I believe the essence of speed reading is to keep a diary with notes. The notes seem to lock the material into place. My method is to condense the book to a paragraph:[1]

  • Main conclusion of the book. Not the topic, but what the author wants me to know about the topic. (e.g. Rather than: “This book is about how to read better,” but “Ms. Chu recommends that readers develop a method of speed reading that best suits their style.”
  • Add their three main thoughts. If thy have more than three, pick the most important.

If I find you can’t identify those elements, I reskim the book.

My diary is written on digital index cards. If I ever need to recall a book, I can jump to my diary.

That being said, never sacrifice beauty and awe for speed. Some books and articles weren't written to deliver discreet packages of information but to draw readers into an imagined dialogue with the author, or to elevate them to the sublime. It would be like hitting the fast forward button when listening to Beethoven’s Ninth.

[1]: The same paragraph I encouraged beginning writers to use as their intro until they developed their skills. I called this the guaranteed C intro. It may be boring but it got the job done and allowed their teachers to follow their thoughts. (It also helped them organize theirs.)

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