How to Speed Read a Novel (Explained) | Iris Reading
How to Speed Read a Novel?

How to Speed Read a Novel (Explained)

How to Speed Read a Novel?

Speed reading a novel can be done quickly by practicing some reading methods. Fast readers tend to read about 60 pages per hour. 

You can also improve your reading speed by following the techniques below:

  • Reading chunks, not words.
  • Skimming through
  • Not rereading
  • Using trackers or hand-pacing
  • Using tools to help you increase your reading speed

But knowing when to use each technique is vital. Your speed reading will be efficient if you use the right approach for your purpose. 

This article will tell you about speed reading techniques and how to use them effectively. We will also tell you ways to fortify your weaknesses and help you become a better reader.

Let’s get started. 

Speed reading techniques to speed read novels

Reading novels can be done faster if you use a few techniques. 

Many people have an average reading speed of around 150-250 words per minute. They think it will take a lot of work to surpass. 

However, with speed reading techniques, anyone can read more quickly. With the following techniques, you can increase your reading speed by up to 200 words per minute. 

Read chunks of words instead of separate words

To read faster, you must start reading multiple words in one line at once. This will help you read the entire page much more quickly.

The average reader spends most of their time reading individual words. After that, they piece them together to make sense of the sentence. But this drastically slows down the reading process.

Read chunks of words instead of separate words

When you read only one word in every instance, your brain has to compute more. For example, let’s say there are 100 words on one page of a novel. If you read every single word, that means your brain has to process 100 different points of information.

However, a strong reader may read several words at once. Let’s say they read five words at once. That way, their brain only needs to process 20 points of information. That’s already five times less time from one whole page.

Now imagine if you did this for a 400-page novel. It’s a simple method, but it’s very effective.

Scan and preview the content

To increase your reading speed, you need to use your peripheral vision. Scan the text and find keywords.

Help yourself get an idea of what the page holds. It’s like getting a spoiler ahead of reading. That way, when you start reading, you will already know what you are reading about. 

Your brain will need less time to process the context of the words, and you will read faster.

An average person usually needs to learn the context of what they are about to read. That means they will encounter words that might be used in a different context than their standard meaning.

These words might catch you off guard and require conscious rereading to make sense of them. This will reduce your reading speed.

The main idea here is to minimize any surprises of context or vocabulary. For example, if you read a biology article, “cell” would likely appear very often. In that article, it would mean the smallest building block of life.

However, a “cell” would likely mean a mobile phone if you read a telecommunication article.

Skimming through the content allows you to understand key information before reading the article. This helps in reading faster.

Reverse bad reading habits

Bad habits often cause average reading speeds. To increase your reading speed, you need to start unlearning these habits.

A bad reading habit usually starts at a young age and gets carried forward. One of the most common reasons why people read slowly is subconscious rereading.

Rereading words per sentence essentially doubles your reading time. This halves your reading speed. 

Many people face the need to reread things because they need to read them with more focus the first time around. Or because they need to remember what they have read.

Some people also need to read aloud. That’s because they can’t focus enough without hearing their sound. This means they can only recall information after reading a few pages quietly.

This lack of focus stems from poor information retention skills. It would help if you started using memory techniques to help you retain information better. That way, you will remember what you have read.

There are many resources available for memory training online. You can try online courses that can help you boost your memory. This will help you shed your reading habit of constantly rereading things.

You can also use a self-help book to help you develop better reading habits.

Use the hand-pacing technique

hand-pacing technique

Hand-pacing is a technique that helps you read fast. You use your finger and drag it along the sentence as you read. The finger acts as a pointer and helps your eyeballs focus on the words. The faster your finger moves, the faster your eyes can focus.

This technique is also known as the Pointer technique. It was invented in the 1950s by Evelyn Nielsen Wood, a school teacher in Utah. She could read up to 2,700 words per minute if she dragged her finger along the sentence.

If you don’t use this technique, your eyes will focus on many different information points due to peripheral vision. Therefore, you will often feel that you are readjusting your eyes to the small writing.

This is especially true if you read novels that often have a very small font and chunky paragraphs. 

When you use your finger as a guide, it will lead your eyes toward the words that you need to focus on. This prevents you from looking at other words in your peripheral vision.

In the same way, you can also use a page to cover the text below the sentence you are reading. Keep dragging that page down as you read. This is just as effective at reducing your total reading time when reading small-font, chunky writing.

