I’m told that successful people read habitually and their success is in part due to their intense consumption of knowledge. That all makes sense, but who has the time to read that much?

I tried to read a book a week, but I failed because some books were bigger than others and some weeks were just not set aside for reading. I managed to read just over 25 books in 2014. I’ll take it, considering in that time I also read thousands of blogs and emails and documents.

I’m not a speed reader and in fact, unless I’m trying, I read just above the speed of an average reader. When I am trying to finish a book before I get off the plane, I can intentionally speed things up without losing the story, but not like speed readers do it, nowhere near it.

I took a speed-reading test sponsored by Staples and found that at my best I read about 560 words per minute (wpm) and at my worst, I was just above 320 wpm.

Here are the typical speeds at which humans read, and in theory comprehend, at various stages of educational development:

  • Third grade students = 150 wpm
  • Eight grade students = 250 wpm
  • Average adult = 300 wpm
  • Eleventh grade students = 350 wpm
  • Average college student = 450 wpm
  • Average high level executives = 575 wpm
  • Average college professor = 675 wpm
  • Average high scoring college students = 800 wpm
  • Speed readers = 1,500 wpm
  • World speed reading champion = 4,700 wpm (Seriously? That’s ridiculously fast!)

Assuming this is accurate, I’d have to invent time or read at my very best or better all the time to fit in one book a week (or choose much shorter books.) Maybe it’s time to take some speed reading courses.

This blog should have taken most of you about a minute to read.

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