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How to Read Books Faster: Speed-Read The Wheel of Time!

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The Wheel of Time consists of 14 books and a prequel, none of them short, so learning how to read books faster is going to help you get through the series much sooner. A few simple tricks will also be useful when you go back to read The Wheel of Time again, which I’m sure you’ll do.

Indeed, this article is inspired by re-reading The Wheel of Time books, but you can apply the techniques to other series too. The Malazan Book of The Fallen, for example.

Mine is just a fun and unqualified take on the subject, I hasten to add. I’m not trained in this stuff and would include myself in the “slow reader” category. However, I’ve picked up on some strategies to make my reading less of a slog, so with that said let’s get started.

Open book with a light shining on its pages with text reading “How To Read Books Faster.”

What is “The Slog” in The Wheel of Time?

“The slog” refers to the books from A Crown of Swords (Book 7) through to Crossroads of Twilight (Book 10). I don’t subscribe to the concept of these novels being a drag, but I probably did back in the day.

The first book, The Eye of the World, was released in January 1990 and was swiftly followed by The Great Hunt in November of that year. Robert Jordan’s creative juices must have been flowing because The Dragon Reborn arrived on our shelves in October 1991.

The following three books, The Shadow Rising, The Fires of Heaven, and Lord of Chaos arrived pretty much a year apart from there. So, Robert Jordan effectively published six chunky, well-crafted, and wonderfully enjoyable books in less than five years! But then we had to wait…

A Crown of Swords arrived in May 1996, The Path of Daggers in October 1998, Winter’s Heart in November 2000, and Crossroads of Twilight in January 2003. Four books in just under seven years. Not at all what The Wheel of Time fans had become used to.

The waiting was a slog, and the term became a thing.

It’s the Cog, Not the Slog

It’s laughable nowadays, thinking about the torturous paralysis A Song of Ice and Fire and The Kingkiller Chronicles’ fandoms are stuck in. I suffer alongside them and there are probably harsher words than “slog” in respect of those franchises.

With The Wheel of Time now gloriously complete, the publication dates can’t be blamed for people feeling a slog through this middle section. That is but a nostalgic memory of frustration now. The days when we chewed our nails and read The Lord of the Rings for an umpteenth time or re-read The Wheel of Time books we had grown to love. That’s what I did, anyway.

Books 7 through 10 expand on the world and introduce a lot of new or unfamiliar characters and Rand’s drive towards the Last Battle is less of a focus. Perrin has a plotline that stretches for books, as does Elayne in Andor. There’s more recapping of events and Robert Jordan continues to describe everything in intricate detail as was his wont.

Now the books are complete, this central portion can be seen as part of the “cog” rather than “the slog”. It’s a segment of the series that makes The Wheel of Time become such an expansive and wonderful story, to an unprecedented degree. That’s my opinion, at least.

Before I sidetrack too much, let’s not forget that the main series of The Wheel of Time is over 4 million words in length. That begs the question, how long does it take to read?

How Long Does it Take to Read The Wheel of Time?

It goes without saying that everyone reads at their own pace, so I can’t answer the question scientifically. What I’ve done instead is find out the running times for the audiobooks read by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer. I know, I should have been a scientist!

These are the results:

Book HoursMinutes
Prequel – New Spring1238
Bk. 1 – The Eye of the World2957
Bk. 2 – The Great Hunt2634
Bk. 3 – The Dragon Reborn2448
Bk. 4 – The Shadow Rising4113
Bk. 5 – The Fires of Heaven3627
Bk. 6 – Lord of Chaos4132
Bk. 7 – A Crown of Swords3024
Bk. 8 – The Path of Daggers2325
Bk. 9 – Winter’s Heart2412
Bk. 10 – Crossroads of Twilight264
Bk. 11 – Knife of Dreams3219
Bk. 12 – The Gathering Storm3358
Bk. 13 – Towers of Midnight3823
Bk. 14 – A Memory of Light4147
Total46141
Bold green links are to the individual audiobook pages on this site.

So, listening to the audiobooks back-to-back equates to 19 days, 5 hours, and 41 minutes! If my math serves me well, the so-called “slog” is 4 days, 8 hours, and 5 minutes of the overall time (22.5%). Well, the Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass, as we like to say.

Based on an average reading time of 200 to 250 words per minute, The Wheel of Time should theoretically take between 280 and 350 hours to get through. That’s 12 to 14 days if you don’t eat, sleep, wash, or blink.

As we’ve discovered, there are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of these pages, but is there a way for the Wheel to turn faster?

How to Read The Wheel of Time Books Faster

I’ve put together some tips below to help you along, but here are some specifics that relate to The Wheel of Time series itself.

There’s a lot of repetition in Robert Jordan’s work. I said, there’s a lot of repetition in Robert Jordan’s work. He recaps earlier events and insists on reminding us about how the magic system works, the intricacies of Daes Dae’mar (the Great Game), and the nature of Aiel sweat tents. These segments can be skimmed or passed over by seasoned readers of The Wheel of Time.

I must add that there’s a lot of foreshadowing and clues hidden in Jordan’s writing. It’s one of many reasons why the books are so re-readable, so be careful what you’re “skimming”. Having said that, the lengthy descriptions of shawls and gowns can generally be sped through.

Take note that the timings I gave above are from the audiobooks. Reading aloud and playing out each character’s part is always going to slow things down. So, if you’ve not started the books yet, please don’t be put off by the lengthy estimates I’ve provided.

