Reading Methods, Speed and Quantity

I read The Eye of the World today. It took under 12 hours real time. Probably a little over 8 of actual reading. The majority was 700 words per minute with Voice Dream Reader (TTS + RSVP, Paul voice) but some was slower with only TTS.

Stats from Wikipedia: 782 pages, 306k words, 29.5h audio book

More accurately, my text editor says it’s 302k words after deleting everything before the prologue and deleting the glossary at the end.

That was hard and tiring. To read much more I’d have to skip doing philosophy in the morning first.

I took a one day break from reading books yesterday.

Tools used:

Yesterday I read 302k words (the whole book The Eye of the World, which is Wheel of Time book 1) with VDR. I did this partly as a test. I want to write down what it was like.

The majority was TTS+RSVP at 700 wpm but some was TTS only at 500-625. E.g. when exercising or cooking I turned the speed down to 550. I also turned the speed down and stopped visually reading near the end when I was tired. I used it as a break and change of pace.

I briefly tried 700 wpm audio without visual, and it was hard to follow (but not impossible). I also tried 700 wpm visual without audio (muted phone), and that was also hard but not impossible. But with both visual and audio together, the same speed felt easier.

VDR is not a great RSVP app. If you want to do visual only, it’s better to use a different tool like Outread or Spreeder. But avoid the apps that only show one word at a time. Larger chunks are important. I’ve done RSVP above 700 wpm pretty comfortably when I wasn’t rusty at it and was using a better app.

Some people claim you can only subvocalize as fast as you can talk, which limits it to maybe 200 wpm. I think you can subvocalize at least as fast as you can listen as long as you’re hearing the words in your head while listening. So I can subvocalize at at least 700 wpm. In the past, when reading RSVP only, I have subvocalized most if not all the words at 700+ wpm. I learned to subvocalize faster and relied on that strategy a lot more than on not subvocalizing. I have managed to do some reading without subvocalizing but I find it weird and kinda uncomfortable or maybe I feel like it’s harming my reading comprehension. I feel a little like I didn’t really read it if I don’t say the words to myself, but I certainly did comprehend some things that I didn’t subvocalize, so that feeling is at least partly incorrect. I could practice non-subvocalizing reading but have not prioritized that. I’ve read a decent amount at 1000 wpm and a little at 1200 wpm and I haven’t found my subvocalizing stopped that, so I don’t regard it as a significant problem (if it’s a problem at all). Maybe there are different ways of subvocalizing that cap you at lower reading speeds, but whatever I’m doing doesn’t cap my reading speed even though it still seems to me like I’m subvocalizing to me (at higher speeds, I recall sometimes thinking that I’m not subvocalizing every word).

I had a light headache before I started reading. I did a philosophy writing and editing session in the morning as usual and felt like I’d reached a stopping point. The headache went away. I felt fine later.

I fell asleep in the middle of reading and had to go back to find and reread what I’d missed. That was around half way through the book. It was in the afternoon. I’m not very sure how long I slept but I can estimate it from how much book I missed. I fell asleep a little ways into chapter 29 and I woke up in chapter 31. I just checked timestamps and at 700 wpm that means I slept for around 20 minutes.

I started reading a little before noon and stopped around 11pm. I took a few breaks including a shower but I was fairly focused on reading. Even with zero distractions, I don’t think finishing much faster would have worked well. I needed some breaks. The nap was good. I noticed I was struggling to focus on reading before I fell asleep. Later I sometimes had difficulty focusing so I took a small break or slowed the speed down and stopped reading visually.

I recently read a little over 100k words of The Expanse book 8 in one day and found that pretty hard. But yesterday I read triple that with only a one day break after finishing Expanse 9. The 100k day was after a bunch of days with no book reading with a few days mixed in with fairly light reading, plus I’d started the book and read ~28k words the day before. I did tire when reading more Expanse though and had to limit my daily reading, due to tiring, even though I wanted to continue the plot.

