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Harvard Coop

1400 Mass Avenue

Cambridge, MA 02138

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Discussion, Q&A & Signing "Scan Artist: How Evelyn Wood Convinced the World That Speed-Reading Worked"

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The best-known educator of the 20th century was a scammer in cashmere. “The most famous reading teacher in the world,” as television hosts introduced her, Evelyn Wood had little classroom experience, no degrees in reading instruction, and a background that included cooperation with the Third Reich. Nevertheless, a nation spooked by Sputnik and panicked by paperwork eagerly embraced her promises of a speed-reading revolution. Journalists, lawmakers, and two US presidents lent credibility to Wood’s claims of turbocharging reading speeds. A royal-born Wood grad said she’d polished off Moby Dick in three hours; a senator swore he finished one book per lunchtime. Fudging test results and squelching critics, Wood maintained her popularity even as science proved that her system taught only skimming, with disastrous effects on comprehension. As apps and online courses attempt to spark a speed-reading revival, this engaging look at Wood’s rise from missionary to marketer exposes the pitfalls of wishful thinking.

About the author:

Marcia Biederman has contributed more than 150 articles to the New York Times. She was a staff reporter for Crain’s New York Business and her work has appeared in New York magazine, the New York Observer, and Newsday. She is also the author of Popovers and Candlelight: Patricia Murphy and the Rise and Fall of a Restaurant Empire. She lives in New York.

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Harvard Coop

1400 Mass Avenue

Cambridge, MA 02138

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