Are you tired of getting lost in a sea of words every time you pick up a book? Or maybe you feel like you’re sprinting through a page-turner, but missing all the important details?
Well, fear not! Today, we’re diving into the ultimate guide for setting the perfect reading pace.
Whether you’re a tortoise or a hare, we’ve got tips and tricks to help you find your ideal speed and truly savor the stories you love. So sit back, relax, and let’s get our read on!
How Fast Should You Read?
Reading is an activity that individuals of many different ages and backgrounds participate in. While you may find yourself reading at home with a cup of tea, other people might find themselves reading while riding on a bus or standing in line at the grocery store.
With all this variation, it is natural to wonder what the ‘normal’ pace of reading is.
“If everyone is doing it differently, how should I be doing it?”
For me and many others, reading is a passion that can be practiced anywhere and everywhere:
- In class (if you’re lucky enough to have a teacher who allows it)
- While waiting in line at the bank or to board a plane
- While eating dinner with your family or
- Even while walking down the street and your eyes never stop moving across any printed material within sight range
When we read while doing something else (or perhaps if we read while doing nothing), there is no “normal pace” to speak of. When reading in these situations, we often call it skimming, speed-reading, power-reading, or whatever you want to call it.
It’s because reading is not a one-size-fits-all activity.
Reading varies from person to person and even daily for the same person because it depends on how old you are, how your mind digests information, what you’re reading, and much more.
Reading for Pleasure Means reading at the Speed that Suits the Moment.
Reading requires focus and attention, and if you’re focused on getting through your book as fast as possible, you won’t be able to appreciate what you’ve got in front of your face.
Your pace should be dictated by your mood—if you want to take a break from everything else going on around you, go ahead and slow down; if you need to power through that last chapter so that your book group can discuss it tomorrow night, then speed up!
Reading in whatever way suits you—at the speed that feels right at the moment—is a great way to incorporate pleasure into your daily life.
Reading for pleasure doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to feel good.
What’s Your Natural Reading Pace?
I am the kind of reader who will gulp down a book in one sitting.
Just like some people are sprinters and others are distance runners, some people are fast readers and others are slow readers. And just like being a sprinter doesn’t mean you’re better than everyone who’s slower than you, reading quickly doesn’t make your reading any more worthwhile or valuable than someone who takes their time with words.
If you don’t believe me, look at this graph that beautifully illustrates the different ways people read:
We all have different reading paces because we all have different ways of absorbing the text and comprehending what we’re reading.
People with dyslexia or other reading challenges may find that they need to read more slowly and carefully in order to take in every word. On the other hand, people who are extremely well-read may be able to skip over words they already know and move on to the next sentence’s meaning.
First, consider the material itself.
If you’re reading a textbook and you already know everything in it, there’s no point in slowing yourself down by taking in every word on every page. If, however, you’re reading a novel that you haven’t read before, it might be worth your time to let yourself get absorbed in the world and characters so you can better enjoy the story and maximize your enjoyment of your time with the book.
Second, think about how you’re feeling when you’re actually reading.
If you’re tired and want to get to bed as quickly as possible, you may want to read a little bit slower than usual so that it takes longer for you to finish the book. On the other hand, if there’s a part of the book that is really thrilling or suspenseful and you need to know what happens next, it might be worth speeding up so you can find out what happens sooner.
Set a Reasonable Reading Goal
We all know what it’s like to be engrossed in a book, but we often don’t think about how reading speed really can affect the way we interact with the story.
If you’re breezing through a book and everything is going smoothly in your life, you’ll probably want to read as much of it as possible before you have to put it down. But if things are stressful or complicated, chances are you’ll want to slow down your reading pace to give yourself more time with each chapter.
Knowing how fast you should be reading is like knowing how fast you should be driving. It’s a good idea to know what the speed limit is, but there are times when it’s better to go too fast than too slow.
There are times when you’ll want to get through a passage quickly and efficiently, while there are other times when you may want to spend extra time on a certain passage or even a certain word.
Knowing how to read faster can be important depending on your context, but so is knowing how to read at your own pace.
If you don’t know how much time you have for reading, there are some ways to estimate it. For example, if it’s summer, evenings might be free for leisurely reading, but if it’s schooltime or work and family are occupying your afternoons and weekends, you might want to aim for 10 pages a day to reach your book’s ending before the next long weekend.
If you’ve already been distracted from your book once and haven’t been able to pick it up again until now, consider reading one chapter per day until you finally finish. It may take some time, but getting into a rhythm of reading daily can help you reach your goal.
Stay 100% Engaged in Your Book.
You know that feeling you get when you first start reading a book and everything else falls away?
You’re not thinking about work or school or the laundry that you need to do or the movie you want to see. You’re just so engrossed in the story, and in some cases, it can even feel like a second reality that’s taking you over.
For a lot of readers, this is what they look forward to every time they pick up a new book.
There are so many beautiful moments in novels that deserve to be savored and explored in detail, like a delicious meal. We don’t always have the luxury of taking our time with a novel.
If you pick up the latest bestseller while you’re waiting at the dentist’s office or you’re listening to a new audiobook while in line at the grocery store, you might be too frazzled by your schedule to appreciate every single word as much as you would have if you’d had an hour or two to sit down with it.
To fully submerge yourself in a story and allow yourself to be swept away by its details, there’s no substitute for giving yourself plenty of downtime and setting it aside from everything else going on in your life.
Don’t Force Yourself to Finish a Book You Don’t Like.
In the world of literature, there is one rule that should be etched in stone: a reader should never force themselves to finish a book they don’t like.
Tempting as it may be to push through, you’ll only end up feeling resentful and frustrated by the time you reach the end.
If you don’t want to finish a book you’re reading for any reason, then don’t!
You don’t have to justify yourself or give an explanation—there is no reading police out there who will come after you if you decide not to finish this book. There are no points that can be docked from your reading scorecard. You should never feel guilty about putting down a book and moving onto something else.
You’re in charge of your own reading experience, and if you don’t enjoy the story being told, you have every right to move on to something more enjoyable.
(Im)Perfect Your Reading Pace!
If you take anything away from this article, let it be this: don’t get too caught up in perfecting your reading speed. There will always be ways to improve, but the most important part of reading is that you enjoy the process and truly understand what you are reading and why.
Speed is just a means to an end.
You’ll never get anywhere if you set an impossible pace for yourself.
If you find yourself getting easily frustrated at your progress, there’s a good chance that your deadlines aren’t realistic. As long as you’re enjoying your books and reading at a pace that works for you, don’t sweat it!
So read with passion: devour books that make you hungry for more, or take your time with those that are so thought-provoking they make you want to linger on each word.
Learn to embrace the culture of reading on your own terms from today.