Beatrice reads 236 books a year: ‘I practiced reading quickly’
Tonight it will be announced which Dutch writer wins the Libres Prize for Literature, the prize for best novel originally in Dutch, last year. 236 books were submitted. Jury member Beatrice de Graaf read all of these texts.
“At one time there were so many books in my house that my husband was afraid they’d fall through the ceiling,” de Graaf jokes against Edie NL. However, I have read all the books without difficulty. “I’m a history professor, so I actually read a lot of books for my work. And often those books are in English or German or French with a lot of facts and years, so it often takes a long time. But the books I read as a member of the jury I read in the language Dutch, and it’s subtle and easy and poetic, so needless to say.”
Don’t be distracted
“I learned throughout my career and also as a kid to read very quickly.” She does this by applying a kind of hyperfocus to herself. “I am not distracted by what is happening around me.”
The Dutch read a 250-page book in an average of 4 hours. We read 9 books a year, according to data from KVB Boekwerk.
According to Mark Tegchlar of Fox Academy, one person reads faster than another, but we can read faster than we are reading now. “How fast you read has to do with intelligence, but also how trained you are. So the more you read, the faster you read. It’s kind of a fitness for your eyes.”
So you can practice reading faster. In addition, according to Tigchelaar, our brains can also work faster. We think the average is 1,400 words per minute, but we only read 250 words per minute. So, while you’re reading, there’s plenty of room to wander, and at the end of the page you might have no idea what you’re doing. If you read faster and move your eyes faster the page, it becomes easier for your brain to absorb the information, so you don’t wander around so much.”
There are certain ways to read faster. The first is that you direct your eyes. “Then let your eyes read with a finger or a pen,” Tegşlar continues. “In addition, you can practice recording several words at once, by creating a larger photo opportunity. So you don’t record a word, but a group of words.”
And you can scan the text first to see what it is about. “Then you start activating your prior knowledge, laying out the corners of the puzzle, so to speak. Then you actually read it.”
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