How to Read 100 Pages in an Hour

I don’t claim to be a huge speed reader, but I have to admit that from my informal blog survey, I do read a lot faster than most people.  I’ve been reading lots of books since I was very young, so I’ve had a lot of practice at reading quickly.  It’s something that seemingly came naturally to me, but looking back I can now actually point to some things that helped me become the reader I am today.  So I’ll share them with you now with the caveat that while they work for me, they may not necessarily work for you.

1.  Read aloud frequently.

Reading aloud is a whole different animal than silent reading, believe me.  When you read aloud frequently you have to be confident, change your tone of voice to engage your audience, add certain vocal inflections to convey different meanings and sometimes even sneak a peak ahead so you don’t stumble upon larger words you don’t necessarily know.  I know it may sound weird, but reading aloud even once a week can actually help your reading because it forces you to put more thought into the text itself.  What message is the author trying to convey?  What does their word choice say about their writing style, the characters and the tone of the story?

So what does this have to do with reading quickly?  Well, when you’re speed reading you have to be able to pick up on things like the author’s tone more quickly than you’re used to.  You actually have to think a lot faster and reading aloud prepares you for that because you’re practicing analyzing the text as you read.  Once you can analyze the tone of any text you’re reading aloud without thinking about it, analyzing the text you’re trying to speed read will come more easily.

2.  If you don’t know how to already, learn to touch type.

Some of you are probably thinking “There are people that don’t know how to touch type?”  Well, there are and I was once one of them.  I had to put years into learning how to touch type and now I can type 80wpm on average.  Blogging daily definitely forces you to learn how to touch type because when you’re writing an 1100 word post you really don’t have the time to finger peck your way through it.

So that brings me to your next probable question: What does this have to do with speed reading?  It’s quite simple actually.  Touch typing forces you to think more quickly than you normally would.  When you’re finger pecking you don’t have to think very quickly, but if you’re touch typing even 30 or 40 wpm you have to think a lot faster.  The ability to conjure sentences on the fly is important because like reading aloud it forces you to think quickly about what you’re reading/writing (assuming you read over your sentences later).  By being able to analyze your own writing more quickly, being able to pick out plot points, characters and important information in fiction will come more easily.

3.  Stop sub-vocalizing.

So now we’re getting into some of the tired-and-true speed reading techniques.  This point is worth re-iterating, though.  Sub-vocalizing can seriously slow you down and there’s really no need for it.  It’s a habit we develop when we first learn to read so it’s hard to break, but you can get rid of it.

Sub-vocalizing is basically saying the word in your head and hearing it.  In reality you don’t need to do that.  Just try it with the previous sentence: read it to yourself without ‘saying’ the words.  It’s okay if you don’t get it the first time; it takes a lot of practice.  I’ve only just started to break my sub-vocalization habit but already I can tell it’s helping me speed up.  I personally can read and digest material without sub-vocalizing, but for some people it’s necessary to ‘hear’ the character’s voices in their heads.  It makes them more realistic, which I completely understand.

One thing I found really useful for getting rid of sub-vocalizing is repeating a simple phrase over and over in your head: 1, 2, 3,4 or A, B, C.  You’ll be so focused on saying that phrase over and over that you will be able to read and comprehend without sub-vocalizing the actual words you’re reading.

4.  Don’t backtrack unless you really have to.

Most sentences only need to be read once in order for comprehension to occur.  Yet I find that a lot of people will read a sentence or two then go back (usually unconsciously) and re-read those same sentences.  It’s not necessarily unless the sentence is overly long and complicated or makes no sense grammatically.  Still, it’s a bad reading habit and this one is actually pretty easy to get rid of.

I used to do this a little bit and what helps is having a sheet of paper, bookmark or ruler and covering up the text you’ve just read.  Read one line, cover it up and move onto the next one.  It’ll slow you down for a little while, but it will also help you resist the temptation to re-read a sentence unnecessarily.  Once you’re sure you aren’t backtracking anymore, stop using your prop and read normally.  Are you still backtracking?  Then go back and spend some more time with the line method.

5.  Avoid distractions.

If you’re serious about increasing your reading speed, the best and easiest way is to eliminate all those unnecessary distractions.  Turn off your cellphone, turn the music down a little so you can focus, etc.  I know this isn’t always possible because of things like kids, significant others, pets, location of reading, etc.  But when you’re sitting down to seriously practice your speed reading, eliminate as many distractions as possible.  You’ll be surprised how much faster you are at reading.

