"10 Days to Faster Reading" by The Princeton Language Institute & Abby Marks Beale

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Reading is one of the most essential skills in the world and we are very lucky to had the opportunity to read from such a young age. We take reading for granted just like walking, eating or breathing. But did you know that according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, there are still 750 million illiterate adults, two-thirds of whom are women. These figures are shocking and a stark reminder of the work we have to meeting the Sustainable Development goals in reducing the illiteracy rate by the year 2030. Reading shouldn’t be taken for granted. But seeing that reading is such an essential skill to our growth and development, how about the skill to read faster?

 AUTHOR: Abby Marks Beale

AUTHOR: Abby Marks Beale

In a world where we are bombarded with information overload, how do you decide what to read and what to trash? How many magazines are you supposed to finish when there are so many in every niche possible? Realistically, how much time does it take for you to read cover to cover and could that time be allocated elsewhere? Who doesn’t want to read faster? Imagine all the things you can do with the time you save from reading faster, instead of spending two weeks reading just one book. Imagine the amount of useful knowledge you can curate through the art of speed reading. And before you start to protest, not reading cover to cover is not necessarily considered cheating. The same applies to listening to an audio book or flipping through chapters that are relevant to your interest. Of course, we are only referring to non-fiction books. Skim reading through fiction will make no sense.

To help us discover the cool art of speed reading, which we believe is an essential skill for international relations and diplomacy, we recommend the book “10 Days of Faster Reading” by Abby Marks Beale and the Princeton Language Institute. This book is recommended as further reading to support Chapter 1 “Skills for a Changing World” of the Diplomatic Planner. This book sets out to help you get through the ever-growing pile of must-read books by breaking down the mindsets and bad habits that inhibit us from effective reading. The book will teach you how to replace our bad habit reading with highly efficient reading techniques that will help you retain more information in shorter time.

We have all developed bad habits when it comes to how we read because we were never really taught how to read effectively. As children, we were taught to read each word out loud from cover to cover to learn how the story ends, and this pattern has stuck to us into adulthood. You don’t have to read everything to understand it. You don’t have to remember everything you read to get something out of it. Our brain is quite remarkable and has the ability to pick up information even if sentences remain incomplete. Think of the last time you read a non-fiction book cover to cover and found every chapter useful. You are most likely to find the best parts of the book in the introduction which will summarise the entire book for you. That is one of the techniques recommended by the authors.

The book also lists other very useful techniques to consider. These include:

  • How to avoid re-reading sentences

  • How to stop daydreaming as you read

  • Picking up essential information from sentences and paragraphs

  • How to avoid sub-vocalising (i.e., reading aloud)

  • Identifying keywords

  • Using chewing gum to help aid faster reading

  • Finding a clear purpose to why and what you want to read

  • Examining what information you are searching for and how to extract that information

  • How reading the first paragraph will teach you whether the rest of the chapter is useful to you

  • Learning to identify the importance of sub-headings, titles and subtitles

  • Learning to read between the lines

  • The white space in between words actually mean

  • Using tools like a pen or your finger to lead the eyes

  • When to take a break from reading

Knowing what techniques will work for you is highly dependent on how you read around the habits you already have. Breaking out of those bad habits may take some time but sticking to at least 2-3 techniques to practice on is highly recommended.

“10 Days to Faster Reading” is recommended for the purposes of the Diplomatic Planner. The Diplomatic Planner is a 12-month career development toolkit for diplomacy and internationals for professionals looking to explore or grow their expertise in the field. Both books are available for purchase via Amazon. For further recommendations, insights, case studies and practicable worksheets, please join the Grassroot Diplomat Online Academy via: www.grassrootdiplomat.org/register