Thoughts on How to Read, and Why

Sandra Dodd

I have something Marin Holmes wrote on reading fast and her school-trained feeling that fast was good. This reminds me of the question of whether juggling three balls elegantly and with originality is inferior to juggling five balls, which is here, with video links.

Is speed reading good? What IS "reading"? It's not such an easy question. School measures reading speed and comprehension separately. If it's possible to read without comprehension, then I can read Spanish and French and maybe German. I haven't tried, but if I could sound out German at a pretty fair clip, would that be reading? What if I could just run my eyes left to right, line by line, and THINK the sounds, of German. Would that be reading?
My little story about speed reading...
When I was in school I could read something like 2,000 words per minute, with about an 85% comprehension rate. I still read really fast, which is good for scanning e-mails, getting through online message boards quickly, things like that. When I am reading for pleasure, though, I read slowly, re-reading paragraphs, savouring the words, turning them over and over in my mind, until either I find a place to store them there, or they are decided unimportant to me and disposed of. To me fluent reading is KNOWING what you're reading and WHY you're reading it. Or something like that. ; )

Ria (riasplace3...)

When I was a kid in the 1960's, there were advertisements everywhere for Evelyn Wood Speed Reading. It's still there, and the site says "Finish the newspaper in five or ten minutes. Page through magazines, reports, and trade publications in record time. Polish off entire books in one sitting."

If one "polished off" Pride and Prejudice in one sitting, she would miss descriptions of countryside, and clothes. If one polished off Lord of the Rings, I'm sure he would have missed Tolkien's descriptions of sounds and thoughts.

At speed-reading rates, no doubt some people finished this page LONG ago, two seconds, went on to other things. Comprehension? "Speed reading courses still exist; some people don't know what speed reading is good for."

Good enough for some.

If life is all competition, then finishing first is "winning," when the stopwatch is out. But what if the goal is thinking new thoughts, and enjoying the artistry of someone else's words? What if it were museums we were talking about? Would moving through an art museum and seeing all the paintings and sculptures in fifteen minutes be better than if it took two hours? What if someone could train you to retain memories of what you had seen, and to comprehend it, even though you had walked as fast as you possibly could have and looked as briefly as possible at what took the artist months or years to create? Would you "win"?

Forget the hoity-toitiness of da Vinci and Jane Austen. How about a car show? If you run through the lot and see all the restored antique cars faster than anyone else EVER HAS, are you better at going to car shows than those who look closely at details and talk to the owners?

Whether it's novels, newspapers, magazines, or just any materials, reading can be very relaxing, interesting and often, breathtaking.
That was offered at another speed reading site, Speed Reading Monster Course. If someone doesn't read well enough to be fluent, reading won't be very relaxing or breathtaking, that's true. Maybe the speed reading courses are more to get people who went to school and were told they could read to the point that they're ACTUALLY reading in a fluent and relaxing way. The link is gone; their pamphlet is now part of a larger, expensive package, so sorry I can't show where the quote lives anymore.

More thoughts? Write here: Sandra@SandraDodd.com

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The Hildebrandt art is from this site: http://www.lordotrings.com/artmedia.asp