Felix Salmon

The downside of speed-reading

By Felix Salmon
August 13, 2009

Via Tyler Cowen, who reads very fast, comes a video and full instructions on how to do likewise; the trick is to stop subvocalizing.

I note that although Tyler often posts “the best sentence I read today”, it’s invariably interesting and/or provocative, as opposed to simply being a really good sentence. When you read fast and don’t subvocalize, do you start to miss the art of constructing or even just appreciating beautiful sentences? Would a speed reader, for instance, ever be able to write a book like U&I? These are genuine questions, by the way: while I read quite quickly, I don’t speed-read, and I do subvocalize.

3 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Material that must be “digested” — economics and finance, for example, where concepts need to be fully assimilated before proceeding — would seem to be unsuited for speed-reading.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Speed-reading is best suited for scanning, IMHO. If the material is well-written, it should be savoured; if it’s challenging, then it should be taken slowly. And for material that’s unchallenging and written with average or poor style, you don’t really want to spend a huge amount of time on it – hence the speed.


That’s explains a lot. Obviously smart and prolific, but much of his output seems superficial to me. Lots of pronouncements, but not that much argument.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

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