How I doubled my reading speed and still learn


There is so much knowledge to gain, new worlds to explore and mentors to learn from — and so little time to do everything!

So, in the interest of optimising efficiency, I ‘hacked’ my reading speed to double it.

Whilst it feels good to be absolutely smashing my ’30 books in 2019′ goal, I keep myself conscious of the fact that the real measure of success is not the number of books read, but rather the amount of learning gained from those books.

I’m going to share a couple of things which work for me in the following areas:

a) Pick up new information
b) Retain new information
c) Reflect and learn from new information

a) Pick up new information

1. How to speed read without loss of comprehension.

Watch this video by Tim Ferriss (9 min 36 seconds).

I recommend you go through the exercises and pause the video to time yourself as instructed.

Doing these easily doubled my regular reading speed. Watching it is well worth your 10 minutes!

I do slow down for fiction, but generally I apply these techniques to more ‘informational’ types of books.

Btw…. Did you initially think he was bald and wearing a black headband instead of an unfortunately flesh-coloured beanie too?

2. Don’t be afraid to skip paragraphs, or stop reading a book altogether. It’s not cheating!

Not all writers are equally great, and not every chapter or paragraph is going to be interesting or relevant to what you’re seeking.

I used to labour through entire books because skipping parts felt like ‘cheating’ or putting it away felt like ‘quitting’, but honestly… Ain’t nobody got time for that!

3. Set time aside for reading.

The most important thing for reading is to, well, actually read.

I schedule a couple of hours every weekend to read, always read on the plane, and sometimes read on public transport or before bed.

It definitely helps if you know how much time you’ll need to set aside for a book to organize your time accordingly – and also decide how many books to bring along when you’re travelling!

For that reason, I use the app Bookly which tracks my reading speed and estimates the amount of time to completion.

Bookly (iOS), Android version here


b) Retain new information

1. Save the nuggets worth saving.

My other favourite feature of Bookly is that I can easily save nuggets of wisdom from the books I read. 

It allows you to upload typed in quotes, take photos of pages and even do ‘image to text’ (very fancy – I use this all the time).

There are very few apps I pay for.

Bookly is one of them.


2. Reinforce by watching or listening to a book.

Reinforce the book you’ve just read by taking it in via another medium.

Consider audio books, or watching videos by the author.

(or, if you prefer, skip reading the book altogether and use these mediums for acquiring new information instead!)

Blinkist does some great ‘bite-sized’ summaries of key learnings that can usually be listened to or read in 20 minutes or less.

I don’t recommend it for all books, however, as it tends to grossly oversimplify content: it did zero justice to Sapiens, for example.

But, it’s still handy for you to quickly judge whether or not a book might be worth reading further (I won’t be reading Steve Jobs’ biography…)

This is another rare app that I have the paid version of, although it was company-sponsored this time. Hurray!

Blinkist (iOS), Android version here

c) Reflect and learn from new information

1. Take time to reflect by writing a review after each reading.

I used to log reviews on my phone’s notes but now share these on my goodreads account.

To avoid the allure of procrastination, I do this right after finishing a book, not spending more than a couple of minutes summarizing at least 3 key takeaways and some feels I had about the book.

For more personal takeaways, I do this on my public blog.

Just joking. I journal.

2. Find or start a bookclub!

Asides from quick reviews, what really helps me reflect is having someone to discuss it with.

I’m fortunate to have someone dear to me who’s an equally voracious reader to geek out about whatever book we’re currently reading and debate about whether we agree / disagree with the author, what we found relevant to try and apply to our lives, or share a new perspective we’d gained.

Friends and the goodreads community are great starting points to find your own bookworm buddy!

I’ve always been curious about everything and constantly on the lookout for adventure to learn new things — and yet, somewhere along my teenage and young adult life, I’d forgotten that sometimes these adventures could be had whilst curled up on my couch.

I’m glad to have returned to my longtime love for reading, and I hope this was useful for you to do the same.

Let me know what you’re currently reading in the comments, or give a shout on goodreads!

As usual, I’ll be sharing my posts every week on Facebook, but feel free to sign up for this blog’s mailing list on the right sidebar.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s