Even before reading the article my first thought was how would we determine how long it would take someone to read a book? We all read at different speeds, and the speed I read at also varies depending on a number of things including:
- Whether the book is fiction or non-fiction
- If non-fiction, am I learning how to do something new
- Style of writing
- How interested I am in the story (fiction)
- Beauty of prose
Being able to speed read depends on how well the book, report or article has been written and laid out.
If it’s well laid out non-fiction I should be able to skim through the table of contents and/or section headings to find the specific parts that I need without actually having to read the entire book. The same should apply to a report or article.
What about the style of writing? Is it very dense academic writing or a pop-science read that is enjoyable as well as informative? This will make a vast difference on the length of time it takes me to read. It will also affect the length of time I’m able to stay awake while reading!
If reading a thriller or mystery novel, I would expect to be taken on a wild ride that doesn’t include a lot of heavy prose, but if I’m reading a more literary type novel I often like to re-read paragraphs just to enjoy the sound and flow of the prose. I may read parts of a short story several times as there are often layers of meaning that take time to see.
Non-fiction reading is often done for a reason and therefore I may have a time limit. I might be reading to understand information that I need to turn into training material. If I’m reading fiction then I’m reading for pleasure, and to me turning that into a timed exercise negates the enjoyment. I don't care how long it takes me to read the book as long as I’ve enjoyed the journey.
What do you think?