I don’t think The Expanse is significantly harder reading. And I don’t think the issue is fresh reading vs. rereading. First of all, I’d already read book 8 and was rereading it before finishing the series with 9. I didn’t remember much from 8 though. Second, I read Wheel of Time over 20 years ago (except the last 3-5 which I read after Sanderson finished the series). I believe I did read the first 3-5 books twice, but I don’t think those very old readings made much difference. Knowing the general setting and a bunch of proper nouns like character names does help, but I knew that for The Expanse too. And my record reading day was with a first reading of Codex Alera (though not the first book – I already knew the settings and a lot of proper nouns before achieving my highest word count).

What also helped for WoT was that I watched the TV show recently, read a few scenes from the book to see how the show changed stuff, and read a fairly short book summaries of the first several books, so I knew the plot outline pretty well – in currently active memory – before reading yesterday.

It helps to not care if you miss a little bit. I don’t aim to catch every detail. So you should be reading something that isn’t too important or else doing a reread (e.g. Atlas Shrugged is important to me, but my 15th reading isn’t – it’s no big deal to me to read some and miss some).

A bigger issue than missing a few details is digesting what you read. If you’re trying to learn much, you’ll want to read in smaller chunks and give yourself more time to think about what you read between reading sessions. Like imagine you’re reading Conjectures and Refutations for the first time. It’d probably be a good idea to limit yourself to one chapter per day, at most, so that you have time to think about each chapter before you distract yourself by reading the next chapter. If you’re rereading it for reminders then it’s less of a problem but still an issue. But if you’re reading a fiction novel that has little deeper meaning and requires little digesting, then you can read a ton fast and it’s OK. I can remember plot, events and scenes OK even though I didn’t stop to mentally digest it.

I remember that my top reading day in the past came after reading a lot the day before – I think at least 200k words, probably 250k or a bit more. That was with VDR.

I also did an RSVP reading of Atlas Shrugged with spreeder long ago at I believe mostly 700 wpm. I’m pretty sure that took 2 or 3 days but I don’t recall which.

At 700 wpm, AS is around 13 hours, while Eye of the World is 7 hours. A one day reading of AS should be possible but very hard. You’d have to start in the morning, skip everything else (no philosophy work), and possibly stay awake longer than 16 hours. The main issue is focus not time. It’s hard to stay focused at high speeds for so long.

When I used to read paper novels slowly, I found that reading more than 200 pages in a day was hard. That was my limit before it started feeling like really heavy reading and too much to take in. The limit there wasn’t based on time. It was partly a focus issue and partly was about wanting to digest what I read some. If I was reading that much, it was probably a book I liked and wanted to pay attention to. My typical way of reading books was slower than that. And I’d never read that much non-fiction in a day.

I remember I used to read roughly an hour a day of hard books like Popper or Godwin, using paper books. At that time, I often read fairly early in the day but after exercising.

When I learned RSVP I did it initially with first readings of Mises books and started at 300 wpm. It took a lot of practice to reach even 500+ wpm but I eventually read a lot of other stuff too and got to the point I could read dense stuff like that at over 700 wpm. Then I’d turn it down below my max speed when I wanted to pay closer attention. For example, I remember reading a book as research for Alex Epstein and writing comments on it as I went. I used 500wpm RSVP and had no trouble catching tons of details to write critical analysis of. My max speed was significantly higher so 500 wasn’t hard and allowed ~full reading comprehension and replying to stuff.

I think I should work on RSVP again some, at least to experiment. I switched focus to VDR and let my RSVP get rusty. I generally find VDR fast enough plus easier (with TTS+RSVP or just TTS). I think it’s a better deal for the mental energy cost. I don’t like the 700 wpm limit on VDR though (and for TTS only, I usually don’t go much over 600, and 500 is easy/comfortable). Pure RSVP takes a lot of focus and doesn’t deal with interruptions or distractions well (high speed reading of any type take some focus and is hard to start and stop repeatedly for interruptions, but IIRC pure RSVP was particularly bad and requires getting into the flow more than I need for TTS).

