We are all well aware of the numerous benefits reading has for our body and mind. That is why most of us struggle to improve our reading habits, we try to read more, faster and to dedicate as much of our free time to reading as humanly possible.
It may sound counterintuitive, but once you learn all the benefits of slow reading and how to read slower, you will quickly understand why you should do it.
Understanding the concept of slow reading is obviously the first necessary step in your journey towards learning how to read slowly.
What is slow reading?
As the name suggests, slow reading is the process of intentionally reading at a pace that is lower than the average reading speed of the person performing it.
This action of deliberately consuming written content in a slow manner is also referred to as deep or close reading and is the exact opposite of speed reading, which focuses more on the quantity of reading material that is passed through than the level of comprehension of that material.
Should I read fast or slow?
Well, the main thing you need to have a clear idea about before you can answer this question for yourself is what the main purpose of your reading is. Both reading techniques have their own benefits and drawbacks and they both have their applications.
Slow reading vs speed reading
While the most obvious difference between these two reading styles is obviously the pace at which reading material is consumed, there’s a couple of other things that you should take into consideration whenever you are faced with the decision of choosing between them.
Slow reading requires more time for the same number of pages read for example, but also comes with the benefit of better comprehension, better information retention and a deeper understanding of the text. Through slow reading, you are likely to pick up things from the text, like metaphors, descriptions or to be more attentive to the writing tone than you would be able to if you are reading too fast.
On the other hand, speed reading allows the reader to go through a much higher number of pages in the same amount of time. Comprehension is not completely compromised through speed reading, but a deeper understanding of the text and the writing style analysis are unlikely to be part of the process. Whenever you need to prioritize volume over deep understanding, speed reading is a great choice.
When to speed read and when to slow read
Finding the right scenario for each of these two reading techniques is crucial in order to reap the benefits each has to offer.
Slow reading is ideal for cases where you need to understand a book at its essence, for example when you are supposed to write a book review or an essay about the main ideas you are able to extract from a piece of reading material. Especially advisable for poetry, philosophical books and historical writings, slow reading is the way to go whenever you need to understand and remember as much as humanly possible from any particular book.
Speed reading is a great tool to use for easier books, or whenever you are on a tight deadline to go through a certain reading material you know you just need to have a more vague idea about by the time you are done with it. Applying speed reading on a thriller book you need to read until your next book club meeting for example is not a bad idea.
Basmo can help you adjust your reading speed
None of these techniques come naturally. We are all used to reading at a certain speed and whenever we try to change this reading pace, we are suddenly outside of our comfort zone.
Luckily for you, there is one amazing tool out there which can actually help you both with speed reading and with slow reading. Sounds unlikely, right?
Well, Basmo is a reading tracking app designed with the modern reader in mind. Though the number of functionalities goes way beyond this, you should know that Basmo allows you to track your reading speed. Each reading session you go through records the number of pages you read and how much time it took you to read them.
Having this information, you can easily adjust your reading speed from one session to another. Basmo provides you with a lot of interesting statistics about your reading habits, which can be extremely helpful in your efforts to read slower or faster than usual.
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What are the most important slow reading benefits?
Obviously, your motivation to start slow reading depends on the benefits this can provide to you as a reader. Luckily, they are rather numerous and relevant.
Here are the most important ones.
Taking your time while reading has a beneficial effect on your stress level. While reading in itself is a great stress relief tool, slow reading has been proven to be even more effective.
Reading slowly means you are focusing more on the book than on anything else, which in turn has the effect of putting some distance between you and your day-to-day stressors.
It’s easier to make connections
By limiting the amount of information your brain gets in a certain timespan, you ensure that the way the data is stored in your memory is a lot more effective than during speed reading sessions.
You simply retain more information from the book you read, and a slow pace gives you time to actually make connections between the new information you get and the things you already knew.
Better understanding of the concepts you are reading about
More time spent reading less material than you would normally consume means that you are more focused on your reading than usual. You will pay more attention to details and you will gain a much better understanding of the concepts that are presented in the book you’re reading.
This means your reading will be more mindful, you will be more connected to the book and you will go a lot deeper in the core concepts than you would normally do.