You can also use a variation of this method called the tracker-and-pacer method. In this method, you use a pen to “underline” the text as you read. But the pen’s cap is still on, so you don’t leave any marks on your book. You can also actually underline the words if you like.

This method also helps your eyes focus on each word better. This helps increase your words per minute. 

The best way to use this is to spend at most one second on every line. Try gradually increasing your reading speed with every page as you go along. 

It might feel challenging at first. But with practice, your brain will adapt to this new technique. It also helps you improve your comprehension by focusing on the words you read. 

Use tools that teach you to speed-read 

Speed reading techniques also involve training yourself to read more words per minute using technology. You can use online tools that help you develop a higher reading speed.

Usually, online tools teach you tricks to skim through the text. But you need something that can help you focus on what you are reading.

Harvard, Columbia, and NASA trust this great reading tool. It helps you not only read faster but also comprehend the text that you are reading. That means you will retain more information as you read.

What is the best way to read more fiction?

The best way to read more fiction is to increase your reading speed. However, you can also read more fiction if you use immersive reading. That’s when you read without analyzing the novel from a psychosocial or syntactical view.

Many readers read novels for fun. They enjoy reading and imagining a whole other world as they go along. They don’t look for flaws or plot holes. They need to analyze the grammatical legitimacy of the story’s period.

They can analyze the different caveats. That’s called immersive reading. The reader doesn’t read to find flaws or make deductions. They only want to enjoy the story.

If you are an immersive reader, try reading the entire book in one go. For an optimal experience, make yourself comfortable. Find a good light source. Make yourself a hot beverage. And sit down for an evening of intense reading.

Reading the entire book in one sitting might only sometimes be possible. So, you can also read it in big chunks.

 read more fiction is to increase your reading speed

But only some read for pleasure. Many literature students have to read novels as a part of their coursework. They read to understand the text, the grammar, and sometimes even the author.

Semiotics means studying the language of a novel. People merely analyze the text’s language without caring about the story itself. When analyzing linguistics, old-fashioned words are of real importance.

Researchers try to understand how different words evolve. It also helps them understand what words were used at that time. It’s like traveling back in time. If you want to read more fiction to analyze the language, you can use the skimming technique. 

Quickly scan the text to find unfamiliar words. You can then analyze them further to see if they are from the older period. This way, you would only have to read part of the text in one line. This doesn’t matter to you because you don’t care about the story. 

People also read novels to learn more about storytelling. They will examine the structural integrity of the novel. These people look for plotholes and continuity errors. Crime and thriller novels are often the centerpieces of this kind of analysis. 

The only way to read more novels if you want to analyze the storytelling is to increase your reading speed. You can’t skim through the text because you need to understand the details. 

One thing that can help is to make mind maps of the different things you read. This can be useful in recalling information. Practice doing this to master this new skill. 

Sociologists and anthropologists also use novels to understand the societies of the past. Stories from a specific era contain reactions from different characters to different things happening in the stories. This helps us understand how the people of that time used to think.

Those characters’ words reflect society’s way of thinking at that time. People who want to understand culture through novels would need to delve into the details. 

Similarly, people also use novels to understand the writer’s psyche. They try to psychoanalyze the characters and their words. This helps them understand how the writer thinks. 

The only effective way to read more in this case is to read more words per minute. And it would help if you comprehend everything as you go. Rereading anything on a page will decrease your reading speed. Therefore, you need to practice speed reading. 

Boosting your productivity is important. Reading is a mentally intensive task. You can only do it efficiently if you maintain focus. Therefore, make sure that you are productive when you start reading. 

If you struggle with productivity, you can try some online resources. Many online courses help you become more productive with a little practice. 

Tips and tricks to speed read a novel

Aside from the techniques mentioned above, there are many other tricks that you can use to increase your reading speed. 

Let’s take a look at some of them below. 

Avoid distractions in your surroundings

It would help if you were in an environment without distractions. To comprehend things as you read them efficiently, you need to maintain your focus. 

Speed reading means more than flipping pages faster. You need to understand the text and retain the information. But you can only do that efficiently if you focus. 

If there are distractions in your environment, like the noise from the washing machine, it will hinder your speed. 

Remove as many distractions as possible to ensure you are speed reading effectively. Create an environment that helps you relax and be more focused. 

