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Waiting for the inevitable slow reading movement
May 5, 2014 11:16 AM   Subscribe

How fast do you read? (previously.) The average adult allegedly reads 300 words a minute, but if that's too slow, there are ways to improve it.
posted by MartinWisse (77 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I apparently read 510 words a minute. Huh. Something to put on the ole CV, I guess.
posted by Kitteh at 11:21 AM on May 5


I'll take 330 after a night of drinking. Sure. It's funny how I can totally read some peoples writing way faster than others. Gabriel García Márquez, no matter who does the translation? Piss off.
posted by ZaneJ. at 11:24 AM on May 5


It really depends on what it is. There are things I can read at awesome speed rates, and others I read as slowly and carefully as possible.
posted by bearwife at 11:26 AM on May 5 [7 favorites]


You read 2,108 words per minute.
That makes you 743% faster than the national average.


are you fucking shitting me
posted by elizardbits at 11:28 AM on May 5 [12 favorites]


So Spritz sounds great, and even somewhat scientific. But can you really read a novel in 90 minutes with full comprehension? Well, like most things that seem too good to be true, the answer unfortunately is no. The research in the 1970s showed convincingly that although people can read using RSVP at normal reading rates, comprehension and memory for text falls as RSVP speeds increase, and the problem gets worse for paragraphs compared to single sentences. One of the biggest problems is that there just isn’t enough time to put the meaning together and store it in memory (what psychologists call “consolidation”). The purported breakthrough use of the “ORP” doesn’t really help with this, and isn’t even novel. In the typical RSVP method, words are presented centered at fixation. The “slightly left of fixation” ORP used by Spritz is a minor tweak at best.
posted by zamboni at 11:29 AM on May 5 [11 favorites]


You read 983 words per minute.
That makes you 293% faster than the national average.


I wonder how much of this is that I've read War Of The Worlds before of COURSE I know they're coming from Woking.
posted by The Whelk at 11:34 AM on May 5 [11 favorites]


You read 9,980 words per minute.
That makes you 3,892% faster than the national average.


Who needs reading when you can just click a button and be rewarded? Also, I'm pretty sure your national average is not my national average.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:35 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


zamboni, just to add to that, a recent study found support for the idea that so-called "regressions" during reading (i.e., back-tracking and re-reading words/sentences) are integral to comprehension. This is something that speed-reading apps like Spritz interfere with.
posted by tybeet at 11:37 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


I don't think I've ever been able to match the speed and recall of my 6th grade self illicitly reading Star Wars novels during class.
posted by Standard Orange at 11:39 AM on May 5 [23 favorites]


Apparently I'm an artisinal/craft reader.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:41 AM on May 5 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I think a five-second sample isn't particularly representative.

says the girl who got 2,333
posted by Madamina at 11:43 AM on May 5


I'm a pretty fast reader — I stopped and squinted at Woking for a moment and still came in at 701 wpm — but I'm really impressed if people are getting in the thousands with decent comprehension. I can read really fast in a pinch, but I know I'm sacrificing some (many?) of the details when I do.
posted by Mothlight at 11:44 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


I don't want to read faster. I want to read slower, so the books I enjoy last longer.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 11:46 AM on May 5 [13 favorites]


I am a fast reader but I prefer to take my time to think about what I am reading. I started rebelling against my previous rush-rush tendencies and reading became a whole lot more fun for me...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 11:49 AM on May 5 [4 favorites]


I've read War Of The Worlds before of COURSE I know they're coming from Woking.

Wow, spoilers.
posted by desjardins at 11:49 AM on May 5 [9 favorites]


I sometimes read aloud to slow my reading and increase my enjoyment. I remember reading a chapter of Norman Rush's Mating aloud to my cats, who couldn't understand a word because I was laughing so hard.
posted by janey47 at 11:49 AM on May 5


but I'm really impressed if people are getting in the thousands with decent comprehension

Yeah, exactly. 15 minutes later and I can't remember a single word of what I read nor can I remember what the questions were about. This "test" measures nothing.
posted by elizardbits at 11:49 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


That one with the red letter showing words at 600 wpm was amazing. I felt like if I practised with that I would be able to read real fast. What a cool idea.