The Eye of the World audio book is read at around 170 wpm, which makes 700 wpm reading a 4.1x multiplier. I’m now reasonably comfortable listening to some YouTubers at 4x. It varies significantly by speaker. Accents are a big problem for going that fast. Some people speak faster than others. Some say their words more clearly. Typically, popular YouTubers are easier to go fast with. I think the way of speaking that big audiences prefer is on the slow side, with clear enunciation of words, and no accent to my American ears. The issue is similar to what’s considered no accent for Hollywood TV/movies. I’m used to that and can more easily hear it at faster speeds. When I listen to Goldratt, for example, I have more trouble catching each word at 2x than I do for Asmongold at 4x. Goldratt’s accent isn’t a big deal at 1x but really makes it hard for me to go fast. It’s a problem because I want to listen to his content faster than 2x because I can intellectually keep up. I don’t like the bottleneck being his accent instead of me understanding what he’s saying. (I’m not sure what speed I’d prefer for Goldratt if he had no accent. I think I’d keep him below 3x since there’s a lot more to digest than with Asmongold. Maybe around 2.5x is what I want, so 2x feels too slow but is still kinda hard to hear. I’ve even done some at like 1.7x to hear it better.)

Anyway, I thought that if I aimed to read 300k words at the start, and had it in mind as a goal, that maybe I could do it. And I actually don’t even feel that tired from it today. Sometimes confidence and believing in yourself helps. I didn’t try to force the goal though. My plan was to try reading it and see how it goes while keeping in mind finishing in one day as a possible goal. I planned to stop if it was too hard/problematic. But I paid attention to when I could finish by, how fast I was making progress (given some breaks), and whether finishing before bedtime was realistic.

I knew I was rusty regarding reading so much and that I hadn’t worked up to it gradually, but also I did read more than that in a day at least once before, maybe several times (I didn’t keep track). I also knew I’d only had a one day break after 4 days in a row of fairly tiring reading. But I thought maybe having a different attitude would make a significant difference.

Lately I’ve been more constrained by finding books I want to read than by ability to read them. I’m undecided on whether I’ll keep reading more WoT. It’s not great or important. It’s OK though. I found it entertaining enough. And I do like to review old things and see how my perspective changed (I’ve done that with some video games that I played long ago, too). And I find reading fun, including speed reading and binge reading. I wish I had more better stuff to read though.

People say book 1 of WoT isn’t great and it picks up more in book 2. I can see that. The plot didn’t get going that much compared to what I remember for later in the series. So I may enjoy book 2 more than book 1, so that’s a reason to read at least one more. The whole series is really long though. 14 books and a novella. Around 4.4 million words. I’m not committed to reading all that but I guess I’ll keep reading some if I want to read something and don’t have a better idea. I’m not sure when to read New Spring but I didn’t want to start with it and I’d rather continue the plot with book 2 than read it next. I would like to read Ravens, the extra prologue chapter that was added in a later edition of The Eye of the World. It’s set during the childhood of the main characters.

I noticed more book/show changes while reading the book. They changed the show more than GoT did. It’s really bad. Making Moraine the main character is ridiculous when she’s not even a perspective character in the book. Besides the prologue with Lews Theron, Rand is the only perspective character until the travelling group gets split up. Then Perrin and Nynaeve get to be perspective characters sometimes so that we can follow what’s happening with their groups. I saw a thing recently about the perspective chapter counts by gender which showed it really male heavy in book 1 before evening out more in later books. That’s true but misleading. Nynaeve is 1/3 of the perspective characters and 1/2 of the perspective side characters. The only reason it’s so male heavy is that the large majority of the scenes are from a single person’s perspective. It’s focused on one main character before branching out more in later books. It’s reasonable to limit the perspectives more earlier on as the reader is learning his way around the world. Which is why making Moraine a main character is terrible. It’s a coming of age story about young people who don’t know a lot about the world, so they learn what’s going on at the same time the reader does. Having a wise adult as the main character really changes that. It’s like making Gandalf or Dumbledore the main perspective character. Something’s really wrong with the WoT TV show people. I saw something about the guy in charge saying they were going to continue with Moraine and Lan as the main characters in season 2, but they do less in book 2 than book 1, so they’re making up stuff for them to do next season.

Oh another thing I wanted to write about is what makes it hard to read fast. Context changes (e.g. scene changes) are hard to follow at high speeds. WoT 1 was pretty good for this. Some chapters didn’t even have scene changes. Actually sometimes a new chapter just continued the same stuff, too. Even after the group is split up, IIRC Rand and Mat get 4 chapters in a row when traveling to Caemlyn, followed by another chapter at Caemlyn.

