This blog post is not about giving you instructions on how to read; rather it illustrates my findings on how to read. Recently, I started reading about “how to read optimally?”. During my expedition, I came across many articles which helped me burst the common myths about reading.

The first question thrown at me was: What is the fundamental difference between a competent reader and an ineffective reader? An efficient reader has the right mindset towards reading. They know why they are reading and what they should expect out of the book. On the other hand, an ineffective reader has many misconceptions about reading. I will be discussing few of those misunderstandings in this blog.

Myth 1. You cannot read more than 1k words per minute

This is a misconception that many people have. Individuals, with practice, have attained this reading speed and still understand the text. Reading is a skill that can be improved over time. Thinking that you can improve indefinitely would be foolish. There is a limit till which humans can read and comprehend the text simultaneously. After a certain threshold, we start reading in our unconscious mind, and our comprehension becomes inadequate. Hence realizing your toppling point helps you improve your reading capabilities.

Myth 2. You can understand 100% of the text

You can never understand the complete text in one go. You may require multiple readings of the book. Even after multiple sessions, if you pick up the book after a period you could still get new insights from the book. This happens because over the period you have improved and haveehad many changes in your perceptions. Hence one should never focus on getting 100% out of a book, rather concentrate on getting the main gist of the book.

Myth 3. You must read slowly to get better comprehension

Everyone has his/her reading speed and comprehension level. Your reading speed doesn’t justify your capability of understanding the text. It is a misconception that reading faster can reduce your comprehension of the text. Yes, after you have reached your usual reading speed, comprehension level starts to decrease, but this doesn’t mean that you should always read slowly and it will always help you in understanding the text better. Many also have a misconception that one should read slowly when reading novels or poetry to appreciate it. This thought is not right; you would miss the rhythm of the text if you go too slow. Hence it is important that you understand your speed of reading does not relate with the comprehension of the text.

Myth 4. You should keep a dictionary with you while reading

Instant lookup to difficult words distracts you and breaks your reading flow. It acts as an obstruction in reading. Mostly you would understand the bigger meaning even if you don’t understand the significance of that particular word. Rather you should highlight the words that you find challenging and revisit them once that reading session is over. This would help both in developing the vocabulary and also improving overall reading experience.

Myth 5. Word-to-word reading is best

When you focus on word to word reading, you have a high tendency of losing the context of the bigger picture. Hence, one should read the complete phrase in one go rather than focusing on individual words. Many people believe that skipping words depicts your laziness. This is not true; rather humans do tend to skip words when focusing on the whole phrase and it is entirely reasonable to do so. Hence, you should not put an extra effort in reading every word of the sentence.

I find the above-listed points helpful and hope that they help you as well. I hope next time you pick up a book, these points will come to your head and will assist you with a better reading experience.

Adios till my next blog, happy reading :)

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Garvit Khatri