Nthing the comprehension issues, though.
posted by marienbad at 11:54 AM on May 5


“I just sit in my office and read all day.”

This is how Warren Buffett, one of the most successful people in the business world, describes his day. Sitting. Reading.
hmmmmmm
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:57 AM on May 5 [7 favorites]


I put this sort of thing in the same category as "develop a perfect memory!" and "learn languages in hours!". That is, many many people would like this to be true, and many will try it in the hope it might work.
It doesn't.
If your reading speed is slower than average, it possibly can be increased to more normal levels, but page-a-glance reading with reasonable comprehension is not achievable (or, to put in the caveat, achievable only by a very few).
And I still don't have a perfect memory, and I only know a few languages.
posted by librosegretti at 11:57 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Apparently I no longer have my hard-won ability to divine exactly how fast to read a text to be able to the regurgitate information in it 45-60 minutes later.

All those train rides to school doing homework, wasted.
posted by griphus at 11:58 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


There is a distinct difference between remembering and understanding content.
posted by cardboard at 12:01 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


I'm a natural life-long speedreader (apparently I scare people). Lately though I've been training myself to read slower because I end up missing a lot of detail otherwise.

I got circa 1000 on that test and that was with me slowing down. Had I realized there was a test I'd slow down more (i got all of them right, probably by luck) I'd slow down more.
posted by divabat at 12:05 PM on May 5


Eeeeeeeeeeeeeearrrrghspldk this kind of thing drives me BONKERS. A three question test (which one can pass with a score of 67%, I checked) is no real way to judge reading ability, and that was just about basic recall of facts anyway, not actual comprehension. Also, as people have said, the text is really very short.

People like to think about reading speed because it's a simple and understandable metric by which to judge, but it's really far from the most important; accuracy, prosody, and the ability to build meaning and make connections are far more important. It is much, much better for a kid to read forty words a minute with 95% accuracy than to read 200 words a minute with 10% accuracy. I've had students who were sure they were good readers because they read aloud with fluency but they absolutely did not get any meaning from the text.

Yeah, this is an interesting exercise, but the focus on speed, which is important but not uniquely so, reinforces issues with how we think about reading.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:06 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]


So, I got about 1/3 of the putative average of my colleagues. hmmmm.....
posted by oddman at 12:25 PM on May 5


It seems a little strange to try to quantify reading speed like this. I can technically read as fast as I want to, but there is going to be attrition in comprehension. Beyond just recalling some multiple choice facts, I'm always re reading stuff and flipping back to try to connect what's going on to what's already happened, etc.

I have a feeling the reading speeds might be slightly different for excerpts from Finnegans Wake or like Infinite Jest.

"riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend
of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to
Howth Castle and Environs.
Sir Tristram, violer d'amores, fr'over the short sea, had passen-
core rearrived from North Armorica on this side the scraggy
isthmus of Europe Minor to wielderfight his penisolate war: nor
had topsawyer's rocks by the stream Oconee exaggerated themselse
to Laurens County's gorgios while they went doublin their mumper
all the time: nor avoice from afire bellowsed mishe mishe to
tauftauf thuartpeatrick: not yet, though venissoon after, had a
kidscad buttended a bland old isaac: not yet, though all's fair in
vanessy, were sosie sesthers wroth with twone nathandjoe. Rot a
peck of pa's malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by arclight and rory
end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface."


It appears your reading speed is 10000% below the national average. Would you like to seek help?
posted by Gymnopedist at 12:30 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]


... so pretty much exactly the same score as when I last did one of these things (Grade 9, 1974), and I was good at the comprehension then, too.

Which means, what I've been saying all these years is right: I still read at the same rate I did when I was a kid.