Avoid distractions in your surroundings

Some people lose focus even when there are no distractions. One of the techniques to prevent that is to chew gum. People claim that it helps them focus better. It could help you with speed reading more efficiently. 

Go easy when you start being a speed reader

To start speed reading, you need to train yourself. Begin by reading easier novels first. If you try more complex language, it will make your learning process less efficient.

Starting with a simple text can help you understand which technique works best for you. You can also try using different combinations of techniques to see if that helps. 

However, if you start with a difficult text, you will likely be unable to practice speed reading effectively. That will demotivate you or make you think that the speed reading techniques don’t work. 

Ironically, mastering speed reading techniques is a slow process. It would help if you gave yourself time before effectively using speed reading. 

You can gradually move to more complex texts. That will help you in building up your comprehension skills as you go. 

Know what you want from the text

Knowing why you want to read faster can help you use speed reading techniques more efficiently. You can select the best technique based on your purpose of reading. 

Some people use speed reading without knowing why they are doing it. That can make the process less efficient.

For example, you should get the gist of the text. For this, you can use skimming through. You can read a paragraph’s first and last sentences, which will help you get the entire content much quicker. 

However, if you use skimming to analyze the text, it wouldn’t work. You will have to put in double the effort. First, skimming through the text and then rereading it in detail. Using your finger for the hand-pacer technique is best for this kind of text. 

Knowing why you read the text can help you decide the best technique. 

Benchmark your reading speed

Measuring your words per minute when you speed read can help establish a benchmark. You can then keep measuring your speed and compare it with that benchmark. Your goal would be to overcome this speed.

As you establish a new benchmark by overcoming the first one, keep going. Keep trying to overcome your own best speed as you speed read.

Of course, while doing that, make sure you comprehend the text. You don’t just want to keep on passing your speed reading benchmarks but not understand anything while you speed read.

This tip has the best results when you practice it often. This brings us to our next point. 

Practice as much as you can

Practicing speed reading frequently will help you master speed reading. Try to do it with any text you are reading, not just novels.

Often the best way to practice is to time yourself and give yourself a goal. For instance, you can start with a goal of reading 100 words per minute. After you have reached that goal, you can give yourself a higher goal. 

Keep going until you reach your desired speed reading level. And then keep going further!

How fast can a person read a novel?

A fast reader can read almost 60 pages every hour. On the other hand, a slow reader would probably read less than 30 pages an hour. Most people read around 40 pages in one hour. 

An average novel is about 400 pages. If you read at an average reading speed, you will need about 10 hours to finish that book. 

However, it depends on how fast you read. It can be anywhere from 6 to 14 hours. But mind you, this is the absolute reading time that doesn’t account for any distractions. 

It will take several hours longer in real-world terms, where you have cat noises coming through the window.

Depending on how much time you spend reading, it can take you from less than a day to several days. 

How can I improve my reading comprehension when reading a novel?

Comprehension skills can be improved by improving your memory and vocabulary. During reading, we tend to forget things. This weakens comprehension. A laser-sharp focus and great memory can rectify that and improve comprehension. 

The greatest weakness for most readers is poor comprehension skills. They can read fast but might only remember a little of what they have read. This means that they cannot answer questions about it. 

Many of us want to learn how to read faster for academic testing. However, you need to retain the information you have read to be able to answer questions about it. 

Boosting your memory through different techniques is one way of ensuring that you remember every point. 

Another way to improve comprehension is to be more productive. Prevent yourself from losing focus. If you keep focus, you will retain more information. You will not need to reread some sentences to recall the missed points. 

Takeaway: Increase your reading speed to devour novels

Speed reading can be made easy by using a few techniques. However, knowing which reading technique to use is just as important as knowing how to use a reading technique. 

It would help if you kept on practicing to help yourself improve your skills. Measure your speed and try to overcome it. Keep doing it until you reach your desired speed. 

Speed readers can usually read about 60 pages in an hour. That’s what you should aim for. Improve your comprehension as well. Speed reading without comprehension isn’t effective. 

If you are just starting, it might not be easy. Iris Reading has some great resources that can help you out. Our Speed Reading Fundamentals Course is free and a great way to get started with speed reading.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for the course now!

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  • Christopher Ordway

    Enjoy your reading

  • Kakhaber Khmelidze

    The article for me! My problem. Thanks.