Saturday, October 10, 2009

You Can't Speed Read Life.....

In another life I taught speed reading. We used projectors to rapidly display phrases at set intervals and then tested for retention and comprehension. Being a tad on the competitive side (I check my neighbor's mailbox to make sure I get more mail) I worked hard at getting to the point where I could comprehend larger groups of words at faster and faster speeds.

John F. Kennedy reportedly read at an incredible 2,000 words a minute at 80% comprehension. I never reached those speeds but I read constantly though I fear I have been less than selective about the minutia I have stored in my head. For instance, while in Viet Nam I read Tolstoy's "War and Peace," Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago," and (the rebel that I was) "The Quotations of Chairman Mao." (I even relished carrying the Little Red Book in front of officers). But most of the time I devoured books by Louis Lamour whose westerns I could read in a couple of hours or Robert Heinlein escapest science fiction. I even read "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy two or three more times as well as Tolkien's lesser known works.

I still read every magazine article that happens to be within reach though while in the military I occasionally looked at the pictures too. :)

I don't speed read anymore. Or maybe I can't. My eyes don't move as smoothly from line to line and I find myself rereading a sentence to be sure I grasped the full meaning of the prose.

I once looked forward to retiring so I could read the great works that I never got around to. Now I guess I'll have to pick a "Bucket List" of literature and hope I find the time.


This post was inspired by Jimmy Bastard whose recent blog,
"Silence of Speech" made me slow down and really read.


  1. Hi Bob, you look like a champion. We had a good weekend, went to a friend's house to watch the Badgers play (WI), they lost, but Kel enjoyed being with all, the guys started up a dart game after the game, Kel was ok with not playing, he can't throw a dart anymore. But his spirits were good, and he enjoyed watching. I won't let myself go too far into the future, but occasionally I will cry looking out at the golf course and know we will never enjoy our dream. Karla

  2. Karla,
    Kel and I must have been seperated at birth (except for the age thing). I loved darts and it was one of the first things I found I just couldn't do. Well, if Kel is like me, I could still throw a dart but I had lost my high expectation of hitting what I was trying for.

    I have a post in mind that you'll need to share with him.

    Superwoman (my wife) tries to tough it out in front of me too. The result is that we both become emotionless around each other. I know that is not good, but I don't know the answer....but I'm working on it.

    Hugs to the both of you!

  3. Your have an excellent taste for books -I love Tolkien too- and were very brave reading Mao and Soljenitsin in Vietnam.

    I sometimes thought of learning to speed read, because I dont have enough time to read as much as I'd like, but I never did. SO I still practice the snail read thing.

    Thank you for recommending Jimmy Bastard's post "Silence of Speech". I enjoyed reading it -slowly-.

    Take care.

  4. Speed reading... bike racing... running... competitive mailing... emotionless coping... sounds like you've just BLOWN thru life at a FAST n EZ pace! Maybe at this point in your life (tho a seemingly crummy one) you can (will)(have to) SLOW DOWN and SMELL THE ROSES... not to mention all your other gorgeous flowers you pick n arrange for your Superwoman (SuperWIFE!)

  5. Life flows at it's own speed. Feel Good today!



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