I have always loved reading. I have also always been a verrrrry, verrrrry slow reader. When I was in college I bought a paperback book titled Faster Reading Self-Taught. Unfortunately, I couldn’t wade through it. I had no better results with a speed reading course I took. My reading rates and comprehension at the beginning and end of the course were practically the same.
An article in the BBC news magazine entitled, “How Could I Read More Books?” gives some information about reading rates of famous people (Agatha Christie read 200 books a year and Theodore Roosevelt could read a book or more in a day), and offers some helpful hints about how one might read faster. It’s an interesting article, and I recommend it to you.
I want to supplement the advice offered in the article with my own suggestions – suggestions that have allowed me to complete 11 books already this year. In 2015 by comparison I read a total of only 21 books during the entire year. Two things have changed: I have gotten away from physical books (somewhat), and I have a new definition for the word “read.”
I have occasionally read a book on my iPad, but since I bought a Kindle Paperwhite a month or so ago, I’ve been reading more and more books electronically. The Kindle has a few advantages over my iPad and my iPhone: It is so light that you can comfortably hold it with one hand, you can adjust the screen’s brightness so as to read it in total darkness without eye strain, and you can read it as easily when the sun is shining on the screen as you can in the dark.
The second big change is that I am now “reading” audio books more and more, and wasting time less and less by severely limiting the time I watch TV. Those two things when coupled together represent the biggest change in my habits and make my days vastly more productive. (When I want to see something on TV, I normally record it and zip through the commercials and segments of programs that don’t interest me.) When I get up in the morning I normally brew a cup of coffee, putter around the house for a while, watch TV for a bit (usually hearing the same news I heard the night before – plus an endless string of commercials), and just generally try to wake up and plan my day. Now I put my iPhone in my shirt pocket with an audio book playing and follow my usual routine minus the wasted TV time. I also listen to books while I’m exercising, while driving, and any other time when I have as little as 10 or 15 minutes to kill.
The main source for my audio books is my local public library. My library (and probably yours, too) gives me access to loads of free audio books (each book is checked out for 21 days) through Overdrive and One Click Digital. You can also borrow ebooks as well from those two sources. Project Gutenberg gives you access to ebooks versions of thousands of books that are in the public domain, and Librivox offers recordings of many of the same books. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble offer many public domain books either free or for a dollar or so to anyone who has their free ereader apps (Kindle and Nook, respectively). I have both apps on my laptop, my iPad, and my iPhone.
My one resolution for 2016 is to spend my time more productively. Since books are such an important part of my life, I resolve to do whatever I can to enjoy more of them. I hope you’ll do the same.