a revision of goals and reading

[This post is a continuation from my post last week about reading goals.]

Going from reading to study, I’ve decided to commit at least another two years to my self-guided Persian/Farsi studies. I think I will need the rest of this year to finish working my way through the text book I bought, and then another year to be able to read The Little Prince and other texts that my friend has lent me. I’m not sure that all of this will enable me to hold an actual conversation with someone, but I hope I can reach a level of proficiency that I’m happy with and that my friend approves of.

And while on the topic of study, I suppose I ought to announce some sort of commitment to my CPD (continuing professional development). Last year, I attained the requisite 40 CPD points reasonably early on in the year, and very much neglected it for the rest of the year in favour of Persian and other things. Now I’m at a point where I feel like my knowledge is not nearly as polished as it used to be, and I realise I need to make this a regular thing rather than a “cram as many CPD activities into the shortest amount of time” thing. This will probably mean regular reading of Pharmacy journals, and maybe watching online lectures when I can.

To help get me through all of this, I’ve watched a few videos about speed reading — by which I mean I stumbled upon two short videos on YouTube, and felt like I should try some of the tips and tricks. Both videos I watched suggested making use of peripheral vision, so that you don’t waste time moving your eyes all the way from one end of each line to the other. They actually suggested ruling lines down the length of each page to act as guides for where your eyes should stop. This seems like a good suggestion except it also seems like you’d waste more time than you’d save by going through a book to rule lines on every page, and I also don’t like the idea of drawing all over a book.

So, instead, I’ve been using my fingers as guides or place-markers, which is actually another tip — letting your eyes follow your finger gliding across the page can help make the movement of your eyes smoother and hence faster, but also helps stop you from back-tracking to the last word/phrase/line.

But actually the tip that I found most helpful is to simply try to read faster. This tip was from Tim Ferriss, and I found his video by following a link from a video a friend had shared. When he explained this tip, he compared it to driving: If you always drive on suburban roads, you’re probably really comfortable cruising along at 50-60km/h (he used mph, but I can’t remember things in imperial measurements so I’m converting everything to metric). Then, when you get onto the freeway/highway for the first time, and you have to drive at 100km/h or more, at first it feels extremely fast and maybe a little dangerous; but as you keep going, it starts to feel more normal, and it’s when you get off the freeway that 60km/h feels rather slow.

And Ferriss promises that you can do this (and use the other tips) and not lose any comprehension of the text. And I’ve actually tried all this out, and do believe there is some merit in it. I probably need a bit more practice, but it seems to be helping. I didn’t time myself before and after using the tips (he suggested doing this so that you can measure outcomes and progress) but my perception of it is positive.

For me, I think it actually comes down to self-confidence because I’ve always thought of myself as a slow reader (and as you think, so you are, or something like that). Sure, I read a lot (quantitatively) compared to most people I know, but I also know people who devour books a lot faster than I do. For some reason, I never thought I could read at the same speed that they read.

There was a third video I watched, in the midst of all my YouTube browsing, in which the speaker pointed out that we spend 12 years at school learning more and more about maths, science, history, etc, etc; but we only get taught to read in the first few years, and aren’t continually taught how to read better. We might be taught to read critically, read between the lines, read more broadly, and expand our vocabulary, but the actual process is neglected.

And over the years, I’ve thought about reading more books, and reading a greater variety of texts by a variety of authors, but I’ve probably never considered how I read. So, in the same way an avid cook might learn new techniques for working with the same ingredients so that they can become a better cook, I want to improve how I read so that I can become a better reader. Yes, I still want it to enjoyable — and I believe that it can be — but if I’ve got an opportunity for growth, I’m going to take it.

5 thoughts on “a revision of goals and reading

  1. In high school those of us in the college prep courses had to take a six-week course on Speed Reading. There were all sorts of tips and tactics which I suppose I absorbed and applied. Now I read slowly, lingering over the words, never pushing myself. HOWEVER, if you’re getting value from reading faster then go for it. I never would have thought to consider that as a variable in your reading challenge, so good for you to have figured that out.

    • Wow, I didn’t realise speed reading courses even existed, but I suppose it makes sense to prepare for college like that (especially if you do an English major!)

      I kind of feel like it might actually depend on the book I’m reading. There are certainly books out there that practically demand to be savoured and read at a slower pace. Or perhaps I just need time to adjust how I absorb info…

  2. Pingback: dear friend | pistachio conspiracy #63

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