I have always been a fast reader but want to improve my reading skills as well. I stumbled upon an article by Tim Ferriss that purported to do just that. So after reading it and practicing the methodology described I was able to increase my reading speed dramatically. It also feels as though my retention has improved as well.
The gist of the program is this: our eyes often reread lines we have read already in an involuntary reaction. Train your eyes to not go reread by following a marker; your finger or a pencil.
The next step is to train your eyes to make better use of your peripheral vision by starting with your marker up to four words into the line and finishing with your marker four words from the end. During these exercises I realized I had taught myself how to do this naturally.
I still saw significant improvement in my words-per-minute count after 20 minutes of practicing these techniques.
Original WPM Count:
Post practice (using my finger as a marker):
Post practice (using no marker):
I don't think that I will use a marker as the sound of my finger sliding across the page is somewhat disturbing. And I don't think I'll always read at this speed. I find reading to be a very sensual experience; from the smell of the pages to my gaze sliding over the shapes of the letters. Reading can (and in some cases I'd argue should be) a slow, almost lazy process. One that is full of expectation and surprise. One that builds slowly to a crescendo. Heaving, tossed with passion until torrents of words, thoughts and ideas come gushing forth in waves...
Wait, where was I?
It is nice to have the option to accelerate the process if needed though.