Proper nouns are hard if you aren’t familiar with them. When it’s talking about a bunch of character names that I know offhand, it’s fine. But when they name people and places that I’m not very familiar with, if at all, then they’re harder to catch. There were parts with a bunch of that at once. There was some of that near the beginning and I remember it happening when they got to Caemlyn to introduce some of the local rulers and politics, but I couldn’t follow it well (even though I do remember some relevant stuff because some of those people are major characters later in the series).

Dialog with 3+ people can be hard. The hard part is connecting the speech with the speaker. I can see stuff like “Perrin said” but I sometimes have trouble catching whether it applies to the speech before or after it while also paying attention to the speech. And when there’s lots of dialog, often some stuff doesn’t get a character explicitly attached to it. Fortunately, you can often tell who said what just by content. And a lot of dialog only involves two people who go back and forth, so it’s usually pretty easy to keep track of who said what. Dialogs like The Pursuit of Happiness are hard to read fast because the amount of stuff someone says at once can vary (it’s harder to tell when it switches speakers if a speaker might say one sentence or five paragraphs at once – I and other authors do have some dialogs where one character explains a bunch in a row), and it’s hard to keep rapidly context switching between characters in your mind. You need to not only catch the words but also relate them to who is saying them. Basically, depending on the speaker, you need to add nodes differently to your mental tree of what’s being said. But switching to a different place in the tree – a context switch – takes some thought to find the right place, move there, and remember the parent node there. You can’t do that in the time you get to read a one word name. It’s similar to how the text “chapter 4” goes by too fast for me to finish switching contexts in my mind, but it happens really frequently instead of e.g. every 10 minutes. Even if you aren’t switching where you put nodes in your mental tree, just switching what metadata you’re attaching to the nodes (for a different speaker) takes a second. Each speaker has their own context and what they say has to be interpreted in light of that context regardless of how you arrange the tree so that the nodes go in a different location or not.

Blockquotes are hard. This is primarily a non-fiction issue like reading FI list emails. It’s hard to track where different levels of quotation nesting start and end, and know who said each piece of text, while reading the text at high speed. Sometimes the meta data is just literally not visible in the app. RSVP generally doesn’t do indentation or quote coloring. With a block quote in a book, there’s often no way to know where it ends in an RSVP app (or VDR set in plain text mode) besides contextual clues.

In the morning today after all the reading, I reread my new CF article. I was planning not to read today but felt fine reading that. I don’t think I’ll try to read more later today. I wasn’t sure if I’d write much but this is over 3k words already so that’s good. I’ll probably watch some chess later and play some video games later since those are both different types of energy usage than reading. Writing is also a different energy resource/budget than reading. There’s some overlap but also significant non-overlap IME. I think it’s efficient to vary the intellectual activities you do so you’re using different types of mental energy regularly. I talked about this some with Max in the tutoring videos. I think I said it’s like having multiple different currencies which, to a reasonable approximation, regenerate when you sleep. So you should try to learn what your daily budget is for each one and get a feel for how much of what activities you can do per day, and try to do some productive stuff daily of each type so you don’t waste budget. Like your max is 100 of each currency, and when you sleep it goes back to 100, but even if you’re already at 100 it won’t go higher. Roughly. There is some carryover between days – you can save up a bit above your regular budget or get really tired and not recover your full budget overnight – but as a first approximation it’s just daily budgets.

My general experience when reading yesterday was I could keep up with the words and follow what was happening fine at 700 wpm. The hard part was when I started losing focus. I had to actually pay attention constantly or else I’d really quickly miss a significant amount of stuff. I noticed when I was having trouble focusing and would try to refocus or take a break. When I took the one nap I knew I was struggling to focus and might need a break soon. I had a nap in mind already as a thing I should probably do to help refresh my mind. I did feel a bit better and find it a lot easier to focus after the 20 minute nap. That helped sustain me for the second half of the book. In general, I’ve noticed I tend to nap on days when I do a lot of intellectually draining work, like if I read or write a ton I’m much more likely to nap than on a different day. I think sleeping is the most efficient and effective way to rest and recover (compared to alternatives like relaxing, watching TV, showering, exercising, cooking or eating – all with no multitasking).