And I wouldn't want it any other way. I love a good story. Why would I want it to end any sooner?
posted by philip-random at 12:32 PM on May 5


It's as if this were a gimmick to sell e-readers.
posted by goatdog at 12:33 PM on May 5 [3 favorites]


I don't get the need to read fast, as if it's a badge of honor. When I read, I like to take the time to hear the characters speaking, and get a good feel for the scene. I also like to go back over sentences and paragraphs if the author is an especially good wordsmith. Reading for speed is a bizarre metric, imho.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:37 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Only 497 :(

But it's only my second language so there.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:41 PM on May 5


The problem I have is that I actually hear the words as I read them. Reading anything faster than a reading-aloud pace makes any dialogue sound like commentary from a horse race. I have no idea how a speed-reader can get any pleasure at all from dialogue; it must seem like the characters are all in some sort of perpetual frenzy of speech.
posted by pipeski at 12:42 PM on May 5 [9 favorites]


Instead of optimizing the speed at which I read things, I'd much rather optimize the quality of what I read. For instance, I spend more time on Metafilter than Reddit. I also read The Economist instead of the SF Chronicle. It takes more time to read higher quality stuff, but the reward is worth it. (Lest I sound like a total snob, I'm also re-reading the last two Song of Ice and Fire books, for which speedy reading is definitely necessary).

What I really want is a faster way to consume video and audio content. I almost never listen to podcasts because they're so poorly edited and take so long. Playing back at 1.5x speed or whatever does help, but I just wish there were an effective way to skim audio and video streams.

(Also thanks zamboni for posting the science on RSVP/Spritz. I played around with RSVP in the 90s and while it does work, it's awfully exhausting. OTOH it's a perfect way to present a book on a tiny phone screen and I'm surprised Amazon hasn't tried including an RSVP viewer in their Kindle app.)
posted by Nelson at 12:46 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


I always thought I was a fast reader - I regularly employ tricks to force myself to slow down, either for enjoyment (especially with comic books!) or for better comprehension. But it often takes me a few pages to get into the story and get up to speed. I regularly have to read the first couple paragraphs of a book/chapter over again to get in the right frame of mind. This is exactly what happened here - I got an excerpt from Alice in wonderland, read the first paragraph a couple times yet still missed the question referencing it.
posted by misskaz at 12:46 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


You read 287 words per minute.
That makes you 15% faster than the national average.


The national average is 300, right? Which is faster than what I'm reading at?

These folks speed reading their math homework or something? nyuk nyuk nyuk
posted by phunniemee at 12:47 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Oh wow, I got 98,734 words per minute. Shrug, no biggie.
posted by ian1977 at 12:47 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Choice of content obviously has a huge impact on reading speed.

I think Cortex said in a podcast once that one of the longboat threads was a few megabytes longer than War and Peace. (W&P is around 575 thousand words, depending on the publication). Most of the participants burned through it in an all night marathon, others made jokes about needing an extra day or two to finish. But that doesn't mean most Mefites could polish off Tolstoy's tome over the weekend.

"I took a speed reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It's about Russia." -- Woody Allen
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:48 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]


This is where I criticize the test but actually brag about my reading speed.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:50 PM on May 5 [10 favorites]


Jesus, you must all be reading super-brain ninja masters I only got 46 words per minute.

Because internet
posted by From Bklyn at 12:50 PM on May 5


I find myself laughing at the little bar graph of "first graders read X fast, college students Y fast, executives Z fast..." Sure, executives read fast, because all they read are goddamn bullet lists in executive summaries.

And the idea that "college professors" are the fastest readers of all... well, that clinches it -- I assume this is a graph invented to impress the rubes, made up out of whole cloth.

Also, the author suggests that buying an e-reader can increase the number of books you read a year -- which means to me that he or she doesn't understand what going on behind the stats that report that those who own e-book readers read more books than others. I would think it's because a faster reading population buys ebook readers, not because the ereaders themselves will have the effect of speeding up one's reading, if one is a slow reader. This is the sort of pop-sci misinterpretation of superficial statistics that one finds all the time on the web and tv news, and which makes me cray-zee.
posted by aught at 12:51 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]


All I know is that I read at the optimum speed.
posted by ian1977 at 12:52 PM on May 5


The average adult reads 300 words per minute.

