When your insomnia can help you win a Decathlon

… a reading Decathlon that is. I have always been a fast reader but I have never tested myself to see if I can read 10 books in 10 days.

Click below if you want to see my plan of attack, the real secret to why I read fast and the 10 books I’m going to read for the next 10 days. 

The last few days I’ve been in a funk. To add some excitement in my life and after getting inspired by the Olympics, I decided to participate Epic Reads Reading Decathlon Challenge: Read 10 Novels in 10 Days. I’ve chosen the Gold Challenge because I want to push myself and read a few classics that have been on my to-read list a bit too long.


My goal is to finish 10 novels by August 24. 

Before I tell you my 10 novels, I will give a few of my tips on reading faster.

  • Read on an ereader. I read on a Kindle or on my laptop. This is the fastest way I can read.  Ereaders give me the options to control settings that print books do not have. I cannot control the font, text size or column width on an actual book. But I noticed that I read paperbacks a lot faster than I do hardbound books (as nice as they are) because of the smaller column size and font size. If you don’t have an ereader, read on your phone, turn on the scroll function of the app and use the largest font size. On a laptop, close all of your tabs, turn on the scroll function and decrease the column size to the smallest size and scroll.
  • Read by chunks; not word-for-word. You do not have to mentally read each word on this page. You already know how all of these words are said. You are participating in what is called subvocalization. You are reading each word in your mind as they come up which significantly slows down your reading. The-best-way/to-get-rid-of/this-habit/is-to-read/in-chunks/without-saying/the-word-in/your-head.

My favorite way of controlling this

is decreasing the column size of your

device or reading a smaller paper back.

This way instead of your eyes moving

across the page, it moves straight down

and you read each line as one. Not word-for-word

  • Read diversely and difficultly.The more you read difficult books, the easier reading will become. Some people refuse to read harder books because they don’t want to put in the mental effort that comes with analyzing plot lines, complex character backgrounds and intimidating ideas and themes.  This comes at a disadvantage because you’re cutting yourself from pushing your mind to reading at a higher level. The first books of any genre will always be the more difficult, however after reading that type of books with similar writing styles and plots will be easier for your brain to digest. Reading a difficult book that was terrible is still experience that will help you increase your reading time.
  • Let your mind be a TV. I read through novels the fastest. It takes me a lot longer to get through non-fiction. This is because authors will set the stage, the plot, describe the characters in a novel. Many don’t like the time-consuming agony of reading through world building but it is the perfect slow build up for the last leg of the race when the plot actually starts to climax. In the world building stage I let my mind do most of the work and try to imagine the world the author is creating. The visual stimulation will help you stay present in the novel, become invested in the characters and story and help you dive into the world that the author is trying to create for you. My mind is visual enough that I don’t need to watch TV to have a good time. I let the author take me on a journey. I only had my ereader for less than a year; I stopped learning to subvocalize when I was in high school; I have only started to read diversely in college but I have always visualized what I read. This is honestly the real secret to why I read so quickly.

For the books I’m going to read, I’ve chosen 10 classic novels. I specifically choice classic novels because I like to explore themes and motifs that have endured the test of time. I also love analyzing symbols and quotes. Basically, Cliffnotes and Sparknotes are life. And then to read essays about classic novels, yessssss. If only I took English Lit as a major instead of pharmacy.

Alas I did not. Here are my novels in no particular order.

  1. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  3. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  5. The Hounds of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
  6. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  8. Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  9. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  10. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

All of these books are available at Project Gutenberg for downloading in the format of your choice.

Wish me luck! Until tomorrow!


4 thoughts on “When your insomnia can help you win a Decathlon

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