Why reading 100 books a year won’t make you successful

Aytekin Tank
The Startup
Published in
8 min readSep 13, 2018

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Originally published on JOTFORM.COM

Reading is trending.

The internet’s taken something uncool and given it a makeover.

Reading is the new kale: worth stomaching because it’s Good For Us.

So good, in fact, that we should do as much of it as we can. More is more! Everyone should be reading one book a week — no, wait, one book a day.

That’s why Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Elon Musk are successful, after all.

The more we read, the smarter we’ll get.

But where to find the time? We have to do it faster, faster, and faster still!

Blog posts tell us How To Read 300% Faster In 20 minutes! Or, How To Trick Yourself Into Reading More Books!

Speed reading has become a competitive sport: a race to see who can devour the New York Times Bestseller list quickest.

Reading is one of my greatest pleasures. Indeed, I have often shared how learning from others has helped me to bootstrap JotForm to 4 million users.

But all this stuff about speed, targets and numbers?

The truth about speed reading

Speed reading has recently picked up, well, speed, but it’s been around for decades.

President Kennedy could supposedly read about 1,200 words a minute. It later transpired that he made that number up.

According to the 1990 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records, Howard Berg could read over 80 pages of text per minute. But reading specialist Mark Pennington clarified this was a lie that Guinness failed to check.

And that’s not all. Research has consistently debunked speed-readers claims, and science offers an equally strong rebuttal.

As the professor and eye tracking researcher Keith Rayner explains, techniques like simultaneously reading large segments of the page aren’t biologically or psychologically possible, due to the limitation of our foveal viewing area.

An entire page can’t be read at once. Zig-zagging down one page doesn’t work. The human eye just isn’t up to it.

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Aytekin Tank
The Startup

Founder and CEO of www.jotform.com || Bestselling author of Automate Your Busywork. Find more at https://aytekintank.com/ (contact: AytekinTank@Jotform.com)