
Oftentimes, readers feel guilty that they didn’t read every single sentence, or they might feel like they’re missing out. Experiment with keeping reading and resisting the urge to go back and re-read previous pages. Do you still understand what’s going on? Most of the time, context and what’s on the page mean that you don’t have to take precious time to go back and review something that you already read.
5. Use a reading guide or index card.
If you find that your gaze wanders on the page while reading, use a reading guide or index card to keep you focused on the page. It might mean you need to use both hands to hold open the book and move your guide across the page, but some readers find that a guide helps them focus, and read faster.
6. Give yourself a reading goal.
Oftentimes goals and gamification work wonders for improving reading speed. Start with a reasonable goal, and slowly increase it. Use a timer and see if you can read ten pages in ten minutes. Then try to read ten pages in nine minutes, eight minutes, etc. See how fast you can actually go while maintaining comprehension, and then practice reading at that speed.
7. Play with font and type size.
If you’re an ebook reader, then try playing with the fonts and type size settings on your ereader. Most are very adjustable. Science has shown us that certain fonts are easier for people who have dyslexia to read, and you might find that you read faster on an ereader or with a font that’s different from the default. Some people are find they read faster with larger type size.
8. Add more reading time in your day.
Adding more time in your day to read means that you’ll have more time to practice your reading skills, and many people have discovered that they become faster readers over longer period of time. If you’re able to squeeze in just an extra thirty minutes of reading time each day, you’re not only getting in more consistent practice, but you’ll be reading more and that’s a win!
9. Find an accountability partner.
Sometimes it helps to have an accountability partner in your reading journey. For many, that might be a monthly book club meeting where you’re reading different books and discussing them on a schedule. If you want a greater commitment, consider finding a reading buddy. You don’t necessarily have to read the same books, but perhaps you schedule a weekly check in where you each report on what you’ve read during the week and remind each other of your goals.
10. Outsource your reading choices to a service like TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations!
When you are looking to create more time in your life to read, you don’t want to have to waste time trying to chase down recommendations. That’s where TBR comes in. TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations is a personalized book recommendation service that starts by asking you what you like, dislike, and what you want to read more of. Then, a real power reader called a Bibliologist will recommend three books that they think you’ll love. You can choose to receive your recommendation letter as an email, or get your letter plus the books in hardcover format on your doorstep! You can also give feedback on your recommendations, which will help your Bibliologist find the best picks for you. Plans start at just $16. Learn more and sign up now!
Want more reading and book club resource? Learn how to run a book club, and discover some of the best short book club books.