Did you know apart from being iconic US Presidents what George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy had in common that helped them immensely in discharging their onerous responsibilities? They were all accomplished speed readers. They pursued speed reading techniques assiduously and imbibed them so well that they increased their reading speed without sacrificing comprehension and recall. Among the techniques that they must have used one of them, probably, was avoiding bad reading habits. Bad reading habits affect not only your reading speed but also your ability to comprehend and recall.
Do you want to increase your reading speed? To do so, you must review your reading habits and identify the ones that hinder your speed, comprehension and recall. Once you have identified the bad habits you must work towards eliminating them.
We have put together the following eight bad habits that we think most people have, and what is more, we have come up with tips to overcome them. Check them out and be on the way to becoming a good reader.
1. Speed reading is a habit not suitable if you don’t master it.
Speed reading is a great habit if you can master it. Top political leaders and top businessmen running countries and businesses respectively use speed reading to get through reports and briefs quickly. When mastered, speed reading is excellent to read more material in less time. With speed reading techniques you can read more articles in newspapers and magazines by scanning columns as opposed to individual words. Columns in newspapers are designed for speed reading.
2. Reading in poor light.
Reading in poor light is a bad habit. You must remember that just as it is difficult to navigate a dark street without street lighting it is difficult to read a book or magazine or whatever you are reading without good lighting. More often than not, what is written is misunderstood by a reader because of a missed punctuation mark on account of poor lighting. Ensure direct light either from the sun or artificial lighting falls on the written page from above you, preferably from the left. This would help you to see the reading material clearly without missing any of the words or punctuation marks. Further, good lighting reduces strain on your eye muscles; you don’t have to squint to read clearly.
3. Reading the end first.
Reading the ending just after you start the book is another unsavoury habit. If you are reading a thriller with loads of suspense built into the plot you miss out on the thrill of unravelling the mystery page by page. Well, what is the point in reading further after you know the killer? Reading the book becomes an academic exercise. One way to break this habit is to predict the killer at every twist and turn. When you reach the end of the book, if it turns out that your prediction was right, then the thrill is really something to savour and you can’t wait to read the next thriller.
4. Reading with poor posture such as while lying in bed.
Reading with poor posture such as while lying in bed is a habit that is not conducive to serious reading. If you are reading your textbooks lying down it is cumbersome to take down notes. The best posture is to sit straight-backed on a comfortable chair with the book held below the eyes at a 60-degree angle and at a distance of fifteen inches from the eyes. While the distance can be managed while lying down it is difficult to manage the angle. The unnatural angle not only strains the eyes but also strains other parts of the body such as the arms, neck, legs and spine. The only way to break this habit is to be resolute (almost like breaking the bad habit of smoking).
5. Judging the book by its cover.
Often, a book’s cover attracts you with its gloss, arresting photographs, and attractive graphics. The title, set in gold letters, entices you to buy the book. Sometimes, you flip through the pages cursorily before deciding to buy. After buying the book and reading through the first twenty odd pages you really wonder if this was the book you wanted to read, and you are so disappointed that you don’t want to read through further. You feel let down so much that you throw the book in a corner never to be touched again.
At the same time, you recall the deceptively dull and simple book that you bought in a second-hand book shop and what a great read it turned out to be.
So, don’t judge a book just by its cover. Read through the copy on the front and back of the cover page as also the back page and determine if the book is for you. Sometimes, reading through the first two or three pages could also help you to make up your mind.
6. Flipping pages.
Flipping pages to finish a book is a bad habit. Often, when you skip pages you want to go back to refer because you found something which was not making sense. Again, you may never know some of the important parts of the book that the writer has penned. One way of overcoming this habit is to take a break when you feel like flipping pages.
7. Reading more than one book at a time.
Reading more than one book at a time is not a good habit as you will not be able to do justice to any of the books. These kind of activities are best left to the Napoleons of the world. As it is, a book, say a thriller, by itself has many twists and turns and it is difficult to keep track of the plot. So, why add more complication by starting another book at the same time? Just ask yourself the question ‘Why should I start another book when I have not finished the one I am reading now,’ and if you can find a rational answer then go ahead and read two or more books at a time.
8. Folding the edge of the page to use it as a marker.
Folding the edge of the page to use it as a marker is among the most obnoxious habits ever possible. This habit ensures the quick mutilation of the book especially if you are a frequent start and stop reader. God help you if the book is borrowed from a book connoisseur. This habit can be broken in no time with a book marker.
Do you have the bad habits, as recounted above, that we think most people have? Be honest with yourself and isolate the bad habits that you have. Follow the tips given to eliminate them. We know it is not easy to break habits. But, all habits can be broken and we are not suggesting that you break all habits. We are asking you to only break the bad habits. They will do wonders for your reading pleasure, and what is more, you will suddenly find more time to read more.