Recommended Speed Reading Books?

Here’s a nice app for iPhone and iPad that allows you to practice speed reading of public domain books:


I also recommend this book. I’ve doubled my reading rate after doing this course, and I can read comfortably at over 1000 WPM now with good comprehension. However, I’ll warn you beforehand that speedreading requires more concentration than regular reading, and it’s not nearly as enjoyable.

Have anyone tried PHOTOREADING? Is it true? Actually i’ve been learning and found it difficult to follow these instructions. Highly appreciated any your experiences.

I’m curious as to the why vocalising the words you are reading internally is considered a problem.

I really can’t even imagine not “hearing” the words as I read them. I don’t physically mouth the words as I read, but I certainly hear each individual word. What do you get to input if you don’t hear the words? Do non vocalisers just get the meaning of what’s been read and not hear the words at all?

Some years ago I read some of the Buzan Speed reading book. I didn’t finish it for some reason, but I know my reading speed got up to about 500 wpm from about 250 even though I only got about a third of the way through.

Even so, if I want to read something “well” or quickly, I’ll use a pen as pointer to guide my eyes along each line. When scanning for information I’ll whip down the page very quickly once or twice for two or three seconds and the word/phrase I’m looking for generally appears. I think that’s where the speed comes in useful, in finding information; when reading a book for enjoyment I sometimes use a pointer as I’m getting tired as it will stop the back-skipping and rereading, but I’ll take it at a moderate pace so I can enjoy the writing.

I had a chance to participate in one of Tony Buzan’s mind mapping and speed reading seminars a few years ago - whilst i liked the mind mapping side - I thought the speed reading was a lot of hogwash! Most of the seminar attendees seemed to be buying into the “ohh look i can only read 200 wpm but after 30 minutes training I can read 4000 wpm” thing.
I just don’t see it myself, you can maybe double your speed by applying some techniques but anything more than doubling your reading speed, comprehension and retention of what you are reading drops off exponentially the faster you go.

I took Photoreading I was disappointed with it. Photoreading’s developer Paul Scheele took a course called Subliminal Dynamics which was suppose to teach people to mentally photograph a page at a time. Scheele “borrowed” some on the techniques without permission to start his own program. He couldn’t use all of the techniques without getting sued. The missing techniques are critical to the success of the skill. Before you run out and get the Subliminal Dynamics course, the skill requires that you are an excellent hypnotic subject capable or reaching deep trance and be capable of hypermnesia. Very few people can do that. I don’t know if it is still true; Subliminal Dynamics, was a required course in a university at one time. It incorporated biofeedback techniques to achieve deep alpha or theta brainwave state. You have to maintain that state while flipping pages. Very hard to do most people come out of the state if the fumble turning the pages.

It’s not a book but here is a website which is actually a tool that makes you read faster. It wont train you to read faster but it will make you read faster if you use it. It uses the flashing word technique. Paste the text you want to speed read in the box and then just hit “start”

I just started reading Breakthrough Rapid Reading by Peter Kump as recommended by a user above…and within about 10 minutes I can read 8% faster…It’s supposedly a 6 week program but I want to finish it in about a month…so I will post again in that time for my final results

I liked these two books:

I tried almost all speedreading programs out there including PhotoReading, Howard Berg’s program, etc. and gave them at least 6 months each of testing. But after a couple of years, I decided to quit.

There’s a lot of factors when it comes to reading speed and comprehension, which makes it difficult for speedreading programs to work for a lot of people. Here are some factors:

  1. Your knowledge base
  2. Sleep
  3. Focus
  4. Eye control
  5. Sentence construction
  6. Having English as a Second Language - I even talked over the phone with Howard Berg and I explained how his program might not work with people who don’t have English as their native language. He said that it can be done through practice.
  7. Slower construction of mental images that go along with the words
  8. And many more.

