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frankspin

August 27th 2014 10:41 am

Are speed reading apps all they're cracked up to be?



I have to admit, I'm a pretty slow reader. No matter how much I read or try to improve on my own, it never changes. This plays a big factor in why I choose to not read as many books as I'd like to, they just take too long for me to finish. With the recent onslaught of speed reading apps I'm beginning to wonder if this will solve my reading problems.

I'm not looking to get to ludicrous speed in my reading abilities, but bumping it up a few notches would be nice. Has anyone here taken the time to try out any of the apps? If so have you noticed any significant improvements in your reading ability?

Also a bit curious if anyone has tried to use this on comics, if even possible.

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12 replies
stephenwebb

I use reedly in chrome. Recently reedly wasn't working well so I tried Spreed, it was great as well, but on every webpage it pops up telling me how long it would take to read, so I found it annoying.
3 like dislike
kbx

I like Spreed too. That popup is really annoying, but there´s a fix:
Right click Spreed icon -> Options -> Check "Disable Spreed button on all sites"
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kris

I don't see how you could use one of these apps on a comic, given that the point of a comic is that the text and images work together, while many speed reading apps work by isolating the text for you to make it easily digestible.

However, that approach is similar to ComiXology's "Guided View" mode, which focuses on individual panels (or small portions of the page) and lets you tab through them. This probably does save time, as the reader does not have to hunt around the page, trying to figure out where their eye is supposed to go next. The downside is that while many artists design the page to be viewed as a whole, with each element carefully planned and placed for the best reading experience, Guided View basically ignores all that artistic consideration, choosing to view each comic as a series of isolated images (as they used to be, before comic art became more sophisticated visually).

It only takes me 10-15 minutes to read a comic anyway, so I don't really need a faster way to do it.

(As for reading books and other text...I don't use speed reading apps, but I have found I do read faster on an e-reader. I've seen the studies that say retention is lower for text read on a screen, but I haven't noticed a significant difference...yet.)
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DrNicket

Yeah I think you pretty much covered it Kris. It hardly seems practical to speed read a comic/graphic novel, when the point is to have pictures to gaze over in addition to story/dialogue. Guided Mode, much like the so called animated comics (videos), only played at your own speed, are kind of fun once in a blue, but you don't quite get the same experience as reading one for yourself.
1 like dislike
Ididar

I've tried them and, yes, while I can read faster I feel that I lose context more easily and I simply don't enjoy the act of reading nearly as much. The point, to me, of reading is to enjoy the act of reading not just do it very quickly.
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frankspin

That's an interesting point. Do you find that you're only getting enough details to understand the story, rather than finding yourself full immersed in the world? The few fiction books I have read I would often find myself zoned out imaging I was narrating over the people in the book.
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DrNicket

It would be nice if some of the apps were mentioned in the article. Seems pretty empty to me otherwise.
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AndrewMcCreath

When Spritz comes online I will be ALL OVER IT !!!
Can't get enough data quickly IMHO
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EngVagabond

Glance (previously OpenSpritz) is an open source implementation of Spritz that runs as a bookmarklet so you can speed read websites. https:­/­/github.com­/Miserlou­/Glance
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blueso

No, because they force you to read one word at a time, which I find annoyingly counterproductive. I generally read an entire sentence at once when I'm reading slowly, which is still faster than the top speeds these apps can handle.
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skinder

I've made some significant improvements in reading speed using AccelaReader (accelareader.com).

Unlike Spritz, it doesn't force you to just go one word at a time. You can have groups of words blinked at you which makes it easier to go faster.

It also allows you to skip useless words like "the", "a" or "an".

I've been able to build up my speed to about 600wpm using it.

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robm83

Zabaware Text to Speech Reader ( zabaware.com­/reader/ ) is a good speed reading app. It reads things outloud and displays the current word being spoken centered so you don't move your eyes. You crank up the read speed and then you both listen and read along with it. I found it helped studying boring subjects in college as I was both reading and listening so it was less likely my attention drifted.
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