Fun with skimming


I’ve made my way through the first two chapters of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Speed Reading, and so far it has been… interesting.

The authors state that the speed reading increases comprehension, mainly because it forces readers to concentrate more. More concentration = better recall. I’m willing to accept that on a trial basis, because like most people, my concern about speed reading is that I’ll be missing a lot of what I don’t want to miss.

They also make it clear that reading comprehension will go down while learning these skills. That’s a problem, because I’ll have to read a book to practice, but I don’t own a book I’m willing to read-but-not-really. Why would I buy a book to sacrifice to this? What book do I pick up next, knowing I may miss key stuff?

I assume I’ll be doing a lot of rereading.

Anyway, I’d planned to practice on my friends list, since I do so much reading online, but the first techniques they teach you (running your hand down the page) won’t really work for that.

The hand motion stuff is sorta interesting. They ask you to try all the techniques, looking for one that will work; one method is to trail an index finger down the page (actually, it’s three methods, because you hold it at either margin or on the center of the page). A few others have your fingers moving back and forth on the page, and some use objects like cards.

The idea is that the motion draws your eye, and helps you concentrate. Students are supposed to move their hands a little faster than they feel comfortable with–you push yourself out of your comfort zone to expand it, basically, which is an idea I can very much go for–but that doesn’t really work with graphic novels or computer screens. Time to pick a novel.

One flub the authors make, though, that I have to mention: One of the hand motion methods is called “The Vulcan” because you (supposedly) lay your hand on the page the way Mr. Spock did on Star Trek, prompting your eyes to ping pong back and forth in the gap between your fingers.

Except, the photo and the instructions they offer don’t resembe a Vulcan “Live long and prosper” gesture at all. You’re supposed to make a fist and extend your pinky and index finger–essentially, devil horns.

Now, maybe Leonard Nimoy made that gesture at an Iron Butterfly concert or something, but he sure never did it on TV. Ooops.

Now, before I go out for a healthful lunchtime stroll (to see if my book in on the shelves at Borders/B&N yet–OMG 4 DAYS!), I want to say that I just finished John Levitt’s Dog Days this week. It was fun! I especially loved the ending, and the fact that the characters didn’t already have an encyclopedic knowledge of the way magic worked. They argued about it! They disagreed about the evidence! It was a nice change from the “This is how this works and this is how it’s done” style of some other books.

I didn’t want to put off mentioning that in case John thought he was the speed reading sacrifice.