The Secret to Reading Fast

I’m often asked how I manage to read so many books so fast. If you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll know that I can usually finish a book in under a week. It is true that I read fast, but would you believe me if I told you that I don’t spend all day reading? I don’t sacrifice any enjoyment or immersion, either.

When people give advice on reading fast, it’s usually “Skim over everything as fast as you can! Time yourself so that you never spend more than ten seconds on a page!” or “Take your books with you! Read every spare moment you get throughout the day; on the bus, waiting in line, having a coffee on lunch break. Read all day long.” I’ve come to find both of these to be terrible advice. It might help you finish your book faster, but it takes up too much of your time throughout the day. Even worse, it makes you sacrifice the full, immersive experience of reading a novel. If you can’t feel like you’re there with the characters, there’s hardly a point in reading at all. If you finish a book so fast that you can’t remember what happened, there’s definitely no point in reading it at all.

So what’s my method? It’s pretty simple, actually. When I sit down to read, I never read less than fifty pages in a sitting. Ever. No matter what. I read at my own pace that’s comfortable for me, which allows me to immerse myself in the story. I make sure I don’t put the book down until I’ve knocked out fifty pages in that sitting. Most of the time, I aim for one hundred pages but some days, I’m not feeling well or I’m too exhausted to read that much. On those days, fifty pages does well enough.

How do I find the time to sit down and read that much without interruptions? The key is to pick a time in the day when you don’t have anything else to do for a good long while. This will be different for everyone. For me, it’s an hour or two before bed. I don’t need to go anywhere or see to anything. All that stands between me and my reading is bedtime and reading a book is a great way to wind down for the night. I curl up in bed with the lights off and my book light on and settle in for a nice long reading session. It is my firm belief that a novel cannot be fully enjoyed in less than fifty-page chunks. Any less than that doesn’t allow you to lose yourself in the book. Make sure you pick a time when you have no obligations or responsibilities waiting on you. If you don’t, you’ll end up paying too much attention to the clock. You’ll be worrying about finishing your fifty pages on time which is counterproductive. Finding the right time to do these reading sessions is crucial.

If you pick a good time every day to read fifty pages uninterrupted, you can finish a 350-page novel in about a week. If you’re reading one hundred pages in each sitting, you can finish that same book in 3-4 days. One hundred is better but fifty is fine if you can’t manage one hundred.

The best part about this method for me is that it doesn’t come at the price of immersion. When I read those 50-100 pages, I’m reading at my regular pace because I don’t have a time limit. I don’t need to rush. Whenever I reach my page goal is whenever I’m finished. This gives me the opportunity to soak in what I’m reading even though I’m reading large chunks at a time. I’ve also come to look at those long undisturbed reading sessions as “me time.” It’s enjoyable and I look forward to it every night. It’s a time that I set aside to do something for no reason other than my own personal enjoyment. It’s become a sacred time that I try to avoid sacrificing at all costs. Better yet, it leaves me with plenty of time during the day to handle my other obligations.

I’m not reading constantly, but I am reading every day and when I do read, I make it count. I throw my whole self into it.

If you’re having trouble getting through your to-read list at a brisk pace, give my method a try. I would love to hear about how this worked out for you. Feel free to share your own tips and tricks for keeping your reading pace on track in the comments.

Copyright © 2017 A.A. Frias

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