6.  Practice!

It floors me that some people who read books only once a week think they can learn to speed read overnight.  Well I have some news for you: You may be able to learn to speed read when you only read once a week, but it’ll take longer than if you practice almost every day.  Seriously, learning how to speed read is like learning a new language: if you’re serious you try to set aside some time every single day to practice even if it’s only a few minutes.

22 comments

    • Carrie Slager

      Thanks! I think sometimes you just have too much on your plate so you don’t have as much time to read as I do. Time is definitely an important factor and I know it’s hard to snatch time for yourself when you’re a parent.

    • Carrie Slager

      I used to do it a lot and I could still read fast, but I find that when I mostly eliminated it I can read a lot faster. Some books you want to digest slowly, but others…well you just want to rush through as quickly as you can.

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  3. bibliophilesisters

    I didn’t even realize I was sub vocalizing, but when I read that paragraph I instantly knew what you were talking about though I had never heard the term before. I definitely read so much faster if I’m not doing this. Great article!! ~A

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  5. lostbeyondthewall

    It’s interesting that you mentioned reading aloud. This is something that I’ve always done, and when I mentioned it to my flat mate just the other week, he looked at me like I had two heads! It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  6. Leigh (LittleBookStar)

    I really love your tips. I definitely need to work on #3 and especially #5 because I get distracted WAY easily. Sometimes I can’t help myself to check Twitter or fall asleep even if the story is really good.

    -leigh

    • Carrie Slager

      Fair enough! But as I’m sure you know, it’s hard to read a book if you’re trying to text someone at the same time, carry on a Twitter conversation, etc. In a perfect world there would be no reading distractions, but the world is far from perfect.

    • Carrie Slager

      As I’ve said frequently on this blog, I strive for good grammar but I know I will never have perfect grammar. The tone of this blog is more conversational, so I do start sentences with words like ‘and’, ‘so’ and ‘but’. I’ve been known to write run-on sentences as well as ignore the Oxford comma style. I know I’m not perfect and that not every sentence is a work of art.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my piece.

  7. Neal Kind

    Hi!Can you seriously read 100 pages in an hour?If you can that’s amazing!I just started following you after reading a couple of your posts I think they are kinda cool…How long have you been reading all these books?did you ever read one book more than once?
    I’ve read Harry Potter series like five times and the Hunger Games like thrice..They are the best 🙂

    • Carrie Slager

      Of course I can read 100 pages in an hour. I wouldn’t be claiming to otherwise. 🙂

      Yes, I’ve read books more than once, sometimes before and sometimes after posting reviews. I’ve always been an avid reader and average something like 200 books per year. I know not everyone has so much time to read all of those books, but my speed-reading certainly helps.

  8. Rachel

    Oh. My. Word. I didn’t even know sub-vocalising was a “thing”, I thought that’s just how humans work!! Lol I tried doing the “1,2,3,4” thing while reading the rest of the post and man it’s hard!! Have to say though, when I could get through a whole sentence without verbalising it in my head I read much quicker. I sub-vocalise when I write too, but I’m guessing that bit can’t be helped?! Lol R x

    • Carrie Slager

      Yeah, I don’t think sub-vocalizing while writing is easy to stop because you have to think before you write. I sub-vocalize when I’m reading to enjoy but I tend not to when I have to read through a text and absorb information quickly, like in instructions at work. It’s a handy skill, but it’s certainly not one I’m practicing all of the time.

  9. Lady Fancifull

    A really interesting post, Carrie, but, playing devil’s advocate, I’ve become conscious of the need to slow down, not speed up reading. This is a bit of a rant, but everything seems based on rush and multi task and one of the challenges I find in reviewing regularly is that it leads me to rush, rather than mindfully savour the reading journey. Obviously speed reading is incredibly helpful for factual reports etc, but where a writer is skilled, crafted, carefully and accurately writing, they are working as much to slow the reader down as to take them forward, like a piece of music where the pauses between notes, as in minimalism, are as much a part of the piece. If I am racing with a book I almost feel like I’m failing to notice and honour the craft in the writing. I love writers who can turn a sentence on the brilliant choice if a single word, like poets do.

    • Carrie Slager

      That’s very true and for good books, I really don’t advocate speed reading and don’t practice it myself. But if you have to get through something, say for school or for work, then speed reading really is the answer and it helps to practice on fiction. Especially fiction you don’t like.

      Like you, I definitely don’t like rushing a good book but sometimes either with information you need to assimilate quickly or books you need to finish pronto, it is necessary. 🙂

  10. Terry

    Can you read 100 pph while subvocalizing? Although I can abandon subvocalization, but everything seems a-lot more dull without it; I guess thats the trade off huh?

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