As for PhotoReading, I’m skeptical about the hypnosis part of it that gives you a little bit of overconfidence that you can read and retain the material quickly. Yes this program has a lot of expert testimonials, but it’s unknown whether it really works/ed for them. These experts are indeed successful, but correlation does not imply causation.

Conclusion: I might wait for a couple of years more and see if they will develop a scientific-based method that will increase our reading speed and comprehension. Also, I’m sticking to my normal reading speed after seeing a study on the internet wherein they say that your retention of a material increases if you read it with your eyes and hear it at the same time (subvocalization).

(slightly off topic:) What is your current reading speed thealchemist?

Too bad that you quit. I tried all programs too (except PhotoReading) and they seem to work for me.

My reading speed went from 200 wpm to about 1000 wpm. Mind you, my reading speed depends on familiarity with the material, sleep and a lot of other things

English is my second language. Dutch is my native language. However, 95% of all texts I read are in English.
I read over one book of English text per week.

I agree with your list and I also agree with Howard Berg, who in your point 6 says that it can be done.
In any case I am living proof that it could be done.

I am also skeptical about PhotoReading. I have the book here at home, but never had any success with it.
To be honest, I never gave it a serious try for lack of believe in the system.

There is a way for everybody on this forum to reach a higher reading speed.
I recommend 2 websites with programs to help you reach a higher reading speed.
One is the other

What I do is copy/paste a text I want to read into the box and read this at my highest reading speed and maximum chunk size (is amoutn of words to display at the same time).

Then, I double this speed and read the text again. Since I just read the text at my highest speed, I know what the text is about. So even though I miss a lot of words on reading with double speed, I still get the gist of the text.

Then, I triple my speed and read the text again. Now most of the text goes by too fast, but I still try to hang on as much as possible. this will get your brain accustomed to higher reading speeds.

Then I read the text again. Usually I find that my reading speed has improved.
With zapreader one can use the keyboard to move the speed up and down.
This is handy for seeing where one’s maximum speed is.
I guesstimate my highest speed and go up or down until I find a speed that gives me maximum comprehension.

Here is some basic background info if one wants to get into this:

Long, rambling rant ahead. Be warned.

Has anyone done a double-blind experiment on the subject of speed reading?

Someone mentioned how speedreading helped with “Sway.” a book that was similar to Freakonomics. I don’t want to sound high-handed here, but Freakonomics isn’t really a particularly tough read, and it had some significant flaws (google). Sway, as well, is criticized, mainly for being a regurgitation of things other books had already said. I found a very telling bit on the page. “One of the psychological forces you’ll read about in Sway is our tendency to place a higher value on opinions from people in positions of prominence, power, or authority.”

No. You’ll be reminded of it. Stanley Milgram covered the whole thing almost 50 years ago (google). There was actually a fairly good movie made about it (with William Shatner, if I recall correctly). Milgram’s experiments have been reported widely. Not only did he cover the authority-has-power-over-us angle, it’s been an understood phenomenon for centuries. Milgram wasn’t trying to confirm what everyone already knew – that if you give someone a uniform, they start to take charge – he was trying to understand the mechanisms that caused that to occur. Con men have used the same appeal-to-authority ruse for centuries (google the dropped wallet scam). How unexposed to the world would one have to be to not figure this out on one’s own?

Publishing works by the same principle as most businesses: bring in the bucks. A couple weeks ago, Robert Caro finished the latest installment on his series of books on Lyndon Baines Johnson. He’s been writing it since 1982, and it’s up to about 3,000 pages. And for all the literate gruntings and posturings, a very small number of people will buy the latest book. Those who do, and who actually read it, will take weeks probably to get through it. Caro’s work contains many names, places, events, AND the interconnections between those names, places, and events.

A publishing industry based on works such as Caro’s would go bankrupt. There simply are not enough people willing to expend the amount of time and intellectual effort necessary to read such a book. Yes, all the publishers would LIKE to publish stuff like Caro’s. Long, thoughtful, well-researched books about the world we all live in, but they are businessmen and realize that the staff has to get paid and the lights have to stay on.

