Tuesday, 28 July 2015

How Fast Do You Read?

For some of you, this may seem like an easy question to answer, but for me, it's difficult.  You see, the pace I can read at, is generally not the pace that I do read at.  Let me explain.


I started thinking about this when I took an online test to tell me what my average reading speed is.  My score was 766 words per minute - which is apparently 206% faster than the national* average, placing me just under "high-scoring college students".  I've actually done the test a few times - because, hey, why not? - and got around the same score each time.  The problem is, that when I'm feeling the pressure of the timer, I read the faster that I could, whilst still taking in the content (there's a few questions at the end of the reading to test your comprehension).

I've embedded the test below (hopefully it works!)** so if you want to try, go ahead!  It also lets you know how long it would take you to read some popular books.  Oh, and let me know what your score was.

*I'm assuming this company is American, so that national average, not the Australian.

** Turns out it's just an image linking to the website!


Do I actually read books at this speed?  No!

I generally read books a bit faster than "talking pace" - the speed at which I would read the words aloud.  This way, I get the most possible enjoyment out of being immersed in the world of the book.  I took the above test again, this time forcing myself to read at the pace I normally would and my new score was 406 words a minute - still 62% faster than the average, but no way near how I was reading initially.

There are exceptions to this, of course.  If I'm really disliking a book and I just want it to be over, but I still want to know what happens, I will read at the first pace.  Same goes if I'm reading a textbook for school and I actually understand what it's saying.

Another thing.  For me, reading fast can be exhausting.  I know it sounds silly - there's no physical exercise involved! - but after reading like that, I feel drained and like I need a break.


Of course, this has an impact on how many books I read.  I'd say on average I read 1-2 books a week.  Sometimes I get frustrated that I can't sustain the fast reading pace because I think of how many more books I could read if I could keep that up!  But mostly I'm just happy with how I'm doing it now.

So, how fast do you read?


  1. When I'm reading for pleasure it definitely depends on the situation I'm in. Some days I won't feel like reading so I may only get through a few pages. I also find that I read more difficult books much slower. I tend to focus on each word to make sure I'm completely sure what's going on. Then, on the complete end of the spectrum, if I'm free for a whole day and I have a good book to read I can go mental. For example, when I was reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, the first day I read 100 pages, the second I read 300 (which is basically the most I can read in a day) and the third I read the last 200. If I get into a book I tend to read very quickly, but if I'm not enjoying it I tend to go slower with more focus, which probably makes me pick up even more problems.

    1. I can definitely understand that. And difficult books take longer for me to read too!
      300 pages in a day is quite the accomplishment! I've very rarely read any more than that in a day - usually because I can't spend so much time doing just one thing.
      That's interesting that you pay more attention to books you're not enjoying. I guess it would help you to figure out exactly why you're not liking it.

  2. I feel like it really depends on what I'm reading. I took the test twice—both times trying to read as I do when I read a book for pleasure. The first time, it said I was 36% faster than the national average, and the second time I was 82% faster. And when reading the passages, I was more interested by the second one than the first.
    I think, when I read, what impacts the time it takes me the most is really if I enjoy the book or not.

    1. That really proves what you've said then - if you're more interested in what you're reading, you read faster. Interesting! :)

  3. For me, reading faster depends on the book I'm reading and of course, the language I'm reading in. It may sound weird but is actually quite important. While I'm used to reading in English, I do take my time and I read slowlier, sinking everything in. Any structure that is different from my own language and stuff, whereas when I'm reading in Spanish I'm faster. It's my mother tongue after all.
    But anyways, most of the time is about what kind of book I'm reading or how slow/fast the pace is. I will not read a fantasy novel full of action the same way I will read a classic or literary fiction for that matter. At the end of the day I don't really care how much reading I get done. What matter to me is how enjoyable (or not) the story is :)

    1. That makes a lot of sense. I can imagine reading in a second language would take longer.
      Yes, I definitely read classics slower than anything else.
      Haha well that's probably the best way of looking at it :)


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