Do You Speed Read?

Some people devour books, racing through them in record time and finishing two, three, four, or more in a single week.

Others read slowly, taking days or weeks to make their way through a single story.

I’ve never considered myself a fast reader. Not that reading is a race, but I can’t blast through a book the way our daughter can. Like some of the reviewers I’ve interviewed, she can polish off a 300-page story in a few hours.

I recently began reading while walking, thanks to a tip left by Katie Ganshert in a comment on my post Your Reading Time. I’d never tried combining the two before that, but it works for me, since I walk on a dedicated hiking trail where I encounter only other walkers, joggers, cyclists, and the rare equestrian. This rails-to-trails path is paved and has well-marked lanes, so I’m able to walk along one edge using my peripheral vision.

I’ve learned that I can read about fifteen pages in the time it takes me to walk a mile. Since I can walk a mile in around sixteen minutes, that means I’m reading roughly one page per minute. When I complete the round trip on my favorite section of the trail, I log six miles and savor ninety pages of a novel.

I seem to read more quickly when I walk. My theory is that my steady pace down the path seems to keep me turning pages at a brisk rate. While I’m not normally a fan of multitasking, this is one time when doing two things at once works well for me.

My reading speed might be faster than some and slower than others. Comparison isn’t important. I’m interested in increasing my reading speed for my sake. I have limited time and oodles of great books I want to read.

• • •

Are you a speedy reader, or do you consider yourself to be a slow one?

Have you discovered ways to increase your reading speed?

Have you ever walked and read at the same time?

Image from Dreamstime.

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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49 Responses to Do You Speed Read?

  1. Carla Gade says:

    Great idea to read and walk. I read in the car on long trips when I take them. I’m constantly reading….fav place is in bed. I’m definitely not a speed reader.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Carla, I wish I could read in the car like I did when I was a kid, but once I got, um, mature, I tend to get queasy when I do so. Might be time to explore audio books.

  2. jessicarpatch says:

    I read when I’m on the treadmill, walking. I can’t read and run. DISASTER!!! But I am a fast reader and can read a book in a few hours without missing out on anything. I wouldn’t call it speed reading. My sister does that, somehow she omits all the articles and I’ve seen her take in a chunk of info (textbooks usually) in an hour and retain it. I don’t think I could do that. Or want to! LOL

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Jess, I wouldn’t try reading and running either. That would be pushing it. Of course, I have no interest in running anyhow. I’m not as ambititious as you lovely young ladies.

  3. I do one thing, read, only because I haven’t tried doing it any other way… yet. It depends on the book I am reading ~*~ I want to quickly find out what happens next, it is dragging out for me in places when I want it to get moving, or, and the best, I really slow down near the finish because I don’t want it to end and leave the characters behind!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      I’m all for slowing down at the end to savor the story. Leaving characters I’ve grown to love behind can be downright painful.

  4. cynthiaherron says:

    I usually carry a book with me everywhere because I never know when an opportunity to read might present itself. I’m a fast reader, but I don’t always have the time to sit down and read anymore. Having a book handy in my purse or tote helps me be more intentional when I’m getting my car serviced, waiting at an appointment, or during those unforseen moments that might present themselves.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Cindy, I love how you take advantage of those unexpected snippets of waiting time. Using them for reading is a great idea. Of course, I get so into a story I’m afraid the receptionist, service writer, etc. will have to call my name several times before I realize the person is trying to get my attention. 🙂

  5. Gabrielle Meyer says:

    I would consider myself a moderately paced reader. Before I started writing, blogging and reading writing craft books, I used to read a book a week – whenever I could sneak a minute in here or there, but now I don’t read nearly as much. Since Fevruary I’ve only read three fiction books, but I’ve also read three James Scott Bell Books and about a thousand blog posts! 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Gabrielle, I hear you on all the other reading. Between blog posts, loop digests, Facebook updates, etc., I probably read the equivalent of a novel a week.

  6. My husband always teases me about how quickly I read. I’ll have been reading for an hour and he’ll look at my page count and I’ve already read something like 90 pages. But I can only really do this with fiction. I think nonfiction takes longer for me to absorb.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Lindsay, after reading your comment I have four words: Thou shalt not covet. I wish I could read zippy fast, but I’m such a detail person that I’ll stop to admire a clever turn of phrase, a snappy line of dialogue, a wonderful verb choice. Yes. I have a love affair with words. 🙂

  7. If it’s a book I’m enjoying, I’m a quick reader. The last time I timed it was a Denise Hunter book – so about average length for trade fiction – and it took just under 3 hours. Right now, I’m working on a book to review and it’s only okay so am having a hard time – have been working on it off and on for a week… Narcotics slow me down ;). When I had my nose surgery, it took me all day to finish a Love Inspired :D. Sometimes I wish I read slower so I could savor more, but being a fast reader allows me to read a lot more books so… it’s kind of a toss up…

    And yeah – nonfiction is a whole different ball o wax…

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Carol, I’m impressed that you could even read while you were medicated after your surgery. I hope you’re doing heaps better now.

