Do you wish you could read more but can’t find the time? Or do you ever feel embarrassed that you aren’t more well-read? If so, I’d like to show you how to devour books in the least amount of time possible. And it’s not through speed reading. It’s not through audio books, either. Not exactly. I’ve used this process to read more than 7,000 pages per year each of the last three years.
To a small minority, reading 7,000 pages per year is no big deal. To a vast majority, however, that is a shockingly large number. After all, 28% of Americans don’t read a single book in a given year. The median number of books Americans read per year is 4, meaning they maybe read 1,000 pages/year or so.
Whether you’d like to read 4 books pear year or 40 books per year, the method I use will help you achieve your goal. Here’s the method, followed by my answers to questions/objections you might have to it:
Use Kindle Text-to-Speech
The trick is to buy a Kindle and have it read e-books to you at the fastest rate you can comprehend. Doing so is huge. Why?
It’s huge for two reasons:
- The Advantage to Audio. First, there are times when you can listen to content but not read it the traditional way. Two examples are when driving and when jogging on a treadmill.
- The Advantage of Increased Speed. The text-to-speech feature on the Kindle allows you to have the content read to you at a faster-than-normal rate of speed. By configuring it to read to you at the fastest rate you can comprehend, you can consume content much more quickly, as I discussed in this post.
Note that this trick only works on physical Kindles which include the text-to-speech feature. The Kindle app, which you might use on an iPhone or iPad, for instance, does not include this feature.
The least expensive Kindle I currently see listed that includes text-to-speech is the Fire 7 Tablet. It costs $49.99. Reading thousands of pages per year is worth $50.
My Experience Reading 7,000 Pages per Year
During my 30-minute roundtrip commute to work, I have my Kindle read to me at the fastest rate it supports. I connect the Kindle to my car stereo via Bluetooth. Alternatively, you could connect it via an AUX cable.
Having my Kindle read to me during my commute has helped me to finish 95 “works” (books and other shorter pieces) in the past three years. I read a wide variety of works this way, from The Iliad to Essentialism (great business book), to the Bible.
Questions and Objections Answered
Question: Isn’t this cheating? Is it even really “reading”?
Let me ask you this. What is more important: learning or eyes-going-back-and-forth-across-a-page?
I’m not opposed to eyes-going-back-and-forth-across-a-page. That’s the only way I read from kindergarten through the end of my doctorate, and I read that way still. I’m, um, pro-literacy.
But if the concept of reading could be reduced to eyes-going-back-and-forth-across-a-page, there wouldn’t be 23 definitions of “reading” on dictionary.com, which there are.
Reading is about apprehending meaning. In British English, to “read law” means to “study law.”
It is in that more important sense that using the Kindle in this fashion is reading.
Question: Can you comprehend what the Kindle reads to you?
Comprehension is worse having the Kindle read to you than if you were using your eyes to read the book. But it’s not substantially worse.
Let’s say comprehension through listening were far worse: just 80% as good as comprehension through traditional reading. But let’s also say that having the Kindle read to you allows you to read 7,000 pages per year rather than 1,000.
Reading 7,000 pages with 80% comprehension means you will comprehend 5,600 pages. That’s 5.6 times as many pages as you would comprehend by reading with 100% comprehension the traditional way.
Lastly, most people in the history of the world haven’t been able to read. They learned by listening. We can do it, too. It’s in our DNA.
Question: Why Kindle text-to-speech rather than audio books?
I’m not opposed to audio books, and they sound better than Kindle’s text-to-speech. But I like having the Kindle read to me better for these reasons:
- Increased Speed. If your audio book player can’t read to you at an increased rate of speed, then the Kindle kills it.
- Ability to Bookmark / Highlight. With the Kindle, you can bookmark pages and/or highlight text as it reads to you. (I bookmark pages even in the car since I can do so without taking my eyes off the road.) I’m not familiar with an audio book system that allows you to mark things you’d like to return to later.
- Ability to Extract Info Later. Building of the previous point, when you’re done with the book, with the Kindle you can return to passages you flagged and extract the content as book notes. Doing so with an audio book is much harder.
- Ability to Switch Between Audio and Visual. With the Kindle, you can always switch from having the text read to you to just reading it with your eyes. It’s very versatile that way. With an audio book, you can only listen.
- Kindle Books are Cheaper. Kindle e-books are typically cheaper than audio books.
Objection: “I love paper books. I could never give them up!”
Awesome, don’t. I’m not suggesting you go “all-digital.” Keep reading paper books.
But use this method at times when you can’t read a paper book (e.g., in the car, on the treadmill, etc.).
There are many reasons to want to read more. You might love learning. You might want to develop your abilities. Or you might want to avoid the embarrassment of not being familiar with books that everyone else seems to have read.
Whatever the reason, it’s often tough to find time to read more.
By owning a Kindle and having it read to you at the fastest rate you can comprehend, you can accomplish your reading goals in the least amount of time possible.
Question: What prevents you from reading more? Would using a Kindle as described in this post help? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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