How to Read a Full Novel in Less than Two Hours with No Special Training

This is the equivalent of reading an 80,000 word novel in under two hours

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Like everyone, I’m bombarded with content. The more I try to read, the more stuff I seem to uncover. I read a lot, but I’m not the fastest reader. I get distracted. My eyes are all over the page. When I read for pleasure, I’m not so concerned with my reading speed, but if the reading is all business, I like to cram it in the gray matter as fast as possible.

I’ve tried multiple different speed-reading techniques.

I put in the old, college effort, but for every method I’ve tried I walked away angry. Even with a few weeks’ diligent practice. I know traditional speed-reading methods work for many people, but they haven’t worked for me.

There’s something about reading while using my finger as a guide, I find really off-putting. Other methods, where you train yourself to scan the center of the page, using peripheral vision to see the ends of each sentence, weren’t much better for me.

Honestly, I’d given up on speed-reading altogether.

My reading speed has improved over years of reading a lot, but my to-be-read book collection grows faster than my ability to whittle it down. I feel like I have to compromise — either read the ever-growing pile of digital content, or read for pleasure — but I can’t have both.

Last night I found my golden answer.

Two answers, actually. The increase in reading speed is instant. You start slower and work your way to super-human. You’ll soon have the ability to read 800–1000 words per minute. Yeah, that’s per minute! Faster than thinking speed.

The only downside is these are web applications. They only work with digital text. If you want to curl-up with a paper book, you’re stuck reading at your original rate.

But now I can read for business and pleasure in the same day.

For most of us, the content we want to plow-through is on the web — Medium content for example. And this little app works great for Medium (although I don’t know what impact it will have for an author’s reader-counts).

Ready?

The first app is a free browser plug-in called Spritz (I have absolutely no affiliation with either app I’ll share here). This is an on-page reader that can read any html text. For example, if I want to read a Medium post at 800 wpm, all I do it open the post, click the Spritz tab in my bookmarks, the little app opens automatically and starts reading the page.

This is a screenshot of the Spritz app reading this article)

The free version can only read up to 100 wpm. If you want to crank your reading level to warp speed, you’ll have to fork over the tiny annual fee of $3.99. Worth every penny.

Ok, so Spritz works with web pages.

But what if you want to read a long .doc file or PDF? Here’s where the second app comes in. This is a web app called Readsy. This one is also done by the same guy who invented Spritz.

All you do is copy/paste the text into the Readsy web app, select your reading speed and the app does all the work. Have a PDF? Copy/paste the address of the file and Readsy converts it into their format and starts reading.

Got a document on your computer?

Readsy has you covered there too. All you do is click the button and upload your PDF. Boom.

The Readsy online interface

These two apps area a reading game-changer.

They both work by presenting you the entire text, one word at a time. You don’t move your eyes or your head. One target letter of each word is colored red, to keep your eyes focused on the word.

The entire process of reading one word at a time, without moving your head, seems like I’d would be hard to adjust to. It’s not. I found this one- box reading method really easy to grasp.

I’ll spend a lot more time testing these two apps over the coming month.

If I uncover any additional pitfalls I’ll share them in a follow-up piece. Although you can’t read Kindle or iBooks with these apps, Readsy will read e-pub books. This means you’ve got the entire Project Gutenberg library at your disposal too.

Good luck and happy reading.


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August Birch (AKA the Book Mechanic) is both a fiction and non-fiction author from Michigan, USA. A self-proclaimed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indie authors how to write books that sell and how to sell more of those books once they’re written. When he’s not writing or thinking about writing August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.