Have you heard about the anti-slow reading app called Spritz? It’s a speed reading app, “reading reimagined” they say. Why do you need a speed reading app? Because reading is so time consuming. The thing that takes the most time is moving your eyes across the page so Spritz presents the text to you one word at a time with key letters highlighted to help you recognize the word faster. The app will supposedly help you read up to 1000 words a minute. The average reading rate of an adult is 220 words a minute. They are touting you can read a whole novel in under 90 minutes! That way you know you can either read more books or move on to doing something else with all your extra spare time.
Spritz is basically power skimming. One. Word. At. A. Time. Can. You. Imagine. What. That. Would. Do. To. Proust? Or Henry James? Or Virginia Woolf? Or pretty much any writer who isn’t a robot? Why anyone would want to read a novel that fast is beyond me. No, wait, I know who would. People who only read so they say they have read. The ones who aren’t really readers but want to look like it so they can sound smart.
But what sort of comprehension can one possibly manage at 1000 words a minute? Hardly any according to the Telegraph. There are limits to how fast you can process information. Apparently we max out on spoken words at 300 words per minute. And I don’t know about you, but when I read, no matter what I read, I hear the words in my head and if I don’t hear them in my head they don’t really register and I forget them, get lost, don’t know what I just read. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the 300 words per minute max for spoken words also held true more or less for reading.
Plus, when we read we don’t just read one word at a time. We read phrases too. Our eyes also do not move smoothly across the page even though that is what it feels like. When we read our eyes move back and forth across the line as we put together an understanding of what we are reading.
The people at Sprtiz want everyone to use their app. Sorry Spritz, you won’t get everyone because I will never use it. Ever.
If you want a demo of what the app looks like and how it works at different speeds, you can give 250, 350, and 500 words a minute a try here. If your experience is like mine, 250 felt fast but totally doable without much effort. At 350 I started to feel tense and felt my shoulders start to move up to my ears. At 500 my blood pressure shot up and I felt a little crazy and angry because I couldn’t completely comprehend the whole thing. One could argue that with practice, speed will improve. But what’s the point?
I’ll stick with slow reading, thanks.