I wanted to go faster than 700 wpm sometimes but I can’t with VDR and my RSVP skill is rusty (I think I’d need to slow down to RSVP, not speed up) and switching apps and getting to the same place in the book is a minor hassle too. There’s a delicate balance. Going too slow actually makes it harder to focus. You want the words to come in at the same rate you’re processing them. Too fast or slow are both bad. Too slow means you have spare attention so you might start thinking about something else or getting bored. Too fast means you miss stuff and get lost. You want to get into a flow where the book occupies all your attention – no more, no less. There’s a margin of error so it doesn’t have to be perfect. If you want to think about something, pause. It doesn’t work well to slow the book down by 20% or even 50% to think about something while continuing to read. It’s really hard to think while also reading fast and having to keep up with the computer’s pacing with no breaks. It’s not like regular reading where you go at your own pace and you can stop at any point to think. If you want to think with RSVP or TTS, just pause. Having it slower doesn’t work well. It’s better to read at full speed plus have pauses. To read a ton, you want a book where you won’t have much to stop and think about, like a novel that isn’t very deep or confusing. Sometimes I start thinking about something (book related or not) while reading, and I’d just have to rewind a bit. High speed reading is pretty incompatible with mental multitasking or distractions. (Some other multitasks, like exercise, simple cooking or some types of video games, work fine though. BTW, please be careful about driving or riding a bike while listening to a book! Distracted driving is very dangerous! And speeding them up makes books extra distracting. While driving, you should not get into a reading flow state! Even if you’re just walking while speed reading, make sure you actually pay attention when crossing the street.)

Oh I should probably mention: People struggle to comprehend philosophy that they read slowly. Speed reading makes that problem worse. People also overestimate how well they comprehended it. Rather than trying to read philosophy faster, you should probably be reading it slower – specifically by spending time taking notes, making trees, brainstorming about what it’s saying, and doing other activities to help you understand it.


I read half of The Great Hunt today. It was a fair amount of reading (~133k words) but didn’t feel super long or hard. It didn’t feel at all comparable to reading the whole The Eye of the World. I guess it’s about the same length as reading two of Heinlein’s young adult novels, which I’ve done as no big deal. But it’s more than the word counts I recently read from The Expanse that I found hard/tiring. I’m not clear on what the difference is.

I tested VDR for RSVP more by muting it. I figured out it’s a poor RSVP app. The timings for the chunks are wrong. They are unequal and they also don’t correspond to chunk length. I don’t know exactly how they work but they’re just a bit wrong. They’re in the ballpark of correct but they aren’t and it makes reading harder. My experience is that some words stay on screen a little extra long and others too short so I miss words sometimes. Like I could keep up with the average pace but I can’t reliably keep up when there’s variance. I don’t have this problem with real RSVP apps. VDR isn’t designed for this and it just doesn’t work quite right. VDR’s TTS doesn’t have this issue at all. The pacing on the TTS always feels perfectly even, consistent, etc. (Actually there used to be a glitch where I’d get a tiny micro-stutter in the audio occasionally but I haven’t had it lately.)

Regarding the visuals, I’ve noticed in the past that if you have line and word highlighting on (which I turn off to make it work better for RSVP), they don’t fully smoothly follow the voice to highlight the current word. It’s close. It’s pretty good. But it’s not quite right. My issues with the line scrolling timings may be related to that.

It’s not a frame rate issue. 60 fps is fine. With other apps, I’ve had better experiences at faster speeds with 60 fps screens including the same iPhone i’m using now. If you do 600 wpm and 2 word chunks it’s 5 updates per second or 12 frames per update. That’s long enough that if the timing was a frame off sometimes it’d be less than 10% variance and it’s plausible I wouldn’t notice. With VDR I have to use 1 line chunks and set the font size large enough that they aren’t too big. The most common chunk size is 3 words, so it’s more frames per update. But the variance is large enough to be quite noticeable, so I guess it’s several frames of variance sometimes.

