Authors: David Butler
Tags: #Reading With The Right Brain
READING WITH THE RIGHT BRAIN
© Copyright 2014
READING WITH THE RIGHT BRAIN
Unlike many other “speed reading” strategies available, Reading with the Right Brain is not a gimmick; it’s a unique method that allows you to more effectively assimilate what you read in a shorter amount of time.
Amanda Johnson, M.A.,
Assistant Professor of English, Collin College, Plano, Texas
David Butler and I have been friends for five years and have enjoyed many interesting conversations about reading and comprehension. I have always found his thoughts on this subject to be incredibly unique and insightful. Reading with the Right Brain has given David a place to collect these ideas in one place, and make them easy to understand for anyone wishing to improve their reading skills.
This book includes not only original theories and techniques for reading improvement, but also a totally exclusive method of presenting practice exercises that makes it extremely easy to begin reading whole ideas at a time.
Pick up this book and start reading with your whole brain.
Richard Sutz, CEO,
The Literacy Company,
Author of “Speed Reading for Dummies”
I strongly recommend David Butler’s new book Reading with the Right Brain as one of the most innovate new approaches to speed reading on the market today. For the past year, Dave and I have discussed in email exchanges crucial issues about reading comprehension and the history of speed reading instructions. Dave’s unique approach emphasizes the importance of reading with the right side of the brain which helps the reader quickly comprehend a text by converting groups of words into images and concepts.
It is amazing to me that so much could have been written in so many years since Evelyn Wood about speed reading and no one came up with the idea of “speed comprehension.” All the other programs emphasize rapid eye movement over text, promising that comprehension would follow, which it usually didn’t. The concept of focusing on comprehension first has been the missing link.
Reading with the Right Brain, is a “must read” for peoples interested in improving their reading comprehension and speed.
Dr. James Young,
Professor of English, Weber State University, Ogden, Utah
David Butler gets to the core of reading comprehension in Reading with the Right Brain, with effective techniques and exercises to focus your attention on meaning versus words. This book will speed up your reading, increase your comprehension, and make reading a pleasurable pursuit of new worlds of knowledge rather than slow torture that only leads to confusion. Read it and learn!
Mother, editor, and 6th grade teacher
Table of Contents
I slammed the book shut. Why was I such a frustratingly slow reader? And why couldn’t I remember what I read?
I was sitting in my yard, in the shade of the tall white birch trees, beneath the blue summer sky, reading a book I was very interested in. But I couldn’t help getting angry at how much time the reading was taking me and how poor my comprehension was. How could I enjoy a book if I had to read it in slow motion? And then just forget it all?
This was me several years ago. And if this sounds like you, read on. I can show you how to read faster and understand more, by reading with more of your brain; specifically the powerful, intuitive, big-picture right hemisphere. Although not normally associated with reading, this side of your head has a unique capability of quickly visualizing and conceptualizing entire complex ideas.
Reading with the right brain is a technique which opened the doors to reading for me. This is not like any other technique you may have already tried; believe me, I’ve tried them all. This is different.
This book is about learning to read conceptually and imagining and visualizing what you are reading. Reading conceptually is not just another speed reading trick, but a different way of thinking. By learning to use your right brain’s visualizing abilities, you can end the lazy habit of merely reciting words, and learn to really think about the ideas.
This book explains how stronger comprehension leads to faster reading, how the history of reading developed, and how the brain manages to accomplish this miracle. There is also a discussion on how to side-step bad reading habits and an examination of popular speed reading myths.
The jewel of this book though is the set of 20 unique reading exercises, which make it easy to learn to read with the right brain by guiding your attention to each of the short, meaningful pieces of information which sentences are made of. These specially formatted exercises will give you an easy way to experience how it feels to read faster and to read with better comprehension. By spending a little time practicing with these exercises, you can discover the power of reading with the right brain.
I had always wished I was a better reader. I wanted to read more but I was so slow. I was interested in non-fiction books, especially history and science, but if the point of reading non-fiction was to acquire and retain knowledge, then this was probably the single least effective activity I ever engaged in. Not only was I slow, but after spending dozens of hours getting to the end of a book, I only retained the foggiest idea of what I had read.
I had always been frustrated by how much time my reading took. And no matter how much I read, I was still slow. I wanted to improve but didn’t know how. Nothing I tried worked.
As a young boy, I would see advertisements that promised to teach me to "speed read." I don’t remember what these courses cost, but it must have been more than I could afford on my allowance.
