Monday, January 17, 2022

The Speed Reading vs. Slow Reading Showdown: One Reader’s Adventure

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There are few issues I take pleasure in greater than savoring a very good, well-written ebook. After taking in a very lovely sentence or spending some high quality time with a fancy character, I like to pause and let what I simply learn heat my insides like a cup of recent tea on a wintery day. This is what makes an incurable bookworm like myself the happiest. On the opposite hand, the factor that makes me probably the most unhappy? Knowing that there’ll by no means be sufficient time in my lifetime to find all of the books I would fall in love with, not to mention, learn them.

Most of the time, somewhat than dwelling on this bookish conundrum, I simply settle for the paradox. But lately, I used to be offered with an attention-grabbing concept: pace studying. Although the idea has been round for some time, for those who seek for it on Google, you’ll discover loads of lately printed articles, seminars, and movies about how pace studying can assist you learn extra of the hundreds of books printed every year along with the entire content material that pops up on our units each day. 

So, may pace studying be a legitimate resolution to my “so many books, so little time” quandary? While my instincts tended to agree with the criticism round pace studying’s lofty guarantees, I figured I had nothing to lose. So, I made a decision to learn a complete ebook, alternating between studying at my common pace, pace studying, and deliberate sluggish studying, which, apparently, has additionally been a preferred matter on-line. I used to be going to learn anyway — why not see if there was a greater approach to do it?

The Method

After doing some research on each pace studying and sluggish studying methods, I made a decision on a number of the parameters of my experiment:

Book Selection

Since pace studying proponents promise that their methods assist readers soak up important data rapidly, I needed to decide on a ebook that might provide loads of new data. At the identical time, I needed to decide on an creator with a fascinating and well-crafted writing type that I take pleasure in as a way to benefit from the reflective high quality of sluggish studying.

The profitable ebook? Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell, a nonfiction ebook I hadn’t beforehand learn, however written by an creator whose work I’ve beforehand loved.

Speed Reading Techniques

To save time:

  • Avoid talking the phrases in my head as I’m studying.
  • Read every line utilizing the “third word rule”: Read solely what’s between the third phrase into the road and the third phrase earlier than the top of the road. Let my peripheral imaginative and prescient absorb the remaining. 
  • Fight the urge to return and reread.
  • Don’t cease to lookup phrases I don’t know.

To keep targeted:

  • Track the phrases with my finger or a straight edge to stop my eyes from wandering across the web page.

Slow Reading Techniques

To totally soak up and respect the content material:

  • Read some passages out loud
  • Jot down my ideas within the margins
  • Take pressured breaks to digest, respect the writing, or visualize a scene
  • Let the concepts I learn take me on thought tangents
  • Allow myself to google extra details about the individuals or in regards to the incidents within the ebook

Comparison Technique

I made a decision to alternate studying tempo with every chapter (13 chapters complete together with the introduction) on this order: common tempo, pace studying tempo, sluggish studying tempo. As a lot as attainable, I attempted to learn a set of all three paces in a single sitting.

THE EQUIPMENT: the ebook, a straight-edge/folded clean paper for pace studying, a pen for sluggish studying, and a cup of tea for each pace of studying.

The Journey

As I started the ebook’s introduction at my common studying tempo, I used to be instantly invested. Gladwell promised to make me assume extra deeply in regards to the methods we use to translate the phrases and intentions of individuals we don’t know — and the way that impacts our lives and the world. Plus, he can be writing about how these methods performed roles in lots of well-known incidents such because the loss of life of Sandra Bland, the Bernie Madoff scandal, the trial of Amanda Knox, and Sylvia Plath’s loss of life by suicide. I used to be able to dive in.

First up: pace studying. I spent a lot of my first pace chapter making an attempt to determine which methods have been and weren’t going to work for me. I rapidly realized that monitoring phrases with my finger did nothing to assist my eyes cease wandering across the web page, however {that a} straight edge did. Still, I used to be tense — distracted not solely by preventing my pure urges to return and reread sentences to make clear what I’d simply learn, but additionally by my perfectionism: Am I doing this proper? Did I unintentionally communicate that phrase aloud in my head? Was that the third or fourth phrase in? Wait, what did I simply miss whereas I used to be pondering that? It was this type of perfectionism that made me drop the “third word rule” after a few web page of studying. 

