The way most of us are reading books is left to right, top to bottom. Others languages do it differently, but it’s all essentially the same. Paragraphs and sentences formed from aligning words on a grid pattern on a rectangular piece of paper. This isn’t a bad way to do it. It makes sense if you’re reading something physical. Words don’t magically appear in front of you, you have to look for them. However, now that a lot of books are available digitally, what if…

There is a specific kind of speed-reader design derived from Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP). There are a few extensions and applications that use it, such as:

  • Reedy - Android
  • SwiftRead - Chrome

What they do is show you the individual words of a selected text in rapid succession. In Reedy, the default behavior is to show you not only the current word, but the following words, albeit more visually dimmed. SwiftRead’s behavior can be adjusted to show you both front and back, or just the current one, with many additional customization options.

This method of reading is very passive. You stare at the screen processing the words you’re shown. Speed is adjustable to your liking, and you can of course pause or rewind if you’ve encountered an unknown word, name or date. I’ve easily read an entire book in a day using this method. I recommend that you give it a try. It is a delightful way to read.