Women are not only great readers, speed readers but also keener buyers of fiction – accounting for 80% of sales of fiction in the UK, US and Canadian. Surveys show that more women than men are literary festivalgoers, library members, audiobook readers, literary bloggers and members of literary societies and evening reading classes. And women teach children to read, both at school and at home and women who set up book clubs. In our speed reading courses though, on average, the ratio is about 50-50.
“When women stop reading, the novel will be dead.” said Ian McEwan when in 2005, he conducted an experiment in parks where he handed out books to strangers. Men rejected them while women gratefully accepted the novels.
“Questionnaire about Women’s Fiction Reading” at the end of the book offers useful insights about your reading preferences, habits and why you read and how.
1. When did you learn to read, who taught you, and what is your earliest memory of reading?
2. Do you recall the children’s books you read, and which remain in your heart?
3. Were you encouraged or taught to read by parents, siblings, teachers, friends? Was your earliest reading teacher male or female?
4. Have your parents, partner(s), children, and friends encouraged and supported your reading habit? Has it sometimes been a secret or illicit pleasure?
5. Did/do you read religious/sacred texts, e.g. the Koran, the Bible? How important are these to you?
6. Do you read poetry, and if so which poets and poems are most special to you?
7. Have you read all your life, or have you had periods when you read little or nothing (perhaps in hard or challenging times)—or just newspapers, comics, magazines, etc.?
8. How has your education formed and influenced your reading—at school, further education college, evening class, university, etc.?
9. Did you read ‘set books’ at school and/or college and do you recall and cherish (or now hate) them? Please give examples.
10. Do you read every day, and if so at what time? Do you read at bedtime, and is that choice of reading matter different from other times of day?
11. Do you buy fiction regularly? At a bookshop or online?
12. Do you borrow books from a library or libraries? How often?
13. Would it matter to you if your local library and/or bookshop closed down? Why?
14. Do you read fast or slowly, and do you ever abandon books before finishing?
15. Do you read from the beginning of a book, or sneak a look at the ending first?
16. How do you choose what to read, and do you read more than one book at a time?
17. Have you chosen fiction because you saw their adaptation on TV or in the cinema?
18. Do you select your reading by genre, e.g. crime, science fiction, romance, memoir, graphic novel?
19. Do you read more fiction (novels and short stories) than non-fiction (biography, memoir, history, etc.)?
20. Do you read more female than male writers? If so, why?
21. Did the feminist movement influence your reading, and do you read books from feminist publishers such as Virago?
22. Which books, magazines, religious texts, etc. are currently on your bedside table or coffee table, or on your Kindle?
23. Do you re-read books and are there books you have read many times? Which are they?
24. How has your reading choice and enthusiasm changed over the years? e.g. do you read more poetry than when you were young? Do you read romantic fiction?
25. Do you read a daily and/or Sunday newspaper? Which one and why?
26. Do you read women’s magazines? Which one and why?
27. Do you share your books/magazines/reading experiences with friends and family?
28. Are you in a book group and is it mixed or women only? What does this experience give you, and if you’re not in a group, would you wish to be? Please briefly describe your group and the way it works.
29. Have you attended literary festival(s)? If so, which festivals, and what do you think you get from meeting writers and hearing books discussed? Do festival events influence your reading choices?
30. Do you read reviews of books and/or literary blogs?
31. How important is reading in your daily life, and at moments of joy, celebration, crisis, and stress?
32. Have you taken a creative writing course, and how has this changed the way you read?
33. Do you write a blog and/or post on Facebook, Mumsnet, or other social networks?
34. Do you own a Kindle or other form of electronic reader, and has this changed the way and what you read?
35. Would it matter if books disappeared and we all read on Kindles?
36. Do you have a favourite writer and book? Can you explain your choices?
37. Do you see your life in terms of books you’ve read? e.g. do you think about your relationships and life story in terms of stories you know, and do you ever think of your own biography in terms of ‘chapters’?
38. Please add any other thoughts and memories you have about your reading life.
39. How would you describe the class and ethnic group you come from? Please indicate your parents’ occupations, your own occupation, and how you describe your race/ethnic identity.
Read our speed readers checklists below to see how much you’re already a speedreader
Please note that reading novels for pleasure is different from reading non-fiction. The key difference is simple: reading novels require time, reading non-fiction doesn’t. You can speed read through non-fiction books in no time using speed reading techniques and strategies.
- I am not a good reader.
- Reading is a chore. I put it off as long as possible.
- I often feel overwhelmed by the amount I’ve got to read.
- I read really slowly.
- I don’t like to mark or write in my books.
- I feel I might miss something if I don’t read from cover to cover.
- When I’m reading, I always read in the same way.
- I worry that I won’t remember what I’ve read.
- I focus on details before I’ve understood the big picture.
- I love reading.
- I read a lot.
- I can find key information quickly.
- I use a variety of techniques for different material.
- I’m familiar with the 80/20 rule, and with thin slicing, and I apply these concepts to reading.
- I ignore information that is not relevant or that I already know.
- I can decide quickly how useful a book is to me.
- I know the difference between a good and a bad book (before I’ve read it).
- I have strategies which mean I usually remember what is important to me.
- I always know why I am reading before I start.
- I want to improve the way I read.
If any of the statements in checklist 1 describes you, speed reading will help (checklist 1 describes non-speed readers). If you answered yes to 8 or more of the statements in the checklist 2 (which describes speed reading habits and skills), you may already be a natural spd rdr. You may also be surprised to find that speed reading course can give you new insights into how to read and learn even more effectively.