I still like it though. TTS + poor RSVP (+ 700 wpm limit) has advantages over using only one reading method and sense organ at a time.

Separately, speed readers get accused of skimming. This is not skimming. You see every word! Skimming can go quite a bit faster and can be effective. What to use depends on your goal. Like with a novel, you can glance at a page and turn the page twice if it doesn’t look like an important scene. That’s a skimming method. It’s possible to follow the main plot that way and finish a book quickly, but you miss tons of details. And you could just read a plot summary instead, which is even faster, though it does have disadvantages (you don’t see the flavor of the book).

I read the second half of The Great Hunt yesterday. I felt fine for most of the reading, but a bit tired near the end. I slowed the speed down to 600 wpm for the ending which made up for the extra difficulty I was having at 700 wpm. After I finished, I felt very tired. That’s a thing I’ve noticed before. I feel OK during an activity but crash after. I think that’s a common experience people have with all sorts of projects – they can keep going to the end but then their fatigue hits them as soon as their goal is accomplished. Something about working towards a goal helps people ignore getting physically or mentally tired, or set it aside, but then they stop setting that aside when they reach the goal. It happens with e.g. sports – players feel OK but then super tired right when the game ends. Same with races.

This makes it hard to read a lot if I’m planning to do anything else important later that day because it’s hard to monitor how much energy I have left for later. It’s less of a problem if the reading is my last important activity, but it’s still an issue when reading so much that it’ll affect me the next day too. Also it’s good to save a little energy. Yesterday after I finished reading I was too tired to play video games or do some other easy activities, so I was stuck with very limited activity options for a couple hours until bedtime.

When I read WoT book 1 in 1 day, I found a bit of the ending confusing. I went back and reviewed that part without speed reading, and it was still confusing.

I’ve had the same experience with speed watching TV. If I miss a line, rewind and slow it down, it’s often still hard to hear and sometimes I just give up after several tries. (I strongly prefer to watch with subtitles, but they aren’t always available.)

For book 2, there were a few parts I found confusing. I just went back and tried to figure one out and I think it’s just bad writing – a minor plot hole. I read a fan wiki in addition to keyword searching the book and reading a few parts. I think it’s just the book’s fault not mine.

I’m way more inclined to blame myself for missing stuff or being confused when speed reading (especially a ton in one day), but reasonably often it turns out that speed reading was not the problem.

I read WoT book 3 in 2 days. I took a 1 day break after the previous book again. Reading a half book in a day twice didn’t feel that hard, but the overall result of reading 3 WoT books in a week was exhausting.

A way I save attention/energy is by not paying much attention to aesthetic/cosmetic descriptions. I read them but I don’t digest/process/remember them as much as other information like the plot.

You have to compress/condense information while reading. I’m not going to remember the whole book word for word. I don’t remember words like “the”. I remember ideas instead – particularly the ones I judge are important. Having some less important stuff makes it easier to read faster. If it was denser with content I was trying to remember, I’d have to read slower. I can only process the important stuff at a limited rate. If it was all that stuff, all the time, I’d have a harder time. Basically, I think the easier parts that I pay less attention to help me get extra time to digest the more important parts.

This explains why I have a harder time with the intense ending sequences and have slowed them down. It’s not just that they’re written more confusingly (they are) and have more frequent scene changes and more stuff left out and implied. It’s not just that I’m more tired near the end of the book. It’s also that they’re more dense with important information/actions/plot, so it’s harder to keep up with.

I don’t think I could mass produce writing like I can mass produced reading novels. I couldn’t just force through writing 30k words cuz they have to be creatively created. For editing, the more tired I get, the more I can only do local edits. I can find typos and stuff but I struggle with global organization and making different pieces fit together. More tired = more just thinking about what’s in front of me and not harder more complicated stuff.

A way I save attention/energy is by not paying much attention to aesthetic/cosmetic descriptions.

This got me thinking about something.

As a kid I read a lot of comics and remember not wanting to read them fast. I intentionally slowed myself down while reading. Not for the reason to not miss anything, but for the reason to read them more in a “conversation like speed” and even sometimes have some pause between different ppl speaking in the comic.
I don’t know if this is a common thing to do when reading comics. I almost exclusively read comics as a kid. I think this approach (reading comics this way and almost only reading comics) sabotaged me from becoming a faster reader as a kid.

