Can You Read an Entire Novel in 30 Minutes?

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Sarah Rockwood

What if you could read an entire novel in two hours?  Not skim through a 150 page newsstand paperback, but actually read a substantial 300 page novel in less than half the amount of time it would normally take you?  Suddenly, being assigned an entire book over the weekend wouldn’t take a miracle to complete.  In fact, anyone could do it with a little training.  That’s what Spritz Inc., a new startup company based in Boston, is promising.

Championing the slogan “Reading Reimagined,” Spritz has designed a program to revolutionize the way we read.  The goal is greater efficiency: to be able to read three times as much in the same amount of time without sacrificing  comprehension. To achieve this, the program eliminates the need for two unnecessary and time-consuming features of reading: excessive eye movement, known as saccades, and mentally speaking the words as you read them.

The idea is relatively simple: present one word at a time so you don’t need to scan along the page as you read.  The key to making this work, however, is the proper alignment of the words.

Every word has an “optimal recognition point” (ORP)where your eye focuses to comprehend the word, but that point may not always be in the center.

The most time consuming part of reading is finding this point over and over again for every word you read.  Therefore, the creators of Spritz align every word so that the ORP is in the center of the screen, even if the word itself isn’t.  By highlighting this letter in red, the need to constantly readjust your eyes is eliminated.

The goal of the new program is efficiency.  Using Spritz instead of regular reading can enable trained users to read up to 1000 words per minute, which is more than three times as fast as the average person can normally read.  At that rate, you could read the first Harry Potter novel in just over an hour.

Not surprisingly, Spritz has been barraged with criticism since its initial announcement, as many people doubt it will work or fear that it might even be harmful.  While developers have done studies proving that, as of now, there are no known negative effects of using Spritz rather than normal reading, skeptics still believe it will be harmful to the eyes and that it’s unlikely anyone will truly comprehend anything when reading so quickly.

Miramonte students and teachers alike express disapproval of the new application.

“Spritz just contributes to the already growing laziness of our generation,” junior Fatima Hasanain said.

“What’s so difficult about moving your eyes across the page?  The obsession with efficiency is destroying our culture.”

“What’s the hurry?  Why do we need rush through books?  You lose something valuable when you don’t take your time and absorb what you’re reading,” English teacher Polly Covell said.  “Reading is a time for reflection, not for getting the task done as quickly as possible.  At least, that’s how it should be.”

Spritz announced that it will begin launching its development SDK’s, starting with Android, in late March.  This revolutionary technology may indeed change the way we read, and in turn learn, forever. Whether for better or for worse, we won’t know until we try.