How can I read fast, and still comprehend what I am reading? How can I read fast, and still comprehend what I am reading?  

Expert Answers
jseligmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm going to be contrary here and say it right out: you can't and don't. You can not read fast and comprehend everything the writer intended, and you shouldn't even try.

Now, understand where I am coming from: I have never, in my life, read anything light. Although I read for enjoyment as well as edification, I don't read anything but good lterature: works that have been written to be read word for word, works that need to be digested, savored and pondered. All of that takes time; it cannot and should not be rushed. I have no idea why anyone would, by choice, want to zip through Shakespeare, or Sartre, or Kafka or Conrad or Homer or Sophocles. Oh, I know about schools and teachers who pile on reading until you get dizzy, but to my way of thinking, that's a complete disservice to the art and intent of literature. That's about reading a lot, not about reading well.

I've always believed that if a writer took the time to think about every word he or she wrote, you, the reader, the absorber, have the obligation (and should have the respect) to give each word the weight, the empasis and the intent that the writer had in mind. Otherwise, you're not really reading.

Okay, I have said my peace. Now the proponents of speed reading can have their say... now we return you to your regularly scheduled program...

coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You can sometimes save yourself of wasted reading by precisely concentrating on the salient points only, if that's what you are trying to achieve. This is more difficult with literature texts on,for example, the English syllabus, but if you are studying other subjects this method saves wasted time. For example, say your tutor wants you to read up about a certain event in relation to an assignment question. You will probably have some of the background you need from previous exams and studies, so when you research and find the book you need, do not read the whole book. Draw conscientiously on the knowledge you already have (say, American history in relation to the race riots) and use good sources and quotes. Then read closely the relevant chapters and tie in carefully to your essay.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many different methods taught and used for speed reading, and most involve skimming lines diagonally with your eyes and looking for nouns and verbs.  Start reading relatively slowly using this method until you get the hang of reading a different way, and after a short while your brain is "retrained" to pick up on the order of the words and you get the basic ideas and concepts of what you're reading without having to read every line.

If you are reading academic books, you can look for boldface words, section headings, proper names of people or events, and italicized book or court case titles.  Again, you can get the major points without having to read every word.  It's a good trick to learn for college too.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like any other skill, the more you read, the better you’ll get. That being said, I would suggest that you survey the material you need to read first. Look for anything that might be a clue as to what is important: headings, bold words and phrases, pictures, quotes, and etc. Make predictions before you begin reading about those things you expect to learn from the reading. As you read, your mind will be more focused and inquisitive, and consequently your reading should progress faster because you are more focused.

booksnmore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In college, as an English major, I took a class on speed reading. Certain techniques can help you to become a faster reader as poster #2 described. I found, however, that my reading speed (already fast) could not increase without significant loss to my comprehension. That said, I suppose it depends on how slow you read to begin other words, in some people, I suppose a little speed reading instruction might go a long way. You might google "speed reading" for more detailed information.

coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you find reading tiring and difficult, add some variety and relaxation for your brain by sometimes changing the way it takes in information. Get audio books for the car or room, try the Kindle as they are easier on the eyes, use downloads and podcasts to listen when you are travelling. make brief notes if you like to refer to later. This information is just as valuable as what you read - do both!

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am a speed reader myself, and when I learned it back in the day, was by using my index finger, and (not second guessing yourself), run through the sentences allowing your eyes to recognize all the familiar verbs and nouns. Your brain needs closure and will make the connections automatically. Like I said, just do not double guess yourself or you will lose track. Go with the flow.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Reading is like any other skill, the more you do it the better you get at it. I am not sure why you are so concerned with reading faster, however I would be more concerned about reading at a pace where you can comprehend what you are reading and be comfortable with it.

marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think I'm going to have to agree with #3.  I love to read and absorb every word I come across, savor it, bounce it around in my mind, and then think about what I've read.  That's the best kind of reading and does justice to the author.


cold | Student

thank you so much for posting this

I actually thought that I only had this problem

am going to try this out !!!!!!

satchell | Student

most time i actually find it diffucult