With 2022 coming to an end and 2023 now upon us, I thought I would reflect on a great tool that I have been using that leaves me feeling that I am going into 2023 with some momentum. I also had a couple of insights that I applied toward the end of the year that I will target to discuss in next week’s blog.
For anyone that has read my blog, it’s obvious that I’m a big reader. Like most people who love to read, I would love to be able to read faster without losing comprehension so that I can read more, whether it be articles, blog posts, or books.
When it comes to books, I now read all of them on my Kindle or the Kindle app. A few months ago, I read a book on speed reading, and after completing it, I researched online to find tools to help me improve in this area. I learned that the Kindle app has a tool called Word Runner, which allows the reader to set a word speed, and then the app calibrates to this by firing one word at a time across the screen to match that speed. What a game-changer that tool has been! It has really improved my concentration, speed, and even comprehension.
In the course of my research, I also discovered a similar tool for online via accelareader.com. It uses the same approach as Word Runner to allow for a much faster read of articles I find online. I copy and paste the material (yes, including ads, but it’s very manageable when that text appears), and I’m able to read articles much more quickly. I now find myself seeking out longer material to read since I can get through them much more quickly. One site that is good for longer links is abnormalreturns.com, as it has some compelling articles that can be interesting and insightful. One day each week, it focuses on long-form links, which is now right up my alley.
I have found myself extremely interested in the Ukraine War, so I have subscribed to Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy which tend to have very long articles, often in excess of 3,000 words. They cover the war and many other pertinent issues in the realm of geopolitics. I’m no longer intimidated when contemplating reading these now that I can copy and paste them into accelareader. I welcome getting their emails notifying me of their latest articles to carve out the time to work through them.
I put Word Runner on the Kindle to really good use between Christmas and New Year’s as I read five books that week, including a work of fiction which is something I haven’t done in a while. I thought reading fiction would be great to try using Word Runner since I would be less inclined to interrupt the flow by highlighting the text, which I love to do on my Kindle so I can go back to review them. In addition, I also thought that fiction would probably have a more natural flow and easier comprehension potential unless there are a lot of characters and very dense language, as one might find in books by Willaim Faulkner or Leo Tolstoy.
I read the book Lessons in Chemistry, and I must say that I felt I could follow along with the plot and the character development. I would classify the experiment with fiction as a success, and I look forward to reading more now that I have broken the ice. I thought the book was excellent. It was close to 400 pages, and I was done with it in less than two days. And since then, I’ve been able to bump my speed up to 550 words per minute, allowing me to read approximately 2.2 pages per minute. This is dramatically faster than I could read before using this tool. From time to time, I would return to normal reading to make sure I was following the plot and I knew who the characters were. This would allow me to anchor myself to the story to form a new foundation before returning to Word Runner. Plus, it’s nice to take a little break from the rapid speed to slow down and absorb the work at a more leisurely pace. It’s like going through a museum fairly rapidly and then stopping to more thoroughly observe and internalize works of art for which I want to derive a greater understanding and feel.
The tradeoff when using Word Runner, especially for a non-fiction book, is that the focus on speed takes away the desire and inclination to highlight text so that there will be less to review when I return to the book in the future. With that being said, one of the books I read was about Bruce Lee called Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee written by his daughter Shannon. What I learned was that, as long as my comprehension was solid and something really jumped out at me, then I would latch on to that nugget, stop Word Runner and go ahead and highlight the relevant passage. Of course, it slowed down my reading, but it was well worth it as it gave me a higher bar to select passages to highlight, as my desire was not to interrupt my reading flow and momentum that I had built up while still wanting to capture powerful passages. Hopefully, at the end of the day, I achieved the best of both worlds: faster comprehension and far more impactful highlights to return to at a later time.
One of the interesting things I have learned when reading articles via the speed reader is that when all is said and done, most pieces, even the very long ones, only have a few key points that the authors are ultimately trying to convey. Of course, there is a lot of supportive writing that helps to elucidate what they want to communicate to the reader, but at the end of the day, I have learned that it’s fairly easy to summarize these points in just a few sentences. Doing this is also a good test of my recall of these articles and whether I could ascertain their very critical points and hypotheses.
In addition to Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy, I have read many articles from WSJ.com, Bloomberg.com, Barrons, the New York Times, and Washington Post via accelareader.com. I feel like I’m better informed; it strengthens my brain and makes me eagerly want to read longer articles versus feeling a bit of dread about tackling even though I think I should. Now I read them because I want to and with enthusiasm.
Here are a few of the articles I’m looking forward to reading with my newly discovered tool.
It’s nice to take on a new challenge and develop additional skills, especially when the payoff is so high in terms of greater reading capacity and comprehension. I know many of my blog posts can be quite long, and I wonder how accessible they are for most people. I do get enough feedback from people. However, that leads me to believe that there are people who do read them from beginning to end, although I’m not that arrogant or naive to believe that this represents a large percentage of the readers. With accelareader, however, the dreamer in me can now envision thousands of people copying my posts, pasting them into the tool, and voila, they’re done with it in less than three minutes! What a great vision for 2023 🙂
I hope you had a very joyous new year and only wish you health and happiness for 2023.