At the top of my pace studying chapter, I exhaled in reduction. I wasn’t exhausted by how a lot data I’d taken in, however by my very own diligence to do every part precisely proper. True, I felt like I’d gotten the gist of the content material — particularly since I’d rapidly picked up on Gladwell’s tendency to sum up and make clear an concept after he’d explored it. This helped me loosen up, figuring out that if I missed it the primary time, I’d get the prospect to learn it once more. Still, I made a decision to present myself a break and never get so hung up on doing every part completely the following time.

Slow studying the following chapter felt luxurious. As a end result, I most likely slowed down much more than I’d have if I hadn’t simply sped via the earlier chapter. I learn each footnote. I ended to do an interactive exercise, which was serendipitously positioned on this explicit chapter. I learn aloud generally and paused after each vignette to understand the story and visualize the scene. I appeared up Neville Chamberlain’s {photograph} together with the images of each different historic determine in that chapter. I googled “guayabera” and scrolled via a number of pictures of various colours and kinds as a result of somebody in considered one of his vignettes was sporting one. I used to be relishing each second.

But then, one thing unusual occurred. The a part of my persona that’s hooked on excessive attaining and productiveness began kicking in and I started to be very conscious of how lengthy it was taking me to get via a chapter. Although I used to be studying a print ebook, I discovered myself questioning what my Kindle would inform me about share learn and time left if it have been an book. The largest shock of all was when this thought fashioned in my head: If I have been pace studying, I’d be accomplished with this chapter by now. It appeared my persona was now distracting me from sluggish studying a lot the best way it did after I was pace studying.

Once once more, I used to be relieved to complete a chapter and change to a special tempo. It was throughout this chapter that I seen one thing attention-grabbing about my common studying: I used to be subconsciously incorporating pace studying and sluggish studying methods, not as a result of I’d simply realized about them, however as a result of that was simply how I naturally learn. I instinctively skim sure passages — like prolonged lists of particular examples which are illustrating the identical factor. I let my very own curiosity information me in relation to pausing and reflecting, which feels way more natural than forcing myself to do it at common intervals.

As I continued alternating studying paces via the remainder of the ebook, I seen just a few different issues:

  • It was simpler to get the gist of the content material in pace chapters when it was about incidents with which I already had some familiarity, equivalent to Amanda Knox’s trial. On the opposite hand, after I needed to pace learn via the chapter on Sylvia Plath’s life, whereas I didn’t thoughts skimming the painful particulars of her precise suicide, I knew I used to be going to return to reread the excerpts of her poetry that Gladwell included in addition to replicate on this concept: “Something about writing poetry appears either to attract the wounded or to open new wounds.”
  • Content additionally affected my sluggish studying methods. It felt uncomfortable to pressure myself to spend extra time with the disturbing particulars in regards to the abuse accusations towards Jerry Sandusky in addition to these surrounding Brock Turner’s trial. At the identical time, I used to be glad to have extra time to consider Gladwell’s insights on those self same occasions.
  • I started to suspect there wasn’t a lot distinction between my common studying tempo and my sluggish studying tempo, apart from my first slow-reading chapter, which was slower in response to my jarring, first-time speed-reading expertise. So, after pace studying a 19-page chapter in 13 minutes, I made a decision to time the identical variety of pages for sluggish and common paces. As I suspected, for 19 pages, there was solely a two-minute distinction between my sluggish studying (27 minutes) and my common studying (25 minutes).

The Conclusion

It seems pace studying isn’t going to unravel my studying FOMO. I really like savoring sentences, tales, and characters an excessive amount of. And deliberate sluggish studying received’t assist improve my expertise way more both. In each circumstances, my perfectionism prevents me from having fun with studying in any means apart from what involves me naturally. I’d say that it would rely upon the subject and writing type, however as a result of lately, I typically solely learn books that I take pleasure in, it doesn’t actually matter. 

I’m glad I gave pace studying and deliberate sluggish studying a attempt, however I really feel no must do it once more any time quickly. I’m comfortable to embrace the identical sort of nuanced and sophisticated emotion I like to examine: the unresolvable stress between the euphoria of “so many books” and the heartbreak of “so little time.”

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