Be selective in what is read

New acquisitions at the used bookstore.

Have you ever wondered how fast you read? A stack of reading material on the nightstand begged for my attention. I considered how long it would take me to get through it.

Reading speed test.

Curious, I took an online test to find out.[1] I selected a blog post from a published poet/essayist and took the reading test. The results disappointed me. It took me less than two minutes to read a blog post with more than 300 words. According to a Forbes article, the average adult reads 300 words a minute.[2]

Test two. I selected the nut graph of a Slate.com article. Again, below average reading speed. Test three. Selected another blog post. This time from a professional blogger. I received an above average reading speed. Test four (and five). Two different New Yorker articles selected. I read the opening paragraphs. Two different writers. One wrote a news piece. One a literary critique. The results varied. The critique results were below average and the news piece was above average.

Content readability.

I turned my attention to the text read. Using an online app I graded the passages read.[3] The Slate.com article received a good readability rating. The professional blogger article earned an okay readability score. The literary critique received a poor readability grade. The news piece received a score worse than the literary critique.

The app rates the difficulty of a text. The readability grade based upon passive voice, adverbs, phrases with simpler alternatives, and sentences that are hard or very hard to read. In other words, difficult sentences that included compound or compound/complex sentence structures.

Observation.

What I have noticed is that numbers (and analysis), abstract ideas and foreign words slow me down. There is so much I desire to read, but time limitations prevent the volume of literature I seek to explore. So, I have to be selective in my reading habits. And this reminds me of something Annie Dillard wrote:

“He is careful of what he reads, for that is what he will write. He is careful of what he learns, for that is what he will know.”

NOTES:


[1] ReadTime, accessed January 11, 2017.
http://readtime.eu/

[2] Brett Nelson, “Do You Read Fast Enough To Be Successful?,” Forbes, June 4, 2012 @ 09:09 AM, accessed January 11, 2017.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/brettnelson/2012/06/04/do-you-read-fast-enough-to-be-successful/#436dc4dc58f7

[3] Hemingway App, accessed January 11, 2017.
http://www.hemingwayapp.com/

 

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