Spritz is a speed reading app launched recently – or ‘reading, reimagined’ as they’ve trademarked on ther. It basically flashes up one word at a time, at faster speeds than you would otherwise read, to enable you to get to 1000 words per minute (wpm). You can try it at the site. I’ll wait.
I’ve tried other speedreading things before – there’s an app called Acceleread which I played with for a while, and got my wpm up to about 550 or so. Your reading is generally slow because you ‘speak’ the words out in your head, one at a time, as you go through them. This slows you down to ‘talking speed’ (kind of) as you read it out to yourself in your head. By flashing the words up on the screen – or by using some more traditional speed reading techniques – you override this, and begin to see the words and recognise them without speaking them out internally.
A few ways of doing this without the app:
- Follow a pencil along the lines, gradually increasing the speed
- Quieten the voice in your head which reads the words out as you do – I found that counting in my head helped this
- Rather than reading one word at a time, grab three or four in one go, chunking a sentence into 3 groups and reading them in three steps, rather than one word at a time.
Whilst I had some success with this technique, I found that it’s not something I enjoy using at all. It’s good for quickly digesting some information at work, for instance, or an article about something. But if you’re reading to enjoy, why speed this process up? The point is to lose yourself in a book, or to learn, reflect, write in the margin, pause and watch the world go by – not to race to the finish as quickly as possible. This makes reading a chore, something which should be got over as soon as possible. What about re-reading a paragraph because the way it was written filled you with joy? The way that sometimes a writer says exactly what you think way better than you ever could, and you get that thrill of recognition of something inside you which someone else has phrased so perfectly, and so you read again and again and savour the construction of the sentences. Pausing to laugh, or think, reflect or feel - is there no time for this any more? When reading non-fiction I often need to re-read, or go back, or underline a sentence, or think further about how I could apply or use what I’ve read. I’m reading a bit of philosophy at the moment, and I can’t imagine speeding through this – quite the opposite.
I think it’s missing the point somewhere.