The average internet video conveys 30 words per minute. And yet, video is ... all the rage.

Why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why????
posted by Dashy at 12:54 PM on May 5 [12 favorites]


The average human blinks 15-20 per minute. But by following these tips I am up to 180 blinks. As a result, my eyes are super moist and I flush gnats and flecks of dust out of my eyes in record time.
posted by ian1977 at 1:02 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]


video is all the rage.... why?

Because advertising.
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:04 PM on May 5


By hitting x60 speed on the dvd player, I can watch 60 hour long documentaries per hour. That is 59 more than the average.
posted by ian1977 at 1:11 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


It is kind of depressing to be told that Lord of the Rings can be done in 4 hours, 47 minutes. It minimizes the the pleasure in a long, slow read. Now, it is a sprint that leaves one empty.

Also, I wish "average" college students could read at 450 words per minute. It would have reduced the amount of complaining about reading load for a course.
posted by jadepearl at 1:12 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


I don't get the need to read fast, as if it's a badge of honor. When I read, I like to take the time to hear the characters speaking, and get a good feel for the scene. I also like to go back over sentences and paragraphs if the author is an especially good wordsmith. Reading for speed is a bizarre metric, imho.

Sure, if you're talking about reading fiction or reading for pleasure, that makes a lot of sense, and I think in that context discussing reading speed doesn't make a lot of sense. But a huge percentage of the reading I do on a daily basis is not that: I have to read instructions and manuals, I have to read any document I'm signing, I have to read signs and directions. At work every day, I have to catch up on the news in my field, and read white papers, and read operational emails. For that stuff, speed of reading can MATTER. If I read my work correspondence half as quickly as I do (which, as a 700ish wpm reader according to this, it seems like many people do), we're talking about hours more that I would be working every week to get the same productivity. In school and grad school, I would sometimes need to read hundreds of pages a day, and for that speed matters too.
posted by brainmouse at 1:12 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


tl;dr

Which, like, makes me the winner, right?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:21 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


I used to read poetry because it forced me to slow and savour what I was reading rather than just gulp down a novel as though a junk food meal. Those were the days I was a pretentious undergrad student. I still love poetry and I love the slowness of unwrapping words and meaning, but I've realised that wolfing down a good book or two can be incredibly satisfying too. Brains change with age.

Oh, and 1248 word/minute with English as my second language. Listen, it's my only skill. I cannot catch a ball to save my life and I have no idea how to put IKEA furniture together. Don't judge.
posted by kariebookish at 1:28 PM on May 5


I'm an extremely fast reader with reading comprehension through the roof. It's my only real talent or gift, but probably developed through some kind of 10,000 hours of practice or something. Anyway, I was pretty proud of this for no reason until I went to an eye doctor for the first time, and he told me I had the most symmetrical retinas he had ever seen, and the strongest blood vessels? I think? he also had ever seen. (I know I have some detail of this wrong.) Apparently my eyeballs were a perfect matched set. He called all the other eye docs in to have a look. Talk about not knowing something about yourself!

Every eye doc I've had since has had a similar comment. So since then I've always been curious, did the constant reading give me such great eyeballs or did my eyes help with my reading? Or both? So whenever I meet IRL a person who also reads fast, I always lean in and go, "Hey.....so has your eye doctor ever commented about your eyes and their symmetry?"

