It turns out that there are better ways to read than the way we learned as children.
The general idea is to flash each word on the screen sequentially, pausing a bit for punctuation. Some more sophisticated incarnations slow down slightly for larger words.
It is almost shocking how quickly your brain can absorb the flashed words.
It also is (arguably) less tiring because you don’t have to scan the page.
My Experience So Far
My personal experience is that I find myself pushing the speed to see how fast I can go with good comprehension. In a few brief sessions I’ve gone from 150 to 350 words per minute. For some material I can push to 400.
I’m not yet in the Evelyn Wood speed range, but I’ve only just begun, and so far I’ve invested well under five bucks.
Even better, I’m beginning to absorb words without “pronouncing” them in my head; which means that soon I should break through to significantly faster speeds.
It is also simply amazing and fascinating that this works at all.
Try It Out
You can try it all out here for free on a Windows machine, and there are apps ready for Windows 8 and iOS (and possibly other platforms as well).
I’ll be writing an evaluation of Flash Reader for iOS after I’ve used it for a while longer, but it promises to make this technique available for a number of different types of material; imported through DropBox, Instapaper, email, etc. So far, it seems buggy but promising; more on this soon.
[Update: ] Here’s a bookmarklet that will allow you to speed-read any web site through Chrome, Firefox or Safari.
Here is an article that reviews a number of other available flash-text readers
This is not necessarily how I want to read literature, nor technical books, but it would be perfect for magazines, newspapers and other text where I want the information as quickly as possible.