So out comes Freakonomics, Sway, Who Moved My Cheese?, Chicken Soup for the Soup Nazi Soul, and so forth because they can be cranked out with ease. The editors of these books need no depth of knowledge. The factcheckers (if there were any) are probably fresh out of college, with two years of experience, and have not had a chance to learn any of the deeper ways of spotting flaws. But that’s okay because no one legitimately thinks these books are deserving of better treatment. People read them, feel good about themselves because they read a book, and, because it was so easy to read the book, come back for another. It’s the same business model that made McDonald’s a global power: the food requires no effort, it activates the pleasure centers of the brain, it’s cheap, so you can have a lot of it, and you can stop there every day.

And the people in publishing know this. They crank out shlock, and the occasional great book, because no other model would enable them to continue to make a living. And, regardless of how full-of-moral-indignation publishers get, that’s what they’re in it for: continuing to get a pay check. They want to make a living, and the way to do that is to keep the shelves full of simple, easy-to-read, flawed-logic books that the masses can read and smirk to themselves about. The people who produce these speed reading programs are the same. They aren’t going to one day stand there and say, “Yeah, you caught us. This junk doesn’t work. But people THINK it works, and who are we to tell them it isn’t so? Do you think I want to go back to selling double-paned windows?”

Until some double-blind experiments are conducted, I’m sticking to Carl Sagan’s maxim about extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence. Let’s have these speed readers assemble. Some appropriately arcane and dense books can be assembled, and we can start getting some hard data.

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Thanks for the warning.

Don’t know.

This is true - extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence.
As much as I know that claims exist of 10,000 - 25,000 wpm, even 2,000,000 wpm (sic - here: ), I consider such outrageous claims bulls**t.

My maximum speed is a 1,000 wpm on a sunny day when I am rested and I am fairly familiar with the subject.
I usually read slower though.

Having said that, I would love to break my personal speed barrier!

did anyone ever see paul mckenna do the photoreading i never found anything but the reference in the photoreading
also hypnosis will may you relaxed this make you stay in the alpha wave.also thing like steping into the character like a suit of clothes can drasticaly change a learning curve because you are really analyzing what they do so musicians play the scale or pianist play the scale and lets say three notes at a time descending the scale in different ways then using two notes and so on and keep going to lower octaves (this is just to show you could build dexterity and some lite skill quickly without any lessons maybe google to seem brilliant for a few seconds in maybe a day. you could even accidently sound out the scale like i did because you play the notes and hear a weird sound that doesn’t fit how tom delounge makes riffs using a changing bass note.but he is still a great guitarist because he is original and does other cool things on guitar) also the extreme boost of confidence helps.there is a link to something similar on this site by dale.
this is really the same thing in my opinion but with some feedback.again if i’m wrong please tell me so i’ll know

I just left a contrasting rant on the Speed Reading thread. Perhaps our great admin could forge a link for us.

I’m also tired of books which turn out to be magazine articles in hard cover. That’s what the library is for. Nothing new in publishing or anywhere else for that matter.

My last blurb was about my experience in the EW speed reading classes I took in the 70s. They were terrific. The only comment I could offer is that you would have to have the two readers compete after one practiced the speed reading technique of their choice while the other just read every day. Even then the double-blind experiments would be one of apples against round red fruit.

EW was great at speeding up your ability to read. But then the text still mattered. If it was fiction or light stuff you’d fly along. Real math texts (my current area for 30+ years) cannot generally be read with such speed. Though I did speed read my diffey que book and loved the class.


Here’s the other, related thread: Does Speed-reading Work?

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I find useful this app:

Rapid recognition of numbers, letters and words
Flexible eye movements
Improved ability to concentrate
Increased vision span

The app looks interesting. I added it to the wiki page on Speed Reading.


Guys, these are great resources you listed. I will spend the whole evening reading it. Has anybody actually used any of the courses? any success? What is you speed of reading after the course? How many days, weeks or months did it take you to master it?