So many books, so little time.
I’m envious of people who — like my husband and seemingly everyone on Goodreads — effortlessly finish book after book after book. I admit I’m a slow reader. I notice the structure and the copy editing choices of a text, and sometimes I read a powerful sentence over and over again to mine its nuances. My dalliance costs me dearly in books read per year.
I recently picked up (good thing I’ve been working out) Eleanor Catton’s Luminaries. Weighing in at several hundred pages, the book is longer than an Ayn Rand novel. Really? I thought. She couldn’t tell a story in 500 pages? (Her first novel is a perfect 300 pages of pure pleasure.) I couldn’t commit to spending so much time on one book, so I passed the book on to my husband, and now it’s back on the shelves of the public library — just like that — while I’m still lingering over my latest Ali Smith novel.
A big part of my problem is subvocalization: I read printed words at the rate of speech, which is about 180 words per minute (wpm). To increase my reading rate, I need to stop reading like I’m mouthing each word — simply a matter of practice.
But to read even faster? There’s an app for that!
Spritz Inc. has created a reading app for digital devices that allows users to read from 250 to 1000 wpm. Words — in red and in an appropriate font — are flashed one at a time in a “redicle,” a special visual frame. “Spritzing” saves time by eliminating saccades, which are the movements of the eye as it seeks out words from left to right. Readers choose the reading rate they feel comfortable with; apparently, five minutes is all it takes to adapt to this way of reading. Spritz claims that retention is just as good as with traditional reading.
(Eye problems, brain changes, privacy issues? Not to worry, the company says: Spritz works for good, not evil. So if your Spidey senses are tingling with visions of Big Brother spoon-feeding propaganda to the masses, stop it. Stop it, I said.)
Unfortunately, spritzing won’t automatically cure my subvocalization. To do that, Spritz suggests humming while reading. Sounds like madness, quite literally, but I’m willing to give it a try.