Reading Tips for Short/Troubled Attention Spans

Somehow, despite my own increasingly poor attention span, I have managed to read 194 books this year. I have also recently managed to start and (so far keep) the habit of reviewing the books I read. When I have about ten of them, I’ll start cross-posting them here, probably on Fridays.

I remember thinking in horror of how little I had been reading over the years, and now it’s a major support for those times when I don’t feel awesome.

That doesn’t mean that I’m getting better at focusing. I may even be getting worse! :D But I have found things that help. The only thing is, it can be a bit expensive. A couple of years ago, I talked about how the TTS on the Samsung Galxaxy Tab 10.1 was not very good. I tried to use it to read Bitter Gold Hearts while feeling peaky and it just did not go.

However, since then, I have gotten a Kindle Fire, and bought a few Ivona voices for my PC. I cannot stress enough how much help it is to have a good TTS to step in. Sometimes my attention just vanishes and I actually have trouble focusing my vision. Some articles that I really want to read would go gentle into that good night because I would take one look and stop being able to see.

But with Ivona TTS, I have backup. Smart Bitches review I want to read but can’t sit through? Ivona Minireader, Kendra US voice. Kindle book I can’t put down but really have to wash dishes? No need to pray that whatever it is has Whispersync, there are Ivona voices on Kindle Fire~ Bored out of my mind but should really finish that book? Voiceover on the iPad~

If you have trouble reading due to frustration at your own speed, TTS helps because it goes at a fairly fixed speed and can usually be sped up or slowed down to suit you.

TTS is more consistent than audiobooks. It is more readily and consistently available, book to book, less expensive in the long run, and if you find at least one voice you like, then you don’t have to worry about hating the reader for any particular book. Brian is always Brian, and Salli even more so.

For iPad users, some tricks I have found are to make sure triple-tapping the home button turns Voiceover on and off, and to learn the gestures to select text to read and to start a continuous read. Scribd does not work very well with VO. It only reads two pages before snapping to read border controls and information. The only thing you can really do is turn it on, let it read two pages, turn it off, turn to the next unread page, and repeat.

I did figure out a workaround, but it’s not perfect. It works best at the start of a chapter (and obviously in books that come in chapters). Make the text as small as possible. If you are able to read at that size, whoa. Then clear all the menus and start Voiceover. It will still only read two pages before stopping, but by shrinking the text, you have crammed a lot into those two pages.

Seriously, I have been using this to get through those times when my hands and eyes are otherwise occupied with Owen’s less fun antics, the times when my attention is lacking, or when I just feel like being read to. Do you ever miss that? After a certain age, I was always the one reading to other people, and now I can’t read to myself because I run out of breath too fast. (dang cricoarytenoid arthritis…)

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