The average adult in the UK will get through 11 books a year (696 over a lifetime) suggests a poll (OnePoll for eBay UK). But why not 365 books a year. It’s only one book a day. It sounds a lot of books, doesn’t it? Not really, if you apply speed reading techniques. Here’s how to get through 365 books a year – starting from super easy and quick speed reading techniques to more advanced ones.
Warren Buffett was asked about his secret to success. Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will…”
Easy and fast speed reading techniques
1) Read summaries of the books. Yes, it’s a valid way of getting through books. According to research, people who read summaries remember more for longer. Summaries are a valid way to get overviews and specific details. Most people who read a book from cover to cover, forget 90% after two days! Forgetting rate is huge is you don’t use speed reading techniques. Reading summaries you’ll remember more and for longer. It takes usually a few minutes to read a summary of a book or less than 10 seconds if you’re reading only micro-summaries. Check for collections of summaries here
2) Listen to podcasts or authors talking about their books. Most authors are giving short talks about their books. In 30-60 minutes you’ll know everything you need to know about the book.
3) Carry a book with your or on your mobile device so whenever you have a few minutes, standing in a queue or traveling you can be reading. I see more and more people walking and reading books. One needs to be careful but if you apply one of our speed reading techniques, your peripheral vision gets better and better and you can see more.
Advanced speed reading – takes 20 minutes
With our spd rdng techniques, you can speed read a book in a 20-minute session. Most people think it’s not possible because they haven’t tried it and that’s because they’ve been conditioned that it takes long to read books from cover to cover.
Our Spd Rdng acronym stands for:
State Purpose, Download
pReview, Details, Notes, Gist
which covers the most basic speed reading techniques. Our full speed reading system has 37 techniques and skills.
How long does it take to read 365 books a year – a very slow way?
• An average person reads 200-400 words per minute
• A typical non-fiction book has 50,000 words which would take on average two hours to read at 400/wpm (the worst-case scenario four hours at 200/wpm)
365 books x 50,000 words/book = 18250 000 words
18250 000 words / 400 wpm = 45625 minutes
45625 minutes / 60 = 760 hours (about 2 hours/day)
So to read 365 books, you need to spend 760 hours a year reading, which is about two hours a day. You’re thinking, “How am I going to find 760 hours a year / two hours a day to do all this reading?” Well, you may consider watching less TV or spent less time on social media. For example, an average Briton spends almost 10 years of their life watching TV, according to a new poll, that is 27 hours’ worth of television in a week. If you watch only half that time ie 13 hours then in 13 hours you could easily get through 13 books at one hour a book. That’s 676 books/year and you’ll be reading in one year what most Brits read in a lifetime.
But if you spend 20 minutes speed reading a book, you can get through three books in one hour so 365 books would take you only 121 hours. Again, the worst-case scenario, even if it took you just one hour to finish a book, it’s only 365 hours/year.
50 books a day
Out of curiosity, one day (when I was starved of reading – I am a bookaholic), I went to Waterstones bookshop in Piccadilly, London to see how many books I could speed read in a day (about 9 hours – inspired by Joseph Campbell’s reading routine) and went through 50 books, from cover to cover. I was using various speed reading techniques. Most books were five-ten minutes read (using thin slicing technique), some 20-minute read (using rapid reading technique). Most people, can’t imagine it’s possible and therefore wouldn’t even try. I must say I don’t speed read 50 books every day (on average only 10-20/week). Not because it’s difficult, but because I can’t find enough interesting (for me) books to read this year. One of the biggest ‘fears’ of speed readers is to run out of good and interesting books to read.
I’m not saying this to impress you, how many books I can read – I’m saying to impress upon you that anyone can do it – you can too with a speed reading. Most people are surprised to learn that they can easily read a book a day or more.
50 books previewed in 60 min
In another session, I had one hour to preview about 100 books on problem-solving and choose a few top ones for a group of students. Previewing is critical for choosing the best possible book on a subject. I used several different criteria when I was evaluating the books: 1) TOC (table of contents), 2) index, 3) reading a bit to get the style and details, 4) design and layout and how the books were structures for ease of reading. Check out my selection of top books on problem-solving
Joseph Campbell read (probably) over 10 000 books in five years
The author of A Hero With A Thousand Faces, an influential work on comparative mythology that inspired George Lucas to create the Star Wars films, Joseph Campbell was an avid reader and once rented a shack and spend five years reading everything that was of interest to him. He said, “would divide the day into four four-hour periods, of which I would be reading in three of the four-hour periods, and free one of them … I would get nine hours of sheer reading done a day. And this went on for five years straight.” So five years is 1825 days and even if he read only one book a day (9 hours of reading is more than enough for one book) that would allow him to read that many books. How did he find the discipline to do so much reading every day? He said, “Reading what you want, and having one book lead to the next, is the way I found my discipline. I’ve suggested this to many of my students: When you find a writer who really is saying something to you, read everything that writer has written and you will get more education and depth of understanding out of that than reading a scrap here and a scrap there and elsewhere. Then go to people who influenced that writer, or those who were related to him, and your world builds together in an organic way that is really marvelous. Whereas the way these things are taught normally in college and school is a sampler of what this one wrote and that one wrote and you’re asked to be more interested in the date of the publication of Keat’s sonnets than in what’s in them.”
Umberto Eco – 50 000 books
Umberto Eco, an Italian Professor of Semiotics, become a bestselling novelist with his medieval detective story The Name of the Rose – one of many books that influenced my thinking and reading. My micro-summary of this novel: it’s about a book. If I say more, that would be a spoiler. If you don’t have the time to read it slowly for fun, watch the film adaptation of it, starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater. Umberto Eco was a bibliophile and had a library of 50,000 books, as well as of 1,200 rare titles. In The Name of the Rose, he said, “We live for books. A sweet mission in this world dominated by disorder and decay.” – a statement of a true bibliophile. I wish I had his library (I feel like an underachiever with only about 20 000 books). And he also said, “I love the smell of book ink in the morning.” It doesn’t’ work with a Kindle. But he also said, “I’m a writer, not a reader.” so he might have not read all his 50 000 books (maybe only 5000 – check his telling quote below). Interestingly enough, research from environmental psychology suggests that just owning books (and not necessarily reading them) make people happy. I believe that when Umberto Eco died in 2016, at the age of 84, he was a happy man because he lived a very fulfilling life. According to Umberto Eco…
“The person who doesn’t read lives only one life. The reader lives 5,000. Reading is immortality backwards.”