I’m writing this article since I feel that it wasn’t until fairly recently in my life that I really felt I have learned some important things.
I had always been a quick learner in school growing up and especially with computers and technology! I got pretty use to doing well in my jobs and often thought I knew quite a bit to succeed. Unfortunately, I was completely ignorant of a lot of knowledge I was blatantly missing out on. Once I learned about them, they changed my life. These two things I hold great value in now, were learning to control my sleep to maximize my life, and learning to read. That’s right, learning to read. I’m got a post lined up about the sleep topic I’ll get online in the next few days. This post however, is about learning to read.
Its not that I literally didn’t know how to read, I just couldn’t read well. I never enjoyed books because I couldn’t keep my focus on them so my mind would wander and I would find myself daydreaming and thinking of other things. So, I would either simply get frustrated by the book and stop or wouldn’t get anything out of the book since I couldn’t stay focused on it. So, this led me to not reading a single book after high school until I was about 28. Sure, I read lots of short articles and magazines and things online, I just would never sit down and read. Then it all changed. I started listening to a few motivational speakers (Steven Covey and Brian Tracy come to mind) and they each recommended LOTS of reading. So, I went online and did some research about the average reader and found out that not only was I reading less than any averages I could find, I also found out about the huge variation in reading speeds. I took a simple speed reading online test online and was at an appauling reading speed of only 175 words per minute. This shocked me so I kept doing research. I found out my slow reading speed was preventing my reading from keeping my mind active and stimulated by the content so it would wander and focus on other thoughts and things in my surrounding, even while reading. I learned that by reading faster, I could actually increase my comprehension of what I read and that many people claimed that books would be more enjoyable and memorable if you read them at a faster rate (faster than my slow rate that is).
So, I wanted to speed up my reading so found some online articles and got several books and started practicing and learning to read faster. It only took about 2 months to get my reading speed up to 400 wpm and after about 6 months I regularly (and still do) read consistently at about 500-600 wpm. So, there are many techniques about doing this, which this post is not going to cover, but I wanted to post since learning to read well has drastically changed my life. I read over 20 books that first year and already another 30+ this year and I can say one thing for sure, I now LOVE to read. I read stuff I really enjoy, I have great comprehension from my reading and I can easily keep my mind focused on a book which I could never do before. I am still improving my speed and have a goal to get to a consistent reading speed of 750 wpm.
I’m shocked and appalled now that I know how to read well, that reading is taught so poorly school. Schools generally teach children how to recognize words, say them out loud and train them to sound them out and say them aloud. This is one of the most common reading problems that many people (like me) don’t get over naturally. Its called sub-vocalizing which means you actually activate your voice box while reading which inhibits your reading speed to the limit of your speech, which is quite slow indeed. I would have been able to gain so much more knowledge if I learned to read well at a young age instead of just recently. It is such an important skill, the education system should really test children’s reading speeds for years after they learn to read and write and teach the various methods to practice improving reading speed and comprehension. Its amazing that education gets so focused on topics with little impact and don’t really finish teaching things that can have such a huge impact on one’s life long education and knowledge.
I encourage you to test your speed (and tell others you know to check this as well) and if you suffer from slow reading, follow up and improve your reading skills. Its definitely one of the best things I ever learned! I also love sharing it with others and helping them to also improve their reading skills. What are some of your most important things you have ever learned and want to share?
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