The books are truly worth your time, however fast or slow you read. With some work, research, and effort, I’m sure you’ll get the hang of how to speed-read The Wheel of Time, especially on multiple re-reads.

5 Tips on How to Read Books Faster

Here are a few tricks, tips, and insights that I’ve picked up on, and tried to foster to improve my reading habits.

Tip 1. Use Your Finger

Very often it’s tempting to read ahead of where we’re at in a paragraph to contextualize the moment we’re in. That’s unnecessary because the author (at least a good one) will lead us to that place in their prose or dialogue in the way it’s meant to be discovered.

Worse still, skipping back to read a whole sentence again can be a thorough waste of time (unless you’re researching or analyzing, of course). We will subconsciously register the key content even if our tired minds think we haven’t.

The trick is to follow each line along with your index finger as if you’re wiping dust off a table. A ruler, bookmark, or other device should also work to achieve the same focus.

Boy concentrating and reading with his finger.

Tip 2. Don’t Move Your Head

Moving your head from left to right and back again as you read can distract your focus. This will slow you down and it’s easy to lose your place on the page. You’ll end up reading things twice and you don’t want to be doing that. You might get a kink in your neck too!

Close up of woman with green contact lenses.

Try to limit your eye movement as well – unless you have a visual impairment, the average reader should be able to gather 4-5 centimeters of words without the eyes wandering.

Tip 3. Remember You’ll Forget!

If you’re reading a heavy tomb like The Wheel of Time, it’s the beats and the heart of the whole that will remain memorable.

Think about some of the best quotes or moments from a book you love – they stay with you. You’ll remember them as visuals or emotions that have landed in your heart forever.

An elephant.

For sure the prose, characters, and interactions that build up to those triumphant moments are central to the lasting memory. But you’ll have forgotten most of those bits by the end of the book, so there’s no need to labor through each paragraph thinking you’ll miss out on something otherwise.

An excerpt from Winternight, chapter 5 of The Eye of the World:

“He tried to work moisture back into his mouth. Drawing a deep, ragged breath, he shouted as loudly as he could. “They’re coming in the back!” The words came out in a croak, but at least they came out. He had not been sure they would. “I’m outside! Run, father!” With the last word he was sprinting away from the farmhouse.”

If you’ve read The Eye of the World already, do you remember that paragraph? Probably not. Do you remember Winternight, the farmhouse, the empty road? Too right, you do!

If you’ve completed the series, then that all happened millions of words ago! So, don’t worry if you think you haven’t digested every word verbatim. Good writing will bring you into the story, so keep forging ahead, trusting you’ll remember the moments that hit you, even if you’ve forgotten how.

Tip 4. What Is A Skiff?

A skiff is a small light boat, usually manned by one person. Here’s some…

Blue and red skiffs on a lake.

Why ask?

It’s because sometimes in reading we come across words – nouns, verbs, or adjectives – that we don’t recognize. It can cause a natural break in our cognition (the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses – just in case you’re wondering).

Naturally, language and vocabulary are essential to rapid understanding and faster reading, so I don’t want to be patronizing here. The point is that if a word or object comes up that you don’t know the meaning of, don’t let it stall your reading.

The story will probably explain it to you anyway (Robert Jordan certainly would). So, don’t break off the flow and pace of your reading by stumbling at a word you don’t recognize. We’d all still be reading The Wheel of Time if we kept skipping to the glossary to work out pronunciation!

Tip 5. Group Words and Don’t Read or Whisper Out Loud

“Once upon a time” – four words, but it’s one process in the head and understood as quickly as one word alone. The more widely read you are, the easier it becomes to group almost entire sentences together in a quick thought.

Once upon a time written on white paper.

It’s commonly understood that we only tend to take in the start and end of sentences. So, grouping strings of words is a difficult but effective technique. The speed-reading resources below can help you with that.

Speed-Reading Books

If you want to know how to read books faster then better resources are available than mine, I confess. The following books come with general recommendations. I hope they help you on your way.

All links will take you to your country’s Amazon store. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Speed Reading for Dummies

I’ve always found the “for Dummies” books to be of good quality and easy to follow, so I’m pleased to have found that there’s a “Speed Reading for Dummies” book available. It’s authored by Richard Sutz, the founder and CEO of The Literacy Company (they work with schools to improve standards in English).

How To Read A Book

The following book is by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren and is highly regarded. It doesn’t entirely focus on speed reading, but that’s a feature of its content. It sells itself on the cover as “The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading”, and I’m intrigued enough to want a copy.

10 Days to Faster Reading

My final recommendation is this book by Abby Marks Beale, a speed reading educator. I’m naturally skeptical of timescale titles, but most of Beale’s readers find this book helpful.

If you pick up any of the books I’ve linked to above or have used them already, please let me know if you find them helpful or not. I should mention that these recommendations are based on the experience of other readers, rather than first-hand experience of the books.

Anyway, I really hope you’ve enjoyed this random post of mine. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments. I’m interested to see if you’ve enjoyed this sidetrack article, or not. I really appreciate any feedback, and I’ll always respond to questions or thoughts as soon as I can.

Until next time, may the Light shine on you, my friends!

Russell

Woman reading a magic book where stars and a heart come from the pages. Text reads “7 Great Reasons To Read The Wheel of Time.”
TAP FOR MY TOP 7 REASONS FOR READING THE SERIES

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