In Ask Sherry

Ask Sherry: On Reading Books & Reading Quickly

You asked, and I am answering every Friday once I have enough questions!

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1DKFg6SD0Kmb_0U5yb4OTNfkvfmsf5dWxJJbZTzUtH7M/edit

You can ask any question using the form here.

How many books do you manage to read per week/month and when do you do this (after the family’s bedtime, etc)?

So… I don’t get to read after bedtime. Basically, when Little Bun sleeps, I sleep as well. We have the same bedtime and waking hours. I read during the day when I tell him “Mommy needs a break”, and he grabs a book of his own (lately, it has been the Periodic Elements book which is colourful and fun to read), while I read beside him quietly.

For actual books read, I’d say I get through about 2 a month on average, but some months when I am extra motivated, I can burn through about 15 a month. It really depends on my mood, the book itself, and the author. Some authors, like Anne Bishop, Michelle Moran, etc … are immediate must-reads and I cannot wait to get my paws on their book to devour their works. I finish them within a day or two. Others, I tend to leave off to the side unless I get really engrossed in them, and then I can’t stop reading.

You would think with this pandemic I’d have MORE time to read, but the pressure of this extra time has been the opposite effect on me. I am more fatigued mentally from the added subconscious stress of being confined, and it makes my brain want to do ‘easy’ things like browse online through Instagram or window shop to feed it a nice dopamine hit.

I am trying to break this, but …. I am also understanding that this is my way of coping, and as long as I am not getting into debt or derailing my money goals, it’s fairly harmless, though not productive. But who says we need to be productive 24/7?

On what device do you prefer to read?

I use a Kobo Glo. I would like the bigger one to be honest, but it works fine, and doesn’t hurt my eyes like on my phone.

Any tips to become a faster reader?

Not particularly. I think it’s just a question of having the TIME that is the real issue, to read. I do read fairly fast, but I’m also super impulsive by nature, not sure if those two are correlated as I just want to get through things quickly and get them done and off my list.


I will also note that when I was younger, I was a chubby bookworm. I read about 30 young adult fictional books a week (think: Sweet Valley High Twins) and I think from there, my love of reading has blossomed, but also…. just years of practice of reading. I have been reading a lot my whole life, and maybe that has something to do with reading quickly? When you practice at something, you become faster, I’d wager.

The only thing I’ve noticed about myself that seems to help, is that when I see the first letter of the word and then the last, my brain reads it as an image, not as a word. It’s hard to explain, but I see the word and I know its image immediately, rather than having to look at each letter in the word to then parse it out of what it is. It sounds ridiculous, and probably isn’t more than a millisecond extra of reading at best, but it seems to be how my brain processes words.

I only noticed this because I see Little Bun doing the same – he will see the first letter of the word, and his brain fills in the context of what the word is very likely to be (like Google Auto-Reply), and he will say the word that makes sense that starts with the first letter, rather than reading the word itself. He isn’t wrong when he says his guessed (?) word, but it isn’t what is written.

I only recently learned a second language but I hear it helps, especially for children. It’s like their brains see the same word but in multiple languages at once, and they become better readers.

If you read fast, do you grasp the meaning well/as if you read slower? Thank you.

I’d say it depends. If I took the time to read slowly, and I really needed to understand a technical book, I can’t gloss over words. If I am reading just for fun, and fictionally, then it doesn’t matter (really), if I need to learn the material or not; I still get the gist of the book.

If I took more time to read a book I’d be more likely to get about 20% more out of it, but it’s hard for me to force my brain to slow down its speed, though I do that when I find a passage particularly interesting – I will re-read it over and over again.

Still have a burning question?

You can ask any question using the form here and all of my previous Ask Sherry posts are here.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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