Confession: I am not a speed reader. I am not a fast reader. In fact, by all counts and measures, I think you'd define me as a "slow reader."
When a friend says, "Oh, this was such a fast read. I blazed through it in less than a day," I think, Okay, so probably more like four or five days for me. And when someone else says, "I was only going to read two or three chapters and then, oops, before I knew it, I'd finished the book!" I think, Has that ever happened to me? And when still another person says, "I'm just going to read the first couple hundred pages tonight," I think, I'm just going to read the first 30 pages tonight.
So I'm sure you're dying to know: How slow am I really? I conducted a couple of informal tests, and the answer is S-L-O-W. I was reading at about 165 words per minute. As a reference point, average reading speed for most adults is about 200 words per minute, which is about the speed that most people read out loud.
(It now makes sense why I can get through a book faster if I listen to the audio instead of read it myself! Also, I hope you appreciate the blow my ego took to admit that.)
Over the last three years or so, I've read an average of 50 books each year. That's about a book a week. Although not outstanding, it's a respectable number. But think, oh just think, how many more books I could read if I read just a little bit faster!
So the question is Why? Why am I so slow?
I have my suspicions, and most of them point to my obsessive compulsive nature. If I don't understand something, I re-read it. Sometimes it's just a sentence, sometimes a paragraph, sometimes a whole page. The problem is, I often get in a vicious cycle where I read something, I don't understand it, so I re-read it, but my attention kind of zones out, so I don't understand it any better (because I wasn't paying attention), so I re-read it again...and again...and sometimes even again. This goes for textbooks all the way down to chick lit or children's novels.
(Actually, this is more the way I used to read. I've improved by leaps and bounds over the last few years and rarely re-read so obsessively, but I'm still fast-as-a-turtle slow.)
Anytime I try to read faster, I feel like my comprehension goes way down, and I end up re-reading it, so in the end, it probably takes me longer than if I'd just read it at my slow pace to begin with. And so I do.
The thing is, I would LOVE to read faster. I have so many books I want to read. It is agonizing to read at such a slow pace.
So, all you speed readers out there (especially those of you who didn't start out so speedy), what tips do you have for me? I honestly do not want to use some computer program...I'm tight on time as it is. If I'm going to improve, it needs to be with something that I already want to read. Make sense?
Stay tuned for a more specific goal, but for now I want your advice! (And maybe your sympathy, too.)