In high school, I finally had the chance to take a night course on speed reading—one night a week for ten weeks. An impressive looking machine displayed text in short segments, one at a time, with a control for speed adjustment. It seemed like this should work for sure, but in the end it had no real effect. The faster the text displayed, the worse my comprehension was.
I tried several speed reading books and courses during high school, college, and beyond, but was always disappointed.
Reading well should have been in my genes. My father and mother were excellent readers. My mother loved to read fiction and my father loved non-fiction. My father was self-taught since 8
grade, but because of his passion for reading, he could speak intelligently on practically any subject.
But it didn’t look like I had inherited my parents’ reading skills. I also found it difficult to maintain concentration and I had a horrible memory. What was wrong with me? Maybe I just had a slow brain. Maybe I could never read faster.
Then one day at the age of 49, in the summer of 2000, I was sitting in my yard trying to get through a book on the interesting science of fractals. But again, it was a struggle.
I couldn’t stand it anymore. It seemed stupid to spend so much time reading with so little to show for it. I shut the book.
I sat holding the closed book, wondering if I should force myself to continue reading. I didn’t know what to do. I would be a quitter if I gave up, but a fool to waste so much time on a beautiful summer day.
I reopened the book and stared at the page… and then something interesting happened. As my mind idled, I began to notice patterns in the arrangement of the words. The rows of spaces seemed to form horizontal, slanted, and vertical lines that outlined blocks of words.
I played with this illusion for a while, but then this mental rest stop led me to wonder if there were patterns in the ideas too. Just as these clumps of words formed
patterns, there were probably clumps of words that created patterns of
. What if reading in “idea clumps” would make reading faster?
Grouping letters into words is easy because of the spaces between words, but what about ideas? Ideas usually require multiple words; shorter than sentences, but long enough to form complete pieces of understandable information. What if I tried to concentrate on these complete ideas instead of individual words? I grabbed a pencil from the house and started marking off groups of what I thought sounded like meaningful chunks of words with slashes like this:
But before / we go into / an introductory discussion / of what chaos theory / is trying to accomplish, / let us look / at some historical aspects / of the field. / If we look / at the development / of the sciences / on a time-scale / on which / the efforts / of our forebears / are visible, / we will observe / indications / of an apparent / recapitulation / in the present day, / even if / at a different level.
And wow! Suddenly when I read these phrases as complete units of meaning, the ideas seemed to jump off the page, straight into my mind!
I marked up and read several more pages. This looked like a breakthrough. I could read the text faster, plus the text was easier to understand.
This was the solution I had been looking for. There was one problem though. How could I read like this without needing to first manually mark up the text?
As a design engineer, it was difficult to leave a problem like this alone. In fact, it was more like the idea owned
than vice versa. It was an interesting challenge, and it also looked like it might help me overcome my long-time struggle with reading.
A few weeks later, I came up with an interesting idea for a computer program that could automatically divide text into meaningful phrases. After learning a little programming, I put together a test of this idea and tried this automatic phrase-parser on some text from an online news story. I displayed the phrases one at a time and I was immediately convinced that I was on to something. The results weren’t perfect, but it definitely made the text faster to read and easier to understand.
After this discovery, I spent the next few years improving the algorithm, and also making the program available online to see if others had the same response I did. This original online reading tool, which can still be found at
, resulted in plenty of positive feedback, which in turn, motivated me even more to continue working on it.
I was sleeping late one morning in January 2009, when I was woken by a phone call. It was the CEO of a company that teaches speed reading. He had seen my website and wanted to discuss licensing my algorithm for use in his own software. This very nice gentleman flew out to California for a couple of meetings, and over the next few months we worked out an agreement and signed a licensing contract.
I was walking on a cloud. Imagine, licensing my idea! But unfortunately the deteriorating economy had other plans for me. After several more meetings with the CEO and working for months with his company programmer to add this new feature to their software, things ground to a halt. Their updated software was never released, and eventually it became evident that it probably never would be.
But while working with this company, something else happened. They had asked me to help them develop lesson plans around this method, and the plans I came up with are what led to the creation of my own course now at
The company had also asked for my ideas about why this method worked so well. It was in coming up with answers to these questions that I realized faster reading mostly required faster thinking, and the only effective way to think faster is to process more information at a time—that is, to read whole ideas or thought-units, instead of words.
I could see that reading these thought-units was a faster way to read and comprehend, but reading this way also took more concentration, and this level of concentration was sometimes difficult to maintain. What could a reader do to hold their attention on the larger ideas?