We all know reading is important. I knew it even when I hated. I happen to love reading now, so it’s easy for me to stay with a book for a long time. I am kind of a loner too, so books are my constant companions. This post is to show you the techniques I use when I want to read a book a day. I really do not have a ritual I follow. So what I did was to look for some resources online, and share the ones I have actually followed with you. The one which I personally don’t follow is Read in Intervals; I only added it because it makes sense to me.
The books I have read in a day have been either completely captivating or happen to be required textbooks I have to finish for a course. You can finish a textbook in a single day. I have done it before. I will show you how I did it pretty soon.
The thing about reading is that you have to make up your mind to read. When you have to finish a book with so many pages in one day, you have to tell yourself you are in it for the long haul. Yes, some books are very boring, but sometimes you have no option than to read them. Whether the books are boring or not, the techniques I will be sharing with you will help you read faster. Let’s get right into them:
- Pre-reading exercise: Before I read I do a few things which make my reading smooth. First, I ask myself why I am reading the book. If it’s fiction, I have an idea about the pace I can go. I can afford to let some understanding slip. But it’s different when I am reading a textbook. I have to take my time because the prime goal, unlike fiction, is to understand, not entertainment. So you identify your objective for reading. Your objective also informs which sections of the book you should read. If it’s a required course material, it might be necessary to compare the topics in the book to your course outline. Then you focus on those topics that you have to read to pass your exams. Besides, some text books provide summaries of chapters; if you understand the summary, it might not be necessary to read the entire chapter. In this way, you read the book based on your needs. A confession: this is how I read textbooks in a single day. Not because I am special. I was born awesome though!
Aside your objectives, you may want to scan through the book to know the number of pages that you will have to read. This will make you know how fast you should be reading.
The next thing you do in the pre-reading stage is to find a good environment to read. For me, the only noise I can stand when I am reading is that from the fan. My mind cannot tolerate any distractions. Not even classical music, although it appeared to be okay with it at first. You should try reading with classical music. I don’t even try to read while listening to popular tunes because it makes me unproductive- it generally is. So for my environment to be conducive there has to be no noise and it has to be comfortable. I have a study desk in my room, on which I study. That’s my comfortable place. I beg you, comfortable doesn’t mean lie on your bed. I almost always sleep when I do that. Maybe you will too. You don’t want to take such a bet.
- Speed reading: Now we come to reading proper. Speed reading is about reading super-fast. I use two methods. First, I reduce my fixations (not particularly) and I use a pacer (I really do this). To reduce your fixations simply means that you read a bundle of words on a line, not word for word. I mean, instead of reading one word at a time, you can divide each line on a page into three, and look at each part once. In this way your reading speed increases. The second thing I do is to use a pacer. Do you have any idea what a pacer is? Well, I use a finger as my pacer. When the finger is tired I use a pen. But hey, I will choose my finger over a pen any day! The pacer is to help you keep track of the line you are on. Some people call it tracker. Anyway, its goal is to prevent you from drifting. Sometimes when you lose concentration, the pacer reminds you of where you are in your reading without you having to scan the entire page. If you want to be a master speed reader you can read or listen to this article on Tim Ferris blog here.
- Read in intervals: I usually don’t plan to do this. I just read. When I get bored I do something different for some time and return back to reading. But this technique is more structured. You can decide to read for an hour, and then break to listen to some music for 20 minutes. I added this technique because it is more structured and you are not likely to forget that you have some material to finish. When you use my I-am-bored-so-I-have-stopped-method you might end up going to watch a movie and forget about reading altogether.
- Let your phone rest in peace: Give your phone a break. Don’t be reading and be checking what’s happening on your phone. You can decide to use your breaks for that, although I think it is a bad idea. When you are reading have the discipline to stick to it. That’s the only way you can read a book in a day. If you are reading on the phone itself, mute your notification sound and put the phone on silent. You can put it on vibration, in case someone calls.
- Take notes: I will advise you to take simple notes, because elaborate notes take a lot of time, and you may not have time on your side. I do most of my readings through PDFs, so I take notes primarily by highlighting. I must admit; it’s not the best way to take notes. If you are reading a textbook you may have to take better notes which can help you revise.
- Use audio-books: Listening to books is quick way to read them. You may have to pay for them online. But you may find some for free on a website like Librivox, although I cannot vouch for their quality. You may get lucky and find a recording of a book on YouTube. You can use an online YouTube converter to convert them into MP3 format.
I hope my techniques were helpful to you! Let me know what you think about them. The techniques I believe can help you to read a book a day include doing some pre-reading exercises like identifying your goal for reading and finding a noise free location. It also includes speed reading, reading in intervals, keeping your phone away from you, taking notes and using audio-books.
God be with you till we meet again!