How to improve your reading speed?

01Yesterday, I got an email asking me about if I can give some tips to help the sender to read faster, as he would like to improve his reading. Reading has become a very crucial part of my life in the last 5 years. First of all, I like reading. And at the same time reading motivates me a lot, indeed. I can be all alone the whole day, reading a book. Yet, more importantly, reading is not only just to broaden my knowledge about this world, it also help me to keep an open mind as well. As the more I read, the more I know that I don’t know a lot.

One day about 4 years ago, I learned that one of my co-workers could read 52 books a year. That inspired me a lot. And I started challenging myself to see if I can be a great reader like him. I went through the process, asked some more advices from my friends and mentors. And now, in average, I can read between 50-60 books per year. Not bad, right?

Here in this blog post, I would like to share what I have sent back to the sender of the email I got yesterday. If you are looking for the same question, you may find this helpful.

With regarding to reading…, there is not much of a magic. Here is what works for me. 

  • To read faster, you just have to keep reading :). That’s the practice. The first year, you may start to challenge yourself to finish 12 books/year, then 24, then 36 and more… It’s up to your progress.
  • Focus: If you read 4 books about one topic, for example leadership, then it’s much faster to read the 5th one about leadership. As the base knowledge is not that different, it’s more about the different perspectives from authors’ views. So, the more you read focusing on one topic, the faster you would gain once reading books, articles about that topic again.
  • Alternative to reading: Literally, to read a book, you would have to … read. Yet, currently, there are audio versions of the books too. For me, as I am reading a lot books about Buddhism, I also found a lot of great free audio books about Buddhism, with the same titles of the paper book. So, what I do is that I listen whenever I can, on the car, on the bus, 30 mins before the sleep (30 mins can be equal to 20 pages reading). That can help you to leverage reading time better.
  • Skim reading: This is the skill I found useful (I learned it from my mentor), especially, after reading the topic for awhile. Usually, once writing, the author tends to put into paragraphs quite many redundant info to build the context. For example, he/she may want to paint a beautiful picture about the place, the time, the wind, the traffic, before jumping into the main point. You can skim through those info. As it doesn’t really add up to the main point. And many times, it takes about 80% of the text for those redundant info.

So, those are the four that I would suggest you to think about, if you really want to improve your reading. Hope it helps. 

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