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A Personal Transformation

May 08, 2011

I would never have classified myself as a great reader. And I never expected to become one. I read for work, when trying to learn a new skill. But the process was always a bit…laborious. I rarely ever read for pure pleasure. The books, mostly computer related, tend to be thick tomes, densely packed. So a single volume might be with me, by my bedside or in my briefcase for months. And since I was working on more than one thing, that bedside stack was 3-10 books high. The idea of reading and finishing a book in a day, a week, or perhaps even a month was too incredible to even ponder.

It’s been a long time since I was in school, but I am finally changing that relationship with books. Probably one of the most important ones I have picked up in recent years was 10 Days To Faster Reading by Abby Marks Beale. My speed of reading has easily tripled. But what’s more surprising is that the comprehension level has also increased substantially. When you factor in the need to re-read to really understand what was said, a 500-600% overall increase isn’t all that unreasonable a figure. It really is quite shocking to me.

10 days is I think poorly named….it’s more like 2-3 hours for 3 or 4 days. Then working at it (by reading) for a few days and boom! Speed and comprehension through the roof.

If you stepped into my apartment, you would probably have a different opinion of my relationship with the written word. I have a large collection of books. Books of wildly different topics. There’s a large section of cookbooks, of Russian, Nepali, Sanskrit, Hindi, Dutch, and Arabic language learning books, the Bible, Koran, Hindi texts, fiction of all sorts, woodworking, history, programming, project management, business, sales, and more. Yeah, it’s a huge collection. But while it should be a collection of read and consumed knowledge, it’s a collection of intentions. At the time of purchase, I had the best of intentions to read the material…but then life happened and they were retired to the bookshelf.

The virtual stack I have on my computer, iPad, Kindle, and phone is no different. Most of it is work related, but most of it is stuff I intend to read when the world stops, not now.

There were actually two changes recently that helped increase my ability to take in new knowledge. The second was the establishment of a great little area in my apartment where it is wonderful to sit and read. It’s so simple and I thought I had it before, but this area is so much more. Nothing in the area is new (except for the lamp) but their placement closer to the window, away from the TV, with plenty of light makes a world of difference. I would love to be able to claim full responsibility for this, but my parent’s visit to my home happened to coincide with the area’s creation.

So 30-60 minutes every morning and every evening now is spent reading. I make my coffee and sit with a book or the Kindle. I may read the New York Times, or a book I have been intending to read for years. The ratio of intentions to consumed is definitely still skewed in the wrong direction but it’s improving in my favor quite briskly.

The new area and new techniques have transformed reading from something I needed to do, to something I really enjoy…something I really look forward to each day. And thats a transformation I definitely wouldn’t have expected a few short months ago.

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