Better brain function
The fact that reading has a positive effect on how our brains work is well known. What most people don’t realize is that the constant abundance of data our brains have to go through every day and the hyperactivity generated by social media platforms are actually damaging our mental faculties.
The process of slow reading reverses this negative effect to a certain extent and helps our brain regain some sort of balance.
You could end up reading more
While it may not sound right at first, it is 100% true. In order to achieve a decent level of slow reading, you need to apply some discipline to your reading habits. Slow reading will force you to set time aside for reading, while speed reading actually encourages you to spend as little time reading as possible.
The effect of setting a reading schedule for example or for actually setting one hour per day for slow reading is very likely to lead you to healthy reading habits which in time will translate to a lot more reading than you do today. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
Plus, while reading too fast and not comprehending everything can become extremely frustrating at one point and pushing you away from reading in general, slow reading is sure to work the exact opposite way, drawing you in.
How to read slower? What are the slow reading techniques?
Learning how to read slower is now the obvious thing you need to do, now that you know how important and beneficial it is for you as a reader. While it may seem like an easy task, you should know that proper slow reading is a much more complex process than simply reading at a slow pace.
Luckily for you, there’s a lot of tools and techniques you can use in order to achieve your slow reading goals and to enjoy its many benefits.
Set a reading schedule with Basmo and stick to it
Having a schedule is a good idea in pretty much any activity you can think of, but especially when it comes to slow reading. Setting a schedule for your reading sessions will give you exact information about how much time you need to spend reading every day and by adding how much material you want to go through in a session will allow you to achieve your slow reading goals rather easily.
Basmo allows you to set a reading schedule, which is essential to developing healthy reading habits and making slow reading a part of your daily routine.
The scheduling functionality in the Basmo app has been created in a manner that gives you complete freedom: you can select the days of the week you want to read in, the time of day (even separately for each day) and it will also remind you of any upcoming reading sessions through notifications.
Take notes with Basmo
Another great way of slowing down your reading is to take notes while reading. This is also something Basmo can help a lot with. The app allows you to simply start typing any time a reading session is ongoing.
The simple intent behind taking notes while reading will force you to pay more attention and to look harder for the most important details from the information you go through.
By taking notes with Basmo during your reading sessions, you will also ensure that you will retain more information, since writing is known to help a lot with memorizing information.
Read out loud
One especially powerful slow reading technique is reading out loud. By actually saying the words you read instead of internalizing everything, you inevitably slow down and achieve a much slower pace.
Additionally, hearing yourself saying the words you read will allow you to better understand and remember what you read and can even have a positive effect on your focus level throughout your reading session.
Doubling down on the mental activity (reading + talking at the same time) will definitely keep other thoughts out of mind and will make distractions a lot less effective.
Set reading goals and don’t try to overachieve
Just as important as the schedule is to have the right goals in mind. On top of knowing that you want to read one hour a day for example, it’s important to set clear goals on how much you would like to read in that hour. In order to be able to properly slow read, you will need to know exactly how much you should be reading in one hour and you should avoid overachieving.
The wish to read more is natural and understandable, but you need to remember what your final goal is. If you want to read more, instead of limiting yourself to one hour per day, you can extend your session to 90 minutes instead of trying to read more in the same 60 minutes.
Taking breaks while reading is not only a great way of slowing your pace and bringing some balance in your rhythm, but is also a great time to reflect on what you read.
Don’t be afraid to lay your book down for a couple of minutes during your reading sessions and simply think about what you read and try to analyze and internalize the information you just received.
It will also help you achieve longer sessions of slow reading since the breaks will also keep your mind fresh for much longer.
There’s no shame in going through a paragraph more than once. It is even advisable, especially if you are slow reading a particularly difficult book. This will help you keep your reading pace down and will allow you to better understand and retain the information you go through.
Slow reading is a powerful tool for any reader who wants to gain a better understanding of the books they read.
While the process of becoming a slow reader is time consuming and rather tiring for most, with the proper tools, determination and a little discipline, anyone can do it. Use Basmo, the top reading tracking app, and your reading will be taken to another level in no time!
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Track the books you read, monitor the time you spend reading and keep notes on your reading habits and how it makes you feel. You can set yourself targets for the time you spend reading and you can get notified whenever you’re behind on your reading time.