Thorzdad- I agree that reading fast shouldn't be a badge of honor, but I know the amount of time I spend reading e-mails, manuals, texts, articles, etc. is far less than my colleagues, and thus makes me much more productive. And if you're in a business meeting, reading a power point slide or a handout, comprehending it, and processing it for out-loud questions and commentary in half the time of your colleagues can make one look extremely good, prepared, ready for action, blah blah blah. I'm probably not the only one here who takes advantage (oh shit! I didn't read the e-mail for the meeting - but I got 2 minutes!) and thus have to turn it into a pride thing rather than admit it covers for my other faults and weaknesses sometimes.
posted by barchan at 1:31 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Speedreading! how retro.
posted by thelonius at 1:38 PM on May 5


read faster

Read Faster

READ FASTER

READ FASTER!!!!!!!!!!
posted by b1tr0t at 1:41 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


aught: "And the idea that "college professors" are the fastest readers of all... well, that clinches it -- I assume this is a graph invented to impress the rubes, made up out of whole cloth."

No no, "high scoring college students" is higher. So I guess profs weren't in that category in their youth, or grad school does something to the brain...
posted by pwnguin at 1:41 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


Dashy: "The average adult reads 300 words per minute. The average internet video conveys 30 words per minute. And yet, video is ... all the rage .Why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why????"

But with pictures being worth 1,000 words and etc... that's really 30,000 words per minute.
posted by tybeet at 1:43 PM on May 5


Beyond mere comprehension, there's also a sort of temporal atmosphere that the best authors try to carefully craft. I could probably burn through Cormac McCarthy's The Road in an hour, and maybe even get all of the broad details of the plot down. But I would not get the sense of slow dread, the inevitability of the situation, the subtle melancholy of every action, every repitition. And then the small glimmer of hope and redemption is something to process slowly, to feel that flood rush in after a few hours of despair. I'd never want to burn through a book like that. You have to live it as the characters live it.
posted by naju at 1:48 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]


I cannot enjoy a novel unless all the characters speak in my head with the same cadence and tone as they would speak in real life. That means it takes me a while to get through a book, but that's just fine with me. I don't focus on long-term memorization of facts and events, but instead on momentary comprehension, which is key to my enjoyment. This has made so-called comprehension tests more work for me, as I have to actively take myself out of the moment and try to memorize bits and pieces of character and plot. That is why classroom reading always was a partially broken teaching theory for me personally, but a great help to many others.

It's also too bad that quantity and title-dropping seems to be the intellectual measurement we take.
posted by Muddler at 1:49 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


barchan: The main "this is unusual" comment I've gotten from an eye-doctor-type was that one eye was shortsighted and another one longsighted, but in equal measure (0.25 both ways, though I think that's changed now). I was the last holdout for glasses in my family and I still don't wear mine as I should.
posted by divabat at 2:02 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


I used to be a very fast reader. I was that kid - like a lot of you, I'm sure - who would devour at least a book a day, as long as my supply was kept steady.

The internet's really shot that all to hell. I've practiced distracted reading for years, and the concentrated reading I do tends to be technical academic articles, the type that involves a lot of flipping back and forth for information instead of a streamlined read-through.

I bet one of the best ways I could improve my reading speed would be to just start reading books in quiet again. But I'm not going to take this test as an indicator of my actual reading speed, because it's really not designed for accuracy at all. The margins of error are going to be WAY wide.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:12 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


“I just sit in my office and read all day.”

This is how Warren Buffett, one of the most successful people in the business world, describes his day. Sitting. Reading.


Hmm... can't we speculate on posts and motives in Metatalk as well as create derivative swaps (think: only the first music swaps and gift swaps were original - all the rest were derivative).

...

??

!!

...

OH MY GOD! Participation in MetaTalk can make you rich like Warren Buffett!

You need further wild conspiracy theories? The next big ponzi scheme is being arranged by Matt - he hasn't really been investing that five bucks!
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:19 PM on May 5


“I just sit in my office and read all day.”

-Patrick Bateman
posted by naju at 2:21 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


I've found that I've been reading more slowly over time. That's because I care a lot more about retention these days than I used to.
posted by JHarris at 2:25 PM on May 5


I read a novel every day. They're not deep novels usually. A lot of YA and fluff, but it is a pleasure to sit with a coffee and a book for an hour. One month, I decided to read everything Agatha Christie had written (except her archeology memoir which I couldn't find) and that was amazing fun, a novel at each meal. After a while, I could feel the texture of the books, the style shed chosen for each of her series and repeating words and phrases like an accent in text.

