Kathryn Redway Associates

creative : : reading : : memory

Do you know how you read? 
Let’s begin  with a simple exercise and prepare for it. 

  • Make sure you can see the screen clearly
  • Switch off any possible distractions, such as your mobile telephone, or the radio
  • Have a stopwatch or timer ready
  • Sit comfortably

Ready?  Start reading now!

As brisk as bees, if not altogether as light as fairies, did the four Pickwickians assemble on the morning of the twenty-second day of December, in the year of grace in which these, their faithfully recorded adventures, were undertaken and accomplished. Christmas was close at hand, in all his bluff and hearty honesty; it was the season of hospitality, merriment and open-heartedness; the old year was preparing, like an ancient philosopher, to call his friends around him, and amidst the sound of feasting and revelry to pass gently and calmly away. Gay and merry was the time, and gay and merry were at least four of the numerous hearts that were gladdened by its coming.
And numerous indeed are the hearts to which Christmas brings a brief season of happiness and enjoyment. How many families, whose members have been dispersed and scattered far and wide, in the restless struggles of life, are then reunited, an meet once again in the happy state of companionship and mutual good-will, which is a source of such pure and unalloyed delight, and one so incompatible with the cares and sorrows of the world, that the religious belief of the most civilised nations, and the rude traditions of the roughest savages, alike number it among the first joys of a future condition of existence provided for the blest and happy! How many old recollections, and how many dormant sympathies, does Christmas time awaken!
We write these words now, many miles distant from the spot at which, year after year, we met on that day, a merry and joyous circle. Many of the hearts that throbbed so gaily then, have ceased to beat; many of the looks that shone so brightly then, have ceased to glow; the hands we grasped, have grown cold; the eyes we sought, have hid their lustre in the grave; and yet the old house, the room, the merry voices and smiling faces, the jest, the laugh, the most minute and trivial circumstances connected with those happy meetings, crowd upon our mind at each recurrence of the season, as if the last assemblage had been but yesterday! Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveler, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!
But we are so taken up and occupied with the good qualities of this saint Christmas, that we are keeping Mr Pickwick and his friends waiting in the cold on the outside of the Muggleton coach, which they have just attained, well wrapped up in great-coats, shawls and comforters. The portmanteaus and carpet-bags have been towed away, and Mr Weller and the guard are endeavoring to insinuate into the fore-boot a huge cod-fish several sizes too large for it - which is snugly packed up, in a long brown basket, with a layer of straw over the top, and which has been left to the last, in order that he may repose in safety on the half-dozen barrels of real native oysters, all the property of Mr Pickwick which have been arranged in regular order at the bottom of the receptacle. The interest displayed in Mr Pickwick's countenance is most intense, as Mr Weller and the guard try to squeeze the cod-fish into the boot, first head-first, and then tail-first, and then top upward, and then sideways, and then long-ways, all of which artifices the implacable codfish sturdily resists, until the guard accidentally hits him in the very middle of the basket, whereupon he suddenly disappears into the boot, and with him, the head and shoulders of the guard himself, who, not calculating upon so sudden as cessation of the passive resistance of the cod-fish, experiences a very unexpected shock, to the unsmotherable delight of all the porters and bystanders. Upon this, Mr Pickwick smiles with great good-humour, and drawing a shilling from his waistcoat pocket, begs the guard, as he picks himself out of the boot, to drink his health in a glass of hot brandy and water: at which the guard smiles too, and Messrs Snodgrass, Winkle, and Tupman, all smile in company. the guard and Mr Weller disappear for five minutes: most probably to get the brandy and hot water, for they smell very strongly of it when they return, the coachman mounts the box, Mr weller jumps up behind. The Pickwickeans pull their coats round their legs and their shawls over their noses, the helpers pull the horse-cloths off, the coachman shouts out cheery 'All right,' and away they go.
They have rumbled through the streets, and jolted over the stones, and at length reach the wide and open country. The wheels skim over the hard and frosty ground: and the horses, bursting into canter at a smart crack of the whip, step along the road as if the load behind them: coach, passengers, cod-fish, oyster barrels, and all: were but a feather at their heels. They have descended a gentle slope, and enter upon a level, as compact and dry as a solid block of marble, two miles long. Another crack of the whip, and on they speed,a t a smart gallop: the horses tossing their heads and rattling the harness, as if in exhilaration at the rapidity of the motion: while the coachman, holding the whip and reins in one hand, takes off his hat with the other, and resting it on his knees, pulls out his handkerchief, and wipes his forehead: partly because he has a habit of doing it, and partly because it's as well to show the passengers how cool he is, and what an easy thing it is to drive four-in-hand, when you have had as much practice as he has. Having done this very leisurely (otherwise the effect would be materially impaired), he replaces the handkerchief, pulls on his hat, adjusts his gloves, squares his elbows, cracks his whip again, and on they speed, more merrily than before.

Stop the timer as soon as you finish reading.  Let’s calculate the speed:

There are 1,044 words in this passage, which is extracted from Charles Dickens' "Pickwick Papers".  If you took 4 minutes and 5 seconds to read this passage, your reading speed is 4 minutes 5 sec = 4 +5/60 = 4.083 minutes
And your reading speed is  1044/4.083 = 256 words per minutes.

This puts you in the average reader category.  Did you know that most people read between 200 and 300 words per minute? 

Just as important, while you read the passage above, did you hear the words in your head, silently?  Were you aware that you re-read words or groups of words?  Did you get bored with the story and find it hard to maintain concentration?

Reading my book “Beat the Bumf” will show you how you too can get rid of these problems and speed up your reading!

Could you summarise the story or recall explicitly what Mr. Pickwick was doing?   Do you think that you will remember this extract from The Pickwick  Papers in a week or a month?   If you hesitate, then a rapid reading course, or reading the book, will show you how you can increase your comprehension and retention with any reading material, complex or not.


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