Generally speaking, you should read at about 200 to 300 words per minute (wpm) or 30 to 45 pages an hour. This will enable you to keep up a strong reading and comprehension pace. Read between 100 and 200 words per minute (wpm) if you want to learn or memorize something. Above 400 wpm, speed reading is possible.
The advantages and disadvantages of reading quickly and slowly will be discussed in this article. The use of hybrid reading strategies will also be covered. Additionally, we’ll discuss reading speeds in general as well as how to speed up your reading!
So, shall we begin, shall we?
Table of Contents
How Fast Can You Read?
By learning the average reading speeds, let’s first comprehend how quickly you can read a book.
The typical reading speed of a reader is between 200 and 300 words per minute (wpm). A good reader can read at a speed of 300–400 words per minute. Those who are more proficient readers typically read between 400 and 700 words per minute. Around 700 to 1000 words per minute can be read by skilled speed readers.
The reading speed for each level of experience or skill is highlighted in the following table.
Range of Reading Speeds Based on Reading Experience
|Range of Reading Speed
|100 to 150 wpm
|200 to 300 wpm
|300 to 400 wpm
|400 to 700 wpm
|Highly Skilled Speed Reader
|700 to 1000 wpm
However, not everyone can read at even the average speeds. A typical beginner reads between 100 and 200 words per minute. You may fit into this category if you don’t read all that frequently or if you’re just getting started.
Don’t worry; as you read more, you should quickly achieve at least the average reading speed.
What Factors Can Affect Reading Speed?
Like many things, “average” means that there are people who read much more slowly than that average figure and those who read much more quickly. There will be variations in reading ability among readers.
A beginning reader may read one or two words per minute while trying to decipher each word individually, but as they put the words together in a sentence, their reading rate may soar. In particular, if they are vocalizing the words while reading, people who are not frequent readers may find it difficult to read at a pace slower than their normal speaking rate.
Reading speed and comprehension are significantly impacted by enjoyable practice. Finding reading material that students find interesting can sometimes make the difference between a student reading and a student who doesn’t.
Without a doubt, reading is a skill that needs to be practiced. Reading is a visual, kinesthetic, and cognitive skill, so different people are likely to practice it at varying skill levels. It is possible to improve reading abilities by reading for at least fifteen minutes each day. If the reader finds the reading material enjoyable, the fifteen minutes will fly by without feeling like a chore and may even turn into an hour or more of relaxing activity.
Nature of the Material
Good readers can read interesting fiction or magazine articles quickly because they typically read at a speed of 300 words per minute. A reader’s ability to read quickly will likely be slowed by dense textbook material that is packed with unfamiliar facts and vocabulary.
On the other end of that scale, if specific information is needed quickly, experienced readers will switch into “skimming,” a reading mode that scans down a page looking for keywords.
Motivation to increase reading speed can also play a role. In order to read the bestselling books before they are made into movies, or for financial gain because being able to quickly process a lot of information is useful in both school and the workplace.
Mental and Physical Health
Reading speed will be influenced by a reader’s mental processing speed as well as any physical impairments, such as the need for corrective lenses or glasses. Because reading is both a physical and mental activity, the rate at which the reader’s eyes can move across a page may also have an impact on reading speed.
Medium Being Read
The type of reading material also has an impact on reading speed. Reading a computer screen, a computer monitor, an electronic tablet, a cell phone screen, a printed book, or even a newspaper requires slightly different abilities.
The way the medium is held (or perhaps not held at all), how the words appear, and how the information is formatted all differ. Some speed reading software presents text one word at a time, putting the reader’s ability to comprehend the text to the test by forcing them to comprehend the word right away and connect it to the words that came before it.
Should You Read a Book Fast Or Slow?
Reading a book fast or slow depends on the context. For instance, if you’re taking part in a speedreading challenge, you should read quickly. However, reading slowly is advised if your goal is to put yourself to sleep while you’re reading.
The majority of readers, though, don’t fit into either of these categories and are instead looking for great ideas or stories that can be found quickly.
The majority of people who regularly read have a reading plan. Regardless of whether you read quickly or slowly, your reading method must have a good reason for being.