I can and do slow down for some books, when the text is dense or for the pleasure of the writing. I've been listening to TH white's The Once and Future King on audio for six months on and off because I never ever want it to end, and keep going back to repeat chapters.

Fast reading means most books are about the same investment of time as a film. People watch films repeatedly and so I read books I loved repeatedly.
posted by viggorlijah at 2:38 PM on May 5 [4 favorites]


You read 1,346 words per minute.
That makes you 438% faster than the national average.


I've always read really fast. I don't skim, but I don't necessarily (I think?) read the words in the exact order they're presented in. When I 'm reading a novel, as opposed to a contract or article, I read by "osmosis" and then go back when something sticks out in my mind that I didn't get in the first blink.

I did get all of the quiz questions right, but I wonder if I would've if I had to answer them 15 minutes later? I might need to slow down.
posted by cell divide at 2:46 PM on May 5


I was born 2.5 months early (in '74) and they told my mother I would be blind, deaf, dumb, mentally deficient, etc. Tried to make her sign me over to a home. She told them to screw off, "I don't care if I'm wiping his butt when he's 30, I'm his mother."

So of course she had me reading by the age of 3. I'd ask for the newspaper when it came in and spread it on the floor and crawl around reading. Had to get special permission to check out books from the "grownup" section of the library when I was 8-9.

I've always read fast, had teachers accuse me of not actually reading material, etc. I think it's just due to sheer volume. Never done any official speed-reading programs or anything like that. Nowdays I'll read one or two books a night. Thank goodness for ereaders and instant gratification.
posted by mrbill at 2:50 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Actually, I just realized the main reason I read fast is because of the incredible motivation of earning a free pizza through Pizza Hut's BOOKIT! program. I still occasionally have dreams about those purple buttons and gold stars.
posted by barchan at 3:01 PM on May 5 [7 favorites]


Reading is a kind of drug for me, and I mean that literally.

Three years ago, one of my birthday presents was Bujold's 4 vol. Sharing Knife series, and in addition to a bunch of other nice stuff, I was treated to a big home made steak and baked potatoes dinner and a home made 10'' cheesecake with lemon curd topping and a flourless ground almond crust for dessert.

Well, I got a little out of control and ate the entire cake except for one small piece that my partner got, and at about 10 the next morning I developed a bad stomachache. It hurt a lot, but the fear that I might be having a gall bladder attack--as my partner has been predicting for years that I would because of the amount of fat I eat-- was much worse than the pain.

So I did the only thing I knew how, the only thing other than sleep which has always (since I finally learned to, anyway) been a refuge for me: I started reading. By 3:30 that afternoon, as I put down the last book with deep regret that there was no more to read, I realized the stomachache had resolved itself and that I had experienced almost no pain, and that five and a half hours had passed like so many minutes.

I usually remember the books I've read in that state pretty well (I could still name more than 35 characters from the Sharing Knife when I tried a couple of weeks ago, for example) but in order to get into it with technical books, I have almost always had to have a fever of at least 100 ºF.

Incidentally, I haven't touched pot since that one time several decades ago now that it completely obliterated my ability to read even the simplest text.

Reading is a jealous drug.
posted by jamjam at 3:30 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]


Also previously.

By both inclination and habit, I read fast. But as with eating, talking, and kissing, years of teaching myself to slow down has paid off handsomely.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:42 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


I consider myself a slow reader. I wouldn't mind reading faster. I read fewer than 300 wpm in this instance. I have re-read fewer than 20 books in my lifetime, but I remember a lot from the books I have read. I also tend to read several books at the same time, switching between them as they capture my fancy.

I've generally just given up on books that don't interest me after a hundred pages or so - and I own a bunch of books I know I'm supposed to read someday...

