How I Read a Book a Day As a Dyslectic
In the past, it was considered vital to read piles of books in order to be successful and become the best version of oneself.
Think of Warren Buffett or Bill Gates. They both claim to have read 6-8 hours a day as youths!
The past was not really friendly for dyslexia though. The means of acquiring information was limited to mostly reading. There were some other options such as seminars or actual face-to-face mentoring but I doubt that these two things were accessible for everyone.
Well, Cheer up! 2017 and forward is, in my opinion, the best time to live as someone who has troubles reading. The way people are delivering information is changing. We are starting to use our ears too and in a big way.
I used to be able to read a book a week.
Well, judge for yourself what I could do around 5 years ago.
Being on a holiday and doing nothing else but reading, I could read a book a week. My average speed of reading was around 10 pages of A4s per hour. That is 560 pages a week, If you read 8 hours a day.
Most of you are probably saying now:
“This is an incredibly inefficient way of acquiring knowledge and education. “
And I agree with you completely.
As I became a university student, I realized that without reading tons of books, I could not hope for good grades. And so, out of desperation, I slowly started experimenting. Here, I want to share with you tips that I kept and still using today.
My 5 Principles of reading
1) Try out different fonts and letter size:
After measuring my reading speed with different fonts, I ended up performing the best with either Bookerly or OpenDyslexic. The best size of letters turned up to be 16.
The best thing you can do is either copy my settings or perform an easy experiment yourself and see what’s best for you.
Here is how you can do it:
- After a good night’s sleep, pick a font and a size and do 10 minutes of reading. Use a software to count the number of words you read during the 10-minute interval. After lunch, read again for 10 minutes and write down the number of words you’ve managed to read. After dinner, do the same thing. At the end of the day, you should have 3 numbers of word counts. (2800, 2700, 2400 for example). Now calculate an average by adding the numbers up and dividing them by 3. In my example, I get 2633 words per 10 minutes.
- The next day, pick a different font but keep the same size of letters and repeat the process. You will end up again with 3 numbers of which you take the average. (Let’s say I get 2700, 2400, 2300). Then my average is 2466 and I can see that the second day’s font was considerably worse.
- You can keep on with as many fonts as you want. The key is to have a different font per day.
- When you’ve established your best font, you can keep the font fixed and do the same thing with the letter size. Again, a specific letter size per day.
- The important thing here is to keep as many independent variables fixed as possible during your experiment. By independent variables I mean: the duration of sleep, things that you do during the day, stress level and happiness level in general. You should think of it as being in a lab where the only things that are changing are dependent variables of your choice – font and letter size.
2) Whispersync function:
Amazon’s audible has a function which they call immersion reading. The titles which support this are labeled Whispersync for voice-ready.
It is basically like your mother reading you when you were young. ^_^
What I usually do is to look up the book on Amazon.com or any other Amazon (for example Amazon UK) and see if the book has Whispersync for voice-ready.
You can see that if you buy the Kindle version of a book, you tend to get a discount for its audio version.
Then, you can basically listen to and read the book simultaneously.
The reason why I am talking about it here is simple. You can speed up the narrator and boost your reading speed quite a bit.
Anytime, I have available both an audio and a kindle version of a book, I am able to go through the book 2-3 times quicker than if I just read it. The trick is to get used to the sped up audio recording.
So hit the speed up bottom! ^_^
An average-sized book has roughly 8 hours of listening. I encourage you to challenge yourself and turn the speed up a bit. At first, you might feel as if you are not able to pay attention to all the information, but, from my experience, you will gradually get used to it and probably speed it up even more. It is all about training. You can get as much as 3-4 hours per a book.
3) A speech function
With Siri and Alexa being born, a free alternative to Audible.com has shown up. On the internet, there are hundreds of free applications which robotically read any text you choose. Function Speech is great for reading Kindle books or PDFs.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Speech, where you can turn it on.
I use this function all the time when I have to read a pdf book or an academic paper. However, do not expect that your comprehension will be at its maximum at first. Because it is read by a program, it is understandable that sometimes a word or two are pronounced wrongly. It is easy to get used to it but it takes time.
Good news is that in the very near future, this technology is bound to improve. Some people say that in 3-5 year horizon, we will not be able to recognize a human-read text from the program-read one.
4) Reduce stress level before reading
It is a common sense that if you are stressed out your reading gets slower and your comprehension decreases.
There are many proven ways how to reduce stress and even boost your learning ability at the same time.
You can try following:
- Get some exercise early in the morning before reading.
- Try meditation or a flow-state activity.
- Eat healthy
- Get more sleep (7-9 hours is perfect for most people)
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
The effect of stress on reading is very hard to measure because it is nearly impossible to control for all the variables of interest. However, from my experience, I feel like I can read about 50 words more per minute while I am relaxed.
5) Practice reading out loud
The final principle which I am still following is occasionally reading aloud for about 15 minutes and then going back to a silent reading. The thing is, when you read aloud, you are getting familiar with the words that you are reading much more. This study suggests that reading aloud can boost reading skills due to the improvement on focus attention and processing speed.
The way most dyslectics are able to improve their reading-speed is to slowly get familiar with the visual look of every word. This is the reason why most of us slow down noticeably when we read a topic which has many unfamiliar words.
The Bottom line on reading and acquiring information.
I know it takes a long time before someone who reads very slowly can finally read a book a week. (Or even a book a day with our approach. ^_^)
I certainly was not able to do it when I was 10, or 17 for that matter.
I think the most important thing is to believe that change is possible and do not listen to the people who claim otherwise.
Impossible is not a fact… It’s an opinion. What’s impossible only remains so until someone finds a way to do what others are sure can’t be done.
By Tony Robbins
When I first heard this quote, I resonated with it at once.
Let’s go back 9 years ago and think of Usain Bolt who improved on his first 100m World Record of 9,69 with 9,58 seconds in 2009. I doubt this guy has the word “impossible” in his dictionary.
Be your own researcher and experiment what best works for you and what doesn’t and I am telling you that you will get better at not only reading but at everything else in your life.
Before I sign off, I just want to point out that reading is not the only source of information out there. Going into 2017-2018, videos (youtube) and audio podcasts are becoming more and more popular.
Likewise, on the internet, there are plenty of online courses which will widen your knowledge as well. As I said at the beginning of this article, we are having splendid days ahead of us.