Can This Trick Really Make You Read Faster?

If you think you don’t have enough time to read, author and leadership coach Peter Bregman has an idea for you. Bregman has developed a method for reading four times faster – without, he claims, reducing comprehension.

Bregman’s idea was born out of necessity: he interviews so many authors for his podcast that he needed a faster way to read their books. So, Bregman came up with a step-by-step method for quickly ready books. According to Quartzthere are two catches to the method: first, it only works for non fiction, and second, it deliberately has you skip some of the books’ content. Here’s how it works, as explained by Bregman himself in The Harvard Business Review:

1. Start with the author. Who wrote the book? Read his or her bio. If you can find a brief interview or article online about the author, read that quickly. It will give you a sense of the person’s bias and perspective.

2. Read the title, the subtitle, the front flap, and the table of contents. What’s the big-picture argument of the book? How is that argument laid out? By now, you could probably describe the main idea of the book to someone who hasn’t read it.

3. Read the introduction and the conclusion. The author makes their case in the opening and closing argument of the book. Read these two sections word for word but quickly. You already have a general sense of where the author is going, and these sections will tell you how they plan to get there (introduction) and what they hope you got out of it (conclusion).

4. Read/skim each chapter. Read the title and anywhere from the first few paragraphs to the first few pages of the chapter to figure out how the author is using this chapter and where it fits into the argument of the book. Then skim through the headings and subheadings (if there are any) to get a feel for the flow. Read the first sentence of each paragraph and the last. If you get the meaning, move on. Otherwise, you may want to read the whole paragraph. Once you’ve gotten an understanding of the chapter, you may be able to skim over whole pages, as the argument may be clear to you and also may repeat itself.

5. End with the table of contents again. Once you’ve finished the book, return to the table of contents and summarize it in your head. Take a few moments to relive the flow of the book, the arguments you considered, the stories you remember, the journey you went on with the author.”

According to Bregman, he developed his strategy with Professor Michael Jimenez, a specialist in Latin American history. He says this method allows him to read a book in a quarter of the time it normally takes, and that he now reads ten times as many books as before. Those numbers don’t quite add up (wouldn’t it be four times as many books?), but hey, that sounds exciting!

The downside, Bregman says, is that this type of reading requires constant attention and is not relaxing. But is it really reading at all? Let us know what you think in the comments!