Are you adding books to your to-be-read pile faster than you’re actually reading them? There is actually a Japanese word for that – tsundoku, literally meaning buying books and letting them pile up. Luckily, there are several things you can do to defeat tsundoku and become a faster reader.
1. Skim and scan
Your brain can make sense of large blocks of texts more quickly than you realize. It might sound counter-intuitive to quickly go over the text you’re about to read as a way of improving your reading speed, but previewing what you’re going to read beforehand gives you context and lets you know what to expect, like watching a trailer before a movie would.
2. Concentrate on the text
One way of taking more in when you’re reading is by minimizing distractions before you sit down with your book. Try to minimize interruptions and distracting background noise beforehand, and be aware when your mind starts wandering off from the text so you can calmly bring your attention back to your book.
3. Don’t read every word
Because your brain picks up context clues from large blocks of text pretty quickly, forcing yourself to pay attention to every single word in a paragraph can be quite time-consuming and distracting. Instead, you should move your eyes in a scanning motion across the sentences, taking advantage of your peripheral vision and paying less attention to the beginning and end of each line.
4. Stop subvocalizing
Speaking the words you’re reading to yourself in your head slows your reading down by quite a lot. Be mindful when you subvocalize and try to refrain from it – try to put on some background music when you read. If you manage to silence that little voice in your head, your reading speed could double!
5. Don’t re-read
Are you in the habit of getting fixated on a paragraph that you’ve struggled to take in at least three times to no avail? This isn’t actually a good way of improving reading comprehension or understanding your reading material.
If anything, speaking from personal experience, it’ll just ruin your reading experience and make you more likely to give up on the book. Instead, let yourself skip paragraphs here and there. They might make sense in context later in the book.
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