One of the goals you set for this year is to read more books, but you have no idea of how to do it. Don’t worry. For your luck, that’s one of the most important topics of this blog.
I’m gonna start with five simple ways to improve your reading. And this is not bullshit. They work.
At least for me… the bearded guy who reads and writes. The best part is that everything I’m gonna tell you now is free (one of them can even help you save money, to be honest) and you can start as soon as you finish this post.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into the five simple ways you can improve your reading.
1. DEFINE A PURPOSE
The first thing you want to do is define why you’re going to read. If that’s hard for you. We usually read because of three major reasons: inspiration, education, and entertainment.
This is important because, once you define why you’re reading, the act of reading becomes intentional and meaningful. Your brain understands that you’re putting effort into something valuable, not just a random activity. You create a mindset or a set of conditions for your brain to enjoy what you read.
Reading for inspiration will open your mind for learning successful stories and pondering important lessons. Reading for education will keep your mind focused to find the information you need to learn. Reading for entertainment will tell your brain that you’re doing it to relax and have a good time.
So, define a purpose to read.
2. PLAN YOUR READING SESSIONS
You can’t just let your mood decide when it’s time to read. This will automatically turn you into that kind of person who says that they don’t read much because they can’t find time for it.
We don’t find time for what’s important. We MAKE time. And we do that by setting an alarm every day to dedicate ourselves to nothing but reading for, let’s say, 20 minutes.
You can choose any time of the day. You may want to become one of those crazy 5-am-rising people, or you can just set a few minutes after lunch for that. The important is to make time for reading.
So, plan reading sessions.
3. READ IN CLUSTERS
This is not that simple, but hear me out. Reading word by word is not only boring, it’s also bad for understanding what you read.
Our eyes are capable of reading chunks of words at a glance, did you know that? So try to read a group of 3 to 5 words at a time. Then go for 7 to 9 words when you’re comfortable with it.
You can also focus on sentences and try to look at small sentences at a time. You’ll see a huge improvement.
Don’t skim, focus on the group of words and read them together! Your brain will thank you for that, and you’ll read a lot faster.
Yea, read in clusters.
4. READ ACTIVELY
Now, we tend to read passively all the time. We let the words flood our brains through our eyes, and we do nothing about it. That’s what makes reading overwhelming sometimes.
Don’t do that. Ask questions instead, and try to find the answers while you read. Make a list. Make a checklist of what you expect to find in the text. Or write a set of questions about the story. Like, who’s the old lady calling Tom? Why is she calling him? And who’s Tom? I mean, really, who is he?
Anyway, similarly to “define a purpose to read”, reading actively drives your brain to stop wandering idly between words and sentences. Thus, reading suddenly becomes a fascinating quest until the final word of the book.
5. DON’T LISTEN TO SPEED READING GURUS
Finally, there’s a hundred books on speed reading and millions of courses online promising you that they will turn you into a fast reader who can read more than 1000 words per minute. That means you’ll read 200 pages in 50 minutes.
Don’t bother. I can give you that course for free. They say you have to eliminate subvocalization (the voice inside your head), use a pointer to read, and they tell you to skim and scan the text.
So, first, you’re welcome. Now you can spend that money on more books instead or anything else you like.
Second, it’s scientifically proven that anything beyond 500-600 words per minute sacrifices comprehension, eliminating subvocalization completely is impossible and even bad for reading, and skimming and scanning is just lazy. You should do that only if you already read something, and you want to find something quickly in the text.
The truth is that reading speed is different from person to person, as they are different for each kind of text.
Also, remember, reading is not a competition. And if you ask me if you won a competition by reading 200 pages faster than anyone but without understanding everything, and without enjoying the book, to me, you’d be the loser not the winner.
So, read at your pace in a way you feel comfortable and understand everything you read, and forget about speed reading techniques.
I hope you become a better reader after this. To sum everything up, I told you to:
- Define a purpose to read
- Plan reading sessions
- Read in clusters
- Read actively
- Read at your pace
Now, for the comment session:
What did I forget? What else can make you read better?