How to Speed Read like the Real Rain Man


October 24, 2012 by chriszumtobel

Kim Peek (1951–2009) probably had FG syndrome.

The above video is an excerpt of a documentary on an amazing human, Kim Peek, the savant who the movie Rain Man was based on.  It is an inspiring documentary about the triumph of the man, with his father’s care, turning a mental retardation into a mental acceleration.  I am only going to talk about the very last 50 seconds, so if you don’t want to watch the whole video you can skip ahead to the ten minute mark and you will see the portion I am referencing.

“He reads a page – that you and I would read in three minutes – it takes about eight to ten seconds.  He reads left pages left eye, right pages right eye and he remembers about 98%.”

Think how many books you could finish if you could read at that pace, and how much information you could retain… It’s unbelievable to me.

There are all kinds of tips for how to read faster, my favorite of being How to Speed Read Like Teddy Roosevelt but none of those have ever worked for me…  I always feel like I sacrifice enjoyment or comprehension, just to finish the book faster.

I think it’s best just to read.  Read the way you are comfortable, and read all the time, whenever you have a chance.  Over time, you will start to read faster, as your vocabulary grows and you become more confident with the sound of your voice inside your head (or maybe eliminate the voice inside your head, as some of the tips say).

Either that or practice reading with one eye on the left page and the other on the right… Maybe it’s not as impossible as it sounds, but I’m pretty sure it is.  I’m pretty sure Kim Peek was a very, very special case.

The best advice for those who wish they could read faster comes from Dory in Finding Nemo, “Just keep reading, just keep reading…” Well she said something like that…

Have any of you had any luck stepping up your reading speed?


2 thoughts on “How to Speed Read like the Real Rain Man

  1. Like you, I’ve tried to learn some of those speed reading techniques and nothing has really helped. I have always been and remain a slow, plodding reader, and I still don’t retain as much as I wish I did.

    I tend to daydream a lot, but that daydreaming is also the source of almost all of my “ideas” for stories, bits of my novel, etc., so I don’t know that I’d want to sacrifice that just to read faster. Nonetheless, I have a library of thousands of books I will never be able to conceivably read, so shutting down that voice on occasion might have its benefits!

    • Couldn’t agree with you more. I hate how often I have to go back to reread paragraphs (and pages) but I also have to admit those daydreaming spells are exactly where I get all of my ideas. But it makes me sad to think about all the books I’ll never get to read because of my lack of focus and speed…
      Guess it is a trade-off we will just need to learn to live with (and maybe appreciate)… Thanks for the great comment!

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