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How can we learn from reading more efficiently?

Everyday I look at my bookshelf and see the 10+ books I have begun to read and am still immensely fascinated in. Within a month, I probably purchase 4-6 books on average. It's overwhelming! There is so much that I am interested in, that sometimes I can't help but feel defeated.

My question to the brilliant TED community is...

How can I read more efficiently?

This primarily involves getting through more books with higher levels of comprehension. How can I get through everything I want to read without completely neglecting the people in my life? The more I read, the more I want to read about. It's a vicious cycle.

Topics: Reading education

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  • Dec 15 2012: Re-learn how to read.
    There are several techniques available, but basically, it revolves around not sounding our each word and then listening to yourself read silently in your head. That is the slowest way to communicate.
    Studies have shown that when your speed increases, so does your comprehension. I didn't believe this but in my own case I found it was true.
    I like to read when on vacation (camping) and I budget for 3 books a day. I finally stopped packing a suitcase full of books and now try to take them on my kindle where possible.
    • Dec 15 2012: I am interested by your claim that when reading speed increases, comprehension increases. Can you tell me how that cause-and-effect works? Right now, I am struggling to increase my reading efficiency simply because I often spend a significant amount of time mulling on the contents of a specific section of a book. As a consequence, the book can only be finished after weeks. (The book is pretty content-intensive) As such, I would like my logic gaps to be clarified, that is, how reading fast affect comprehension. Or if you can link me any of the studies you read, I would be grateful too.
      • Dec 15 2012: Well most speed-reading techniques require you to visualize the text into images (rather than sounds).
        The argument for better recollection of this is simply that in general the visual power of our brain exceeds that of our audio memory.
        I'm not quite sure about the comprehension though...
      • Dec 16 2012: Richard is correct, most speed reading techniques shift the reading function from audio to visual and your visual memory is more pesistent. Perhaps I used the work comprehension incorrectly, I meant that your memory of what you read is more complete. When using standard audio memory, your ability to remember facts of a story might be 40%, when shifted to visual, your memory might be 90%. You just remember more of what your read and you remember it longer.
        When you are reading content heavy material you have to slow down an amount based on the ability of the author to frame the concepts in a understandable way.
        Some authors can make language sing and other cough. There;s just no way around that.
        Speed reading works best on descriptive text. At my absolute fastest (which I don't maintain now) I could read about 5000 wpm, but that was on some of Mitchner's works.
        A paper by Albert Einstein runs somewhat slower than that ;)
        You can find lots of info on this through standard Google references

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