photo credit: Chris Lawton

How to Read the Right Way: A Complete Guide

Melissa Chu
Published in
9 min readMay 15, 2018


Reading is dead.

The nature of books has evolved. Society and technology have changed. Forcibly, our approach to reading has taken on new forms to accommodate a different way of life.

The question is: For better or worse?

Although books give us new ideas, spark discussions, and explore topics in detail, the same information can be delivered in a variety of formats. When it comes to exactly how we should absorbing books, the debate rages on.

Let’s take a look.

The Effectiveness of Speed Reading

Since the 1950s, speed reading has been touted as an effective way to get through reading material quickly. Scientists, psychologists, and teachers have come up with methods to increase reading speed, whether through manual tools or visual movements.

At the World Championship Speed Reading Competition, top contestants can reach 1,000 to 2,000 words per minute. Six-time champion Anne Jones reached 4,200 words per minute at one point.

Those rates seem phenomenal compared to the average adult’s 300 words per minute. So then, what types of strategies are speed readers using?

Here are four common methods:

1. Skimming involves quickly going through passages to find the main points. Instead of combing each word carefully, you go over first and last paragraphs, headings, and similar cues to find key ideas. Scanning, a similar method, involves running your eyes down the text to find certain words and phrases.

2. Meta guiding uses a pointer, such as your index finger or a pen, to guide your eyes along the lines of text. A pointer helps your eyes move horizontally, focusing on the word that you should be reading.

3. Vision span method uses the span of human eyesight to read words in batches. Readers focus their eyesight on one central word, and then use their peripheral vision to see adjacent words. By relying on our peripherals, it’s believed that we can read about five words at once.

4. Rapid serial visual representation (RSVP) is a more recent technique where an electronic reading system displays words one at a time. You can choose the speed…



Melissa Chu

I write about living better, creating great work, and making an impact. Get your guide to achieving your goals at