Speed reading tips to help you become as well read as Tyler Cowen

Tuesday, 21 February, 2017

Anyone who reads Marginal Revolution, the blog of US economist and writer, Tyler Cowen, will know he is an avid reader. The lists of books he publishes every month or so, suggest he chews through five or six titles a month.

That may not seem like much to some people, but it’s a pace I’d have no hope of matching. Unless I stopped working all together, and devoted myself solely to reading.

In the last two years, I’ve picked up five books. That’s right, five books in two years. And unfortunately, I didn’t finish reading all of them, either. Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen, and Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, were in that category.

Perhaps it was because they were books – even if they are classics – that were written for another age. I had more success with Fruit of the Lemon, by Andrea Levy, and Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.

I’ve just started in on The Lake, by late Argentinian author and neuroscientist, Paola Kaufmann. That might push the book rate up to six in two years.

Anyone trying to boost the amount of reading they do, may benefit from these tips by Lifehack writer Erica Wagner. This advice will only be helpful though, if you really want to read more. That is key, I keep reminding myself.

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Read once, write always, should software developers read novels?

Wednesday, 25 May, 2016

Could reading the novels of Virginia Woolf hone the skills of a software developer?

It may help, possibly:

But if anything can be treated as a plug-in, it’s learning how to code. It took me 18 months to become proficient as a developer. This isn’t to pretend software development is easy – those were long months, and I never touched the heights of my truly gifted peers. But in my experience, programming lends itself to concentrated self-study in a way that, say, “To the Lighthouse” or “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction” do not. To learn how to write code, you need a few good books. To enter the mind of an artist, you need a human guide.

How about the works of Jane Austen? I’m reading Mansfield Park at the moment… it makes me feel as if I am parsing code at times.

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Books that have been read by the famous, that can now be yours

Monday, 15 February, 2016

Read By Famous is a book seller with a difference, the books they stock have already been read. But not read by just anyone, rather by notable, or famous people. And what you’re buying is the actual title they’ve read, not a copy of it.

We sell books that were owned and read by people who have achieved high levels of recognition in their particular fields. Not copies of titles they have read, but the actual books that these people owned and read. The proceeds from the sales benefit book and literacy focused non-profits.

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Warning, reading this may be detrimental to your health

Tuesday, 10 November, 2015

I would like to read a bit more than I do, but between work, writing, and procrastinating, little time is left in the day for such things.

Maybe this difficultly in reading is not so bad though, thinkers and experts in such matters have had reservations about reading for millennia, fearing those who partook might be doing themselves all sorts of mental and emotional harm. Booksellers it seems were deemed to be especially vulnerable, on account of the volume of reading they surely did:

By the late 18th and early 19th century, science was invoked to legitimise health warnings about reading. In his Medical Inquiries and Observations Upon the Diseases of the Mind (1812) – the first American text on psychiatry – Benjamin Rush, a founding father of the United States, noted that booksellers were peculiarly susceptible to mental derangement. Recasting Seneca’s ancient warnings in the language of psychology, Rush reported that booksellers were prone to mental illness because their profession required the “frequent and rapid transition of the mind from one subject to another”.

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Would another way of spacing words help our comprehension?

Wednesday, 22 July, 2015

Asym spacing of text

Which of the above two paragraphs do you find easier to read, or comprehend? That on the left, as formatted normally, or the text to the right, that features Asym spacing?

But one tech company believes something as simple as increasing the size of spacing between certain words could improve people’s reading comprehension. Research going back decades has found that “chunking”, a technique that separates text into meaningful units, provides visual cues that help readers better process information.

I can’t say I noticed much difference, but maybe an instance where Asym spacing is used more extensively, such as in the very article I’m linking to, would be the go?

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A list of books that can be read in less than an hour

Monday, 8 June, 2015

Reading for six minutes can reduce stress by about two-thirds, says some 2009 University of Sussex research, so more reading might therefore be a good thing. But with so much reading material to choose from, and so little time to partake, what to do?

Obtain a bookmark, and read a little each day? That might work, but if it’s a feeling of accomplishment you desire, such as reading a book in a single, less than sixty minute sitting, then these suggestions, that include titles by Annie Proulx, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, and Elizabeth Kaye, might just fit such a bill.

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If a book’s worth reading once, it’s worth reading one hundred times?

Wednesday, 18 February, 2015

I always think that reading a book – especially one that you like – several times is a good idea, but what about sitting down to the same title one hundred times? There’s little doubt that you’d become more than familiar with the subject matter that’s for certain, and it’s a process that Canadian writer Stephen Marche swears by.

I read Hamlet a 100 times because of Anthony Hopkins. He once mentioned, in an interview with Backstage magazine, that he typically reads his scripts over a 100 times, which gives him “a tremendous sense of ease and the power of confidence” over the material. I was writing a good chunk of my doctoral dissertation on Hamlet and I needed all the sense of ease and power of confidence I could muster.

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The favourite books of the famous and influential

Wednesday, 15 October, 2014

It occurs to me I’m not reading enough books at the moment. Therefore I read “To Kill a Mockingbird” last week, and am about to start “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson, after I’ve read “Life in Half a Second”, by Matthew Michalewicz, a tome I think I need to read. And absorb.

I’ve had to cut back on the movies I watch to do achieve though, but I’ve probably been a little over-weight films these last few years anyway.

Long story short, I’m often on the look out for reading ideas, so this list of the favourite books of people such as Bill Murray, Michelle Obama, Robin Williams, Olivia Munn, Hillary Rodham Clinton, James Franco, and forty-four other “cultural icons”, might have come along at just the right time.

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Is there a way to accrue more life points so there’s more time to read?

Wednesday, 8 October, 2014

This is why we struggle to make it through our reading lists… books, articles, websites, social media, what have you. If time to take in all this material is broken down into “life points”, then we are possessed of a maximum of forty million of these units as of age five.

Given how much there is to potentially read though, likely many trillions of life points worth, if not much more, it quickly becomes clear that care must be taken in how this all too limited supply of points is allotted.

If you live in a developed nation, your average life span is about 80 years. Most children learn to read at 5 years-old, so we only have about 39.5 million life points to invest in consuming content. Of course, this presumes you do not sleep, and instead lay in bed for eight hours each night, flicking through shit on your phone.

Via Hypnophant.

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Is the library about to be archived?

Friday, 2 May, 2014

This came up in conversation a few weeks ago, what is to become of libraries in a world where books and publications are increasingly becoming digital?

As at the New York Public Library, the books are making a quiet last stand against the techno-historical forces pushing them aside. It seems unlikely they’ll hold onto their real estate for very long. The desktops are, for now, essential for a significant but shrinking slice of the population – mostly poor and elderly people – who can’t reliably access the Internet from home or on a mobile device. Eventually, the Venn diagram of those who lack smartphones and those who lack homes may nearly overlap exactly. Libraries are well positioned to serve many of the needs of this demographic, the dispossessed of the digital age.

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