I’ve always been a fast reader, faster than most people. I’ve read and reviewed 176 books in just over two years, or about two books a week. That doesn’t count newspapers, magazines, blogs, and other online reading.
When I was 10, I had an operation on both my feet and I spent all summer with my legs in plaster. My mother had to go to the library every day because they’d only let her take out three books at a time for me. On the flight back from Ireland two weeks ago, I read two 500-page books. My personal best, though, was the long, long night that I read seven short novels.
I’ve known people who read faster than me, but not many. One friend at college seemed to read about twice as fast as me.
I just tried a couple of online reading speed tests, which rated me at 650-700 words per minute. One of the tests also indicated that online reading is slower than reading a book.
A reviewer for the LA Times read 462 books last year. I might be able to do that if I had nothing else to do. She talks about ripping through an 80,000 word book in 90 minutes. A number of the commenters claimed to be ultra-fast readers too.
I’ve never taken a speed reading course. I naturally developed a high reading speed. My comprehension and short-term retention is good. My long-term retention is not great, but this is equally true for movies that I’ve watched.
I think my high reading speed is why I have no patience for podcasts. I can read five times faster than anyone can talk intelligibly. Unless there’s a lot of additional information in the soundtrack, such as music or an unusually talented delivery, I’d much rather read.
There are screen readers that will speak at triple speed for blind users: ‘To the untrained ear, the output is incomprehensible, but it allows [T.V.] Raman to “read” at roughly the same speed as a sighted person.’