Whatever.
posted by Chuffy at 4:01 PM on May 5


This test has made me realize how much my reading speed depends upon being aware of the context of what I'm reading.

When I started the excerpt I didn't even know if I was going to be reading fiction or non-fiction or what. I kept re-reading to check if I should know about the pit, or where is Woking, or why the sky is lemon yellow, who is the narrator. Once it clicked for me that this is War or the Worlds, I zipped through the remainder because I had a context for everything.
posted by RobotHero at 4:54 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


Often I wish I read slower, especially when I'm reading a good book.

But as an academic, and one who is reading final papers this week - fast reading is my secret weapon.
posted by Dashy at 5:07 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Falling asleep while reading is a very strange experience, because it can be such a gradual process I don't even realize it's happening. It's sort of the opposite of speed reading.

At first everything is normal, but then comprehension gradually slips away. The part of the brain that scans words is still awake but short term memory (or whatever) must be asleep because I read the same paragraph over and over and it makes no sense. Then I realize I've just spent six minutes on one page and must be tired. Just one more time and then it's bed..... ZZZZZ.....
posted by Kevin Street at 5:23 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


aught: "I find myself laughing at the little bar graph of "first graders read X fast, college students Y fast, executives Z fast..." Sure, executives read fast, because all they read are goddamn bullet lists in executive summaries."

The bar graph made me cranky; it seemed really quite grossly shallow and elitist and based on...what?! Executives do what with the reading? The people who type in a language best be described as privilege-pidgin? I don't believe that this category reflects comprehension scores.

I have always been a fast reader with quick comprehension. However, I have absolutely noticed that the agility of my understanding has slowed down markedly. I note that have a MUCH more difficult time absorbing reading I've done on a screen vs on paper. I print out things at work if editing, etc. and I favor hard-copy books when reading for my mind and not just for quick news. But I do feel like a toll has been taken, and I am not sure at all how much is practice vs technology vs age. Hard to tell.
posted by desuetude at 11:34 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


Just a question for people posting very high rates: Are you voicing the words in your head?

I think I read at a pretty normal pace. When I'm into a novel, I'll speed it up to an extent, but only by rushing and blurring my internal voice. Maybe I can get 600 wpm or so.

Skimming is obviously something else, which personally is reserved for things like newspapers and metafilter comments. I can't imagine reading novels or academic articles in this way.

So yah, is there some trick that people are using where they're not processing the information audio-ly? If so, are there times when you still want to read things 'outloud' in your head anyway?
posted by Alex404 at 12:26 AM on May 6


Often I wish I read slower, especially when I'm reading a good book.

But as an academic, and one who is reading final papers this week - fast reading is my secret weapon.
posted by Dashy at 14:07 on May 6 [1 favorite +] [!]


Ps. Your students hate you.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:32 AM on May 6


jamjam, I did the same thing you did a few times at night when I had gastric attacks. I found reading something I enjoyed (Bujold and Pratchett top that list) more effective for my pain than taking antacids or painkillers.
posted by Alnedra at 2:57 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how anyone could get 1,000+ WPM. There's no way I could move my lips that quickly.
posted by snofoam at 5:32 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


It may be worth noting that you can adjust the amount of content for the speed reading test.

There's a little cog where you can set a length from the default (4 paragraphs) to the longest (15 paragraphs).

Additionally you can choose the book (should you like to re-test yourself with fresh material).

There are more question at the end if you read more.

You can even adjust the font-size if that'd help.

Cheers!
posted by narwhal at 11:38 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


I just read this entire thread in three seconds. Something something reading comprehension, something something Woking, blah blah blah doublin their mumper all the time with twone nathandjoe, something something college students are dumb, executives are dumb, something something symmetrical retinas, The Once and Future Agatha Christie, blah blah blah Pizza Hut, adjust the font-size if that'd help.

I think I got the gist of it. In conclusion, America is a land of contrasts.
posted by webmutant at 10:12 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


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