I have what is known as hyperlexia type II, which is to say I read really fast and absorb information that I have read much more rapidly than most others. A lot of my friends and loved ones are very envious of how quickly I can read and absorb the material that I do, but it comes with a downside; I need a while to completely digest what I read. If I am reading, for instance, a text like Karl Marx’s Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations, or Arthur Waley’s translation of The Tale of Genji, or if I’m reading in something which is not in standard English in general, I need a bit more time to fully digest it.
This semester, I am taking two classes on economics, one is called World Systems, the other is called Globalization & Religion, and both syllabi are very heavy on pre-19th century texts. In order to fully understand the material I’ve been given to read, I’ve developed a method of reading which can help me grasp the material, but doesn’t require me slowing down and getting antsy: I read everything three times. If I read too slowly, then I get bored of the material and lose interest. But if I re-read it, this doesn’t happen. It’s unusual, but not unheard of.
So when I read a thick, wordy essay, I first read the way I always do, I rapidly take it in and absorb it. Then, when I finish a paragraph, I go back again, and read it again, this time focusing on important points the writer may have been trying to make which I missed on the first read. Then finally, I read it again to grasp the big idea the author was offering with the paragraph, and then I can move on with confidence.
Take that, Marx!