By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo
A book that motivates us to read books as well as improve our reading and comprehension is the one written by Jim Kwik entitled “Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life.” The author has a fascinating story on how he improved his reading abilities. When he was nine, he had a brain injury that severely slowed down his memory and became three years behind his classmates in reading skill. He made a vow to overcome his reading disability, and today he can recall the names of fifty people from the audience he just met, and recite a string of one hundred numbers forward and back.
The author says that if you’re struggling to improve your mental abilities, it’s either due to a limiting mindset, limited motivation, or a lousy learning method. Here are his methods of achieving the right mindset, and motivation, that can help you improve your reading speed and comprehension.
Limitless Reading Mindset
If you insist you can’t read fast, then your reading speed is fixed. Jim Kwik says, “When you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them.” The key to improving any mental ability is to suspend limiting beliefs and temporarily ‘act as though’ your mental abilities are limitless. Entertain the idea your reading speed is 400% faster than your current reading speed by practicing the following 4‐3‐2‐1 exercise and notice how much your baseline reading speed increases:
Set a timer for four minutes, open an easy-to-read book, and start reading at a comfortable pace while using your finger to underline the words as you read them. When the four‐minute timer expires, mark the point at which you stopped. Go back to where you started, set a timer for three minutes, and get to the point you reached after four minutes of reading. Don’t worry about perfect comprehension; just ensure you see every word. When the three‐minute timer expires, do the same for two minutes. Then one minute.
After this exercise, resume reading the book at a comfortable speed for four minutes. When you compare the number of words you read in the first four minutes of the exercise with the number of words you can now read in four minutes, you will be pleasantly surprised by how
many more words you can read and comprehend. When you suspend your perceived limitations and ‘act as though’ you can read fast (as you did in the final six minutes of the 4‐3‐2‐1 method), you realize more of your potential.
Limitless Reading Motivation
Jim Kwik says, “All learning is state dependent.” If you pick up a book in a peak state of curiosity, wonder, and excitement, you are bound to learn quicker and retain more. Therefore, before you start reading a book, put yourself in a peak state of curiosity by repeatedly asking yourself the following three questions: (1) What great insight will I get from this book? (2) How will this insight forever change my life? (3) When will I get to use this insight?
Limitless Reading Methods
Jim Kwik says, “When was the last time you took a class called reading? For most, it was back in the 4th or 5th grade. And if you’re like most people, your reading skill is probably still the same as it was back then.” If you haven’t changed your reading habits since elementary school, the following three habits are likely limiting your reading speed: regression, subvocalization, and word‐by‐word reading.
Bad reading habit #1: Regression
Regression is the tendency for our eyes to go back and reread certain words in a sentence. Jim Kwik says, “Almost everyone does it to some degree, and most of the time it is done subconsciously.”
Solution: use your finger as a pacer to guide your reading and prevent your eyes from jumping around the text (our eyes love to follow movement). If you move your finger at a pace that’s just on the edge of your perceived max reading speed, it will require your full attention to keep up ‐ more attention equals more retention.
Bad reading habit #2: Subvocalization
Subvocalization is the act of saying the words to yourself in your head as you read.
Solution: quietly count out loud as you read. It’s hard for your mind to subvocalize words and count at the same time. If you count “One, two, three, four, five…” while you read, you will free your mind of the inner narrator and train your brain to see the words on the page as images and turn what you’re reading into a mental motion picture experience.
Bad reading habit #3: Word‐by‐word reading
When you first learned how to read, you trained your eyes to look at one word at a time. But now you’re familiar with most words and have the ability to absorb multiple words at a single glance. Instead of reading “The | boy | walked | home,” you can read those four words
as a single word chunk. To read multiple words at a single glance, you will need to expand your visual reading field by learning to use your peripheral vision. Try the free Chrome Extension ‘Spreed’ (or equivalent program) on your computer to train your visual reading field to
view large words chunks at a glance (Spreed takes a body of text in your browser and displays the text back to you in single word chunks).
When you start using these three methods: pacing, counting, and expanding/word chunking, you’ll feel a little awkward. If you continue using them, however, you’ll start to see your speed and reading comprehension improve dramatically.