How fast can you read a book (and understand it)
They say reading a book should be handled as drinking wine. You savor it, you don’t rush to finish it. But I’m of the opinion that not all books are like wine. Some need reading without the need of pondering on every word (like most business related books). Hence I continuously look for ways to improve my books/year ratio. I’m currently at 1 book a week (see my list for this year) and here’s a breakdown on how I do it (My goal is to get to two books a week by next year)
I can read at about 480-500 words per minute to have a 100% comprehension. I only apply this speed to read work related documents such legal documents, product specs, dev docs.
For everything else, to achieve a 50%-75% comprehension rate – which is more than enough for me – I can go up to 700-1000 (you can use this website to test yourself)
Average book reading times
You average book has between 75,000 and 120,000 words
So if you divide this by your average reading speed you should get the average amount of time it takes to read a book. Kindle tries to calculate this by taking into account your pauses as well but most users find it wildly unreliable.
In my case I am noticing that my reading speed for books is closer to 300 because I get easily distracted (a word reminds of something i need to do, or something i need to research) so I pause often.
So an average book should take me about 6 hours to read. This would assume I take about an hour a day to read almost every day.
Audio books reading times
A typical audio book on regular speed has a 150-160 words per minute rate. Apparently our thoughts have a 10x greater speed than that so most people can’t really listen to books at this speed (I think) because thoughts pop up in between words.
My best audio speed is somewhere at around 2.5x – 3x the regular speed. So I can easily get around 500 words per minute and have a close to perfection comprehension.
It takes some practicing but this means I can finish a book in 3.5 hours.
That’s almost twice as fast than reading it!
30 minutes a day set aside for reading is much more achievable in my case. Especially just before I go to bed as it doesn’t strain my eyes OR during commute/wait time.
Next I will be working on
- learning how to get distracted less when reading and not listening to some content
- learning how to get better comprehension at high reading speeds
- improve my reading speed
- see if I can do audio at 3.5 speed and not loose comprehension
- see if I can add more reading time to my weeks
If I find reliable methods about the above I will be sure to publish an article about it.
Curious to see in comments how you manage to get through your list of books most efficient!