You can’t read quickly to impress someone or slowly to adhere to someone else’s suggested word count. Reading must be done in a way that is comfortable for you because you read for yourself.
You may be able to choose the approach that works best for you by considering the advantages and disadvantages listed below.
Pros of Reading a Book Slowly
Have the Capacity to Form New Ideas
One significant benefit of reading slowly is this. You are constantly absorbing and processing information; you are never just consuming it.
If you give your mind enough room, it will constantly compare ideas with your past experiences. If the brain isn’t too preoccupied trying to keep up with your reading pace, this results in new insights.
Because of this, reading a book slowly and even including pauses is the only way to benefit from connective reflection.
Capture Nuances of the Content
When you take your time reading, you can fully immerse yourself in the experience, whether the book is fiction or non-fiction, useful information or a fantasy novel with rich worldbuilding and lore.
Rarely are books written to be browsed for inspiration. They should be read at least at an average speed.
Cons of Reading a Book Slowly
While reading at a slow pace has its advantages, it also has some drawbacks
The fact that you lose interest in the book halfway through when you read more slowly than is necessary is one of the biggest disadvantages.
Few books have content that is so compelling that you will force yourself to pick them up again after only reading the first chapter for a month.
Fewer Ideas in a Year
The amount of books you read each year decreases as your reading speed slows. This implies that you’ll receive fewer original ideas.
This is still a disadvantage, even though it is preferable to having no new insights, so you should counteract it by speed reading or summary skimming as part of your reading strategy.
Pros of Reading a Book Fast
Takes Less Time
If you don’t have time to try anything new, making time to increase your reading speed is still worthwhile because it will prevent you from giving up reading altogether due to other obligations.
Covers a Broad Range of Ideas
You’ll need to have access to more ideas if you run a podcast where you interview authors or if you work in a position where you must impart a variety of ideas.
A fast reader can read a book in a day and gain inspiration from 7 different authors in a week.
Yes, you shouldn’t read to impress people, but that doesn’t change the fact that for most people who find reading difficult, finishing a book in a day is impressive.
Cons of Reading a Book Fast
When you skim an idea, you get the general idea but not the depth the author intended.
Due to the shallowness of the ideas and the amount of filler in most books, this is not a concern. However, reading Ryan Holiday or Nietzsche slowly will prevent you from understanding the deeper meaning that lies beneath the concept’s surface level.
The amount of time and effort you invested in acquiring something directly relates to how much you value it.
There’s a psychological concept called the “Sunk cost fallacy,” where an individual continues in a failing venture, project, or relationship mainly because of the effort he has put into it.
We value our time and effort, so when ideas come to you quickly through speedreading, you might not value them as highly.
The Hybrid Strategy for Reading
If you want to get ideas and inspiration from a book, you should read it quickly; however, if you want to internalize the ideas, you should read it more slowly. This is not mutually exclusive; you can read a book quickly before returning to reading slowly to give each concept more time to sink in.
Both busy CEOs and book reviewers use this hybrid approach.
In order to get the best results, the hybrid reading strategy combines speed reading with slow, deliberate reading. You receive brief insights, and whatever sufficiently piques your interest is given a deeper exploration.
Bill Gates is a good example to use. He reads each book more slowly when he only reads 50 books.
But it’s difficult to imagine him picking up a book off the shelf and devoting a week’s worth of his time to it (worth over a hundred million dollars) without knowing in advance the kinds of ideas the book contains.
You should either speedread the book or get a Blinkist summary of it before reading it slowly in order to gain such insight beforehand.
This is not advised for beginning readers, who should instead use their curiosity (also known as idea blindness) to delve into a book and discover each idea by doing the reading work necessary.
A hybrid strategy can only be used when reading is not boring to prevent the reader from skimming and moving on to the next book. Otherwise, the reader may be tempted to do just that.
How Long Should It Take to Read a Book?
You can read a book in a variety of times depending on a number of factors.
In general, it takes 10 to 14 hours to finish a 400-page book. Your reading speed, the volume of the book, and its level of difficulty can all affect how long it takes you to finish reading a book.
400 pages is the average number of pages in a book. 30 to 40 pages should be read in an hour by a typical reader. You can finish reading a book in five to ten days, depending on how many hours you read each day.
