By Keith Drury, Associate Professor, Indiana Wesleyan University
MYTH 1: Reading is linear. I had always figured reading was a linear process; you know, start up front and grind through to the very end in the exact order it was printed. Wrong. Reading is no more linear than thinking, (or I eventually discovered, than writing; few writers start at the beginning—they usually “write the first part last.” Get rid of the myth that you must always read in sequence.
MYTH 2: True reading is word-for-word. As a child I looked at the individual letters. They didn’t help much. Next I started sounding out syllables. Finally, I could read whole words. Why stop with words? Well, I know one reason. I once had a college professor who made us swear we had “read every single word” of our collateral reading. Why? He didn’t make us swear we’d “read every single letter.” The answer is simple: that professor (like me) had never moved from letters, syllables, and words, to reading phrases, sentences and paragraphs. He assumed the only way to read thoroughly was by the laborious method of reading one word at a time. Get rid of the myth that you must read every word individually.
MYTH 3: Reading is a laborious task which takes a long time. Not at all! Reading can be both fun and fast. Indeed, speed reading is like auto racing—it is far more exciting than a leisurely drive.
MYTH 4: All parts of a book are of equal value. This myth persists until you actually write your own book. Then, all at once you realize how much “filler” material you’ve put into it. Ever heard a boring speech and wished you could press a button and forward over that lengthy story illustrating something you already understand? Well, in speed reading you can fast forward.
MYTH 5: Reading faster will reduce retention. Sorry. It should be that way, but it isn’t. It only seems fair that those who painstakingly grind slowly through a book sounding out every word in their head should get a greater reward shouldn’t they? Sorry. Life isn’t always fair. In fact, speed reading techniques increase our comprehension and retention.
So, having banished the myths about reading, get started!