I thought I was a slow reader as a kid. I timed reading sometimes. Like read for an hour and then check how many pages you finished. I recall being a bit slower than 2 minutes per page. I thought that was slow and that fast readers could approach 1 minute per page.

Words per page vary quite a bit by book. Some fantasy novels cram over 400 words onto a page, but some books have under 300 words per page. Some website claims some big survey found 280/page is the average for fiction and 233 for non-fiction.

I also thought I was a thorough reader who actually read every word. Skipping and skimming are different things than reading fast. I don’t know how much people do them as part of their regular approach to reading and don’t acknowledge it.

I don’t think I’d gotten much faster when I started tool-assisted speed reading. I remember practicing RSVP at 300 wpm a lot early on.

I think I got a bit faster at non-tool-assisted reading after doing a lot of fast tool-assisted reading, but I haven’t measured it.

Speed reading, listening and watching are nice skills. If you can’t watch some YT and TV at 2x (or listen to any podcasts or audio books at 2x) it’s probably worth gradually increasing your speed. Many people find 1.2x, or even higher, easy to start with – and even 1.2x saves enough time to matter. 2x for just some content (since difficulty varies with accent, talking speed, etc) is not a very aggressive long term goal to IMO. Like you might go up .1 every 2 months and never find it very hard.

But speed isn’t great as I used to think because I’ve realized people struggle a lot with reading comprehension, and they should get better at that before trying to go fast. That’s a big problem with philosophy; I don’t know how big of a problem it is with novels. And I’ve personally almost never used speed reading tools for forum discussions.

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Yesterday I read The Shadow Rising (WoT 4) with VDR. Wikipedia says the audio book is over 40 hours. After deleting front and end matter, Textmate says it’s 386,681 words. My total time, from when I started to when I finished, including breaks, was 13h 35m. I read the majority of it at 700 wpm, and it’s 9 hours long at that speed. I took 2 break days, without reading much, before doing this.

I found the first 60% of the book pretty easy, but then I was tireder and started having more difficulty maintaining focus. My longest breaks were around 25% and 50%. I took a bunch of short breaks, under 5 minutes, in the last 40%. A couple times I lost focus enough to pause, take a short break, and then rewind (less than a minute) before continuing. I slowed the speed down a bit for some chapters with more plot/secret reveals and important details. I slowed it down and did audio-only reading for a while when I was tired (I also did that earlier when exercising).

Perrin gets a lot of chapters (including ~5 in a row twice) but his plotline is the worst. I had this opinion when I first read the books and I still have it now.

I felt fine for the last 2 chapters with Rand’s plot conclusion, which I think I did at 600 wpm, but I felt really mentally tired as soon as I finished.

Thanks for the feedback.

I did some RSVP practicing about a year ago. I went up to 650 wpm. Seeing this I’m sure I rushed it though. I think I only spent about no more than a few weeks of doing it fairly consistently.

Audio books I pretty much always do at about 2x speed. YT I do 2x depending on the content and if I watch it on a computer / ipad / iphone.

Good point.

I’ve been practicing some RSVP again with The Wheel of Time. It was really hard at first when I was super rusty but it’s getting better.

I noticed that not having pronunciation automated makes RSVP really hard.

I can see a new word and make up whatever pronunciation seems intuitive to me, and that’s OK.

What’s hard is if I look up the correct pronunciation in the glossary, and it’s different than my intuition, and I want to change my intuition. That process of correcting myself, and purposefully saying it to myself the correct way when reading it, is too slow and really distracts from doing RSVP and causes missing some of the next words.

To RSVP effectively, I have to use my intuitions about pronunciation, not try to improve them.

I kept trying to say “Aiel” to myself the correct way, and some other words. “Aiel” is a common word so it kept distracting me. With VDR, I’d actually looked them up and set the correct pronunciation in the pronunciation dictionary, so it’s kinda awkward to go back to a wrong, intuitive pronunciation after hearing them the right way a bunch of times. But to focus on RSVP I needed to stop worrying about how to pronounce stuff.