How Fast Can Experienced Readers Read?
A proficient reader can read at a pace of 400 words per minute or more on average. In addition to reading more quickly than average readers, experienced readers also have higher comprehension levels than average readers. A reader’s brain becomes conditioned to process information more quickly with practice.
You must invest numerous hundreds of hours in reading before you can consider yourself an experienced reader. As the famous Malcolm Gladwell said in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success” that you need to spend 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of a certain skill!
Although new research suggests that it is not just the number of hours spent, but also the quality of training or teaching that you get, and how you capture the learnings and course correct during the period of these 10,000 hours that matters more.
The key is to practice reading more and more every day if you want to become a proficient or experienced reader.
How to Improve Your Reading Speed?
You can try a variety of methods to quicken your reading.
One common and effective tip is skimming through your reading material. Skimming is reading quickly to familiarize yourself with, get an overview of, and grasp the main points of an article. By using this technique, you can speed up reading and enhance comprehension.
Another tip is focusing on what you read and avoiding distractions to avoid re-reading, which can slow down your pace and your comprehension.
Tracking your progress will also help by setting a time during your practice. A thorough tutorial on speed reading can also be found by enrolling in online courses like Iris Reading’s Speed Reading Foundation Course.
What is the Fastest Someone Has Read a Book?
If you search for the top readers in the world, a few names will come up. Howard Berg and Maria Calderon are known by these names. The world’s fastest readers are generally praised for them. There are videos in which you can see how fast they are “reading”.
Maria Calderon claims to be the Being the fastest reader has a Guinness Book of World Records entry. She is said to have read almost 50,000 words per minute in 1968. She read a 3000+ word essay in 3.5 seconds.
Howard Berg did something similar in 1990. He is listed in the Guinness Book reading at 25,000 words per minute.
Speed reading is no longer a challenge for the Guinness Book of World Records. I think this says something…
If you look around a bit more online, you’ll find some programs that promise to teach you to read this quickly and quickly. I am sure you know about the secret technique to “put a book under your pillow and the next morning you read it subconsciously”…
Let’s face it, reading this quickly requires a substantial amount of prior knowledge. To read this quickly, you must have prior knowledge or a scheme. A speed reader probably won’t be able to read a 5,000-word essay with fictitious facts in 10 or even 1 minutes, I’m sure of it. Even if they can read it, it’s highly unlikely that they can recall the right details.
Please take note that I am not referring to a character like Rainman. His mental abilities are not something that can be taught. You should therefore develop your reading skills. When you are reading something you are unfamiliar with, speed is not the most crucial factor.
Let’s Get Practical
A person’s reading speed is not solely based on their level of knowledge. Additionally, it is based on the kind of book you are reading. A Harry Potter book can be read in a few hours. It takes more time to read a book on chemistry.
Reading fiction typically takes less time than studying to learn new things. I usually suggest that people study one page for 2 to 4 minutes. That entails reading, comprehending, and making notes. You can now read between 75 and 150 words per minute as a result. Although it isn’t particularly quick, it does contain all the information you need to fully comprehend the page.
You should be able to study between 15 and 30 pages in an hour using this method. Consider that you can read 30 pages an hour. It should take 10 to 13 hours to finish a study book in its entirety.
You shouldn’t attempt to read this much in a single day, in my opinion. The next day, your head might feel stuffed. Set aside an hour every day to study. In about 15 days, you can finish the book. This gives you ample time to complete exercises, assignments, and test preparation.
Studying speed can increase as one studies more. There is, of course, a limit. But practicing will help you get better at it!
Should You Read a Book Fast?
This leads us to a very crucial point. Is rushing through a book necessary? You don’t need to read very quickly to study quickly, as you can see in the previous section. Reading alone is not enough to study. If you study for an hour per day, you can finish your book in two weeks if you study a page every two minutes.
The type of book will determine how quickly you read it. The amount of time you have also affects how fast you move! You are probably more focused when you don’t have as much time. Both reading speed and topic focus will increase.
Only through reading can you translate the words on a page into ideas and information in your head. The following step is to carefully review what you have read. How is what you understand related to what is known at the moment? You may take a few notes and after that… you “download” (I mean read) some more information from the book comprehension comes before reading speed.