Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body. As by the one, health is preserved, strengthened, and invigorated: by the other, virtue (which is the health of the mind) is kept alive, cherished, and confirmed.
– Joseph Addison (1710)
You can learn as much as you want about saccades and clumping, eye strength and field span, and all of the other rules and tools of speed reading, but if you don’t put what you learn into practice, it won’t do you any good at all. Just as you can’t learn to play the piano by simply memorizing the keyboard, you can’t be a top speed reader if you don’t spend as much time as possible actually reading. In fact, it’s just as important that you read for the sake of reading as it is to read while practicing speed reading. There are several reasons for this, and the first one is illustrated by the quote above. Regular exercise of your mind will keep it in top shape, and you’ll be better able to comprehend and absorb text while also improving your reading speed.
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.
– Charles W. Eliot (1896)
The second reason for reading as much as you can, as often as you can, and from as many sources as you can find, is that the more you know, the better you are at speed reading. That’s because you won’t have to stop to look up unfamiliar terms and concepts. You won’t have to try to figure out references the author makes to other works, because you will have read them, too. You’ll have the breadth of knowledge that you need to understand any topic, and that will ensure that you can remember the information later so that you can put it to use.
He that loves reading, has everything within his reach. He has but to desire, and he may possess himself of every species of wisdom to judge and power to perform.
– William Godwin (1797)
A love of reading is important for both adults and children. If you’re a parent, encourage your child to read book rather than watch television after school. Read to and with younger children to show them the fun they can find in a story, and give gift cards for bookstores to older children. Look for your local library, and make sure your child has a library card and knows where to find the books that interest them. Get your own library card as well, and take advantage of the resources available to you in both print and on-line books. Keep reading, and you’ll have everything you need to succeed as a speed reader.
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
– Cicero (46BC)