“Bill CosbyÂ may be best-known as the beloved personality behind his eponymous TV show, but he earned his doctorate in education and has been involved in several projects teaching the essential techniques of effective reading, including a PBS series on reading skills. In an essay unambiguously titledÂ â€œHow to Read Faster,â€Â published in the same wonderful 1985 anthologyÂ How to Use the Power of the Printed WordÂ (UK;Â public library) that gave usÂ Kurt Vonnegutâ€™s 8 timeless rules of writing, Cosby offers his three proven strategies for reading faster. Apart from their evergreen application to the printed word, itâ€™s particularly interesting to consider how these rules might translate to the digital screen, where structural factors like scrolling, pagination, hyperlinks, and adjustable font sizes make the text and the reading experience at once more fluid and more rigid.”
The three tips boil down to —
1. Previewing: Read the first two paragraphs, the last two paragraphs, and the first sentence of any paragraphs in between.
2. Skimming: Read very quickly, to pick up a few key words at a time and get the general idea, like so:
3. Clustering. The most important of the three — “word-by-word reading is a rotten way to read faster. It actuallyÂ cuts downÂ on your speed.
ClusteringÂ trains you to look atÂ groupsÂ of words instead of one at a time, and it increases your speed enormously. For most of us, clustering is aÂ totally different way of seeing what we read.
Hereâ€™s how to cluster:Â Train your eyes to seeÂ allÂ the words in clusters of up to three or four words at a glance.”
Nowadays it feels like avoiding distractions are our biggest hurdle when it comes to how fast we read. How well do we avoid distractions while reading?
(I love this picture by the way).