  8. Erica Vetsch says:

    In comparison to my husband I’m a speedy reader, but I don’t think I’m all that fast. I like to read while riding the stationary bike. Where I walk has too much traffic, and I’m such a klutz, I’d be a hazard if I tried to read while I walked. 😀

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Erica, I don’t picture you as a klutz at all. Everytime I’ve seen you, I’ve been impressed by how calm, cool, and collected you are. And how kind and sweet!

  9. wendypainemiller says:

    I actually read pretty slowly, but I usually have a handful of books I’m reading at one time so it could appear otherwise.
    ~ Wendy

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Wendy, I admire the way you can juggle different books at one time. I have a hard enough time going from my story world to the one in the book I’m currently reading. Trying to read more than that would exceed my limits, I’m sure, and I’d end up even more spacey than I already am. 🙂

  10. I love that you are now reading and walking!!! Isn’t it the best?? The walking goes SO fast when you’re immersed in a great book! I’ve never timed my reading before, so I have no idea if I’m fast or slow. I definitely can’t read a 300-page novel in hours though!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Katie, my inspiration! I’m totally sold on reading while I walk. The only downside so far is that my shoulder gets to hurting after a while from holding up the book. I can just see it now. I’ll get one of those tray thingies that popcorn vendors at ballgames always carry–at least on TV. On second thought, I’m already getting enough strange looks as it is from the other walkers. 🙂

  11. Casey Herringshaw says:

    I’m a definite 300-page-in-a-few-hours reader. I have to be with all the books on my TBR mountain, LOL! I’m always accepting or requesting way more than I should for a month’s expectations. 😉 I usually have an ebook on my Kindle. 2 books I switch back and forth between on my nightstand and one on the exercise bike. It’s so awesome to read good books and know there are more waiting for you. 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Casey, you were one of those speedy readers who came to mind when I wrote the post. I am not jealous of how fast you can blast through a book. No, I’m not. Not one little bit. No way. No how. Perhaps if I say it enough times, I’ll sound convincing. 🙂

  12. Loree Huebner says:

    I have a hard time walking and chewing gum – I cannot walk and read…lol. I look around too much! Even on the treadmill!

    I like to savor the pages – fiction and non fiction. Sometimes I read fast, but most times, if I’m going to spend the time reading, I try to enjoy it and read at a regular pace.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Loree, I think it’s cool that you enjoy your surroundings while you walk–even while on a treadmill. I can’t help but wonder, though, if your treadmill looks out on a busy street or or if you’ve got it facing the TV or something, so that you’re always seeing new things.

  13. this won’t earn me any points in california, but before the law about cell phones….i would read while driving. not that they’ve passed a law (that i know of) that you can’t read (maps, anyone?) while driving, but i just assumed it must be a bad idea. i’d read on my daily commute to work when i lived in ferndale, about 25 minutes from my work. i’d read on the way back. i’d hold the book up eye level with the steering wheel and had absolutely no problems, mainly b/c it was just highway, not stopping and starting. don’t think i’d try it in town. haven’t done it in years, though.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Jeannie, you’re quite, um, adventurous. I don’t even like to read directions when I’m driving for fear I’ll plow into something. I’m thinking audiobooks could be your friend. 🙂

  14. Darlene says:

    I am not a very fast reader and need to sneak in reading time. I commute to work so I read on the bus about 45 minutes each way. On weekends I walk to the beach, find a log and read for about 20 -30 minutes, then walk back. I get my exercise, fresh air and reading at the same time. I have tried reading while walking but have also bumped into things. I have mastered reading while standing on the bus or skytrain though.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Darlene, that’s the way to use commuting time. You must get in quite a bit of reading that way. Your beach reading time sounds like fun.

  15. Brianna Soloski says:

    I would fall flat on my face if I tried to read while I walked (and I walk most everywhere, so technically, I could get a lot of reading done). I am not a speedy reader, though. I am getting faster and can finish a book in a week or so vs. a month or so. Also, I find I read faster on my Kindle than when reading a hard copy of a book.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Brianna, I’m curious. Why do you think you’re able to read faster on your Kindle than you do when reading a paper book?

      • Brianna Soloski says:

        I don’t know. I read the ends of books first when I’m reading a hard copy. On my Kindle I don’t look ahead and I make the font a little bigger than what it’s automatically set at. On my Kindle I can get through a book in a week. It’s weird, I know.

        • Keli Gwyn says:

          Brianna, I have a hunch if I read on my Kindle more and had the ability to enlarge the type, I’d be able to go faster. Until Kindle versions are a lot cheaper than print books, I’m still opting for print versions. I’m old-fashioned that way.

          • Brianna Soloski says:

            I still read a lot of print books, but I do love the portability of my Kindle.

  16. Marji Laine says:

    I think I could manage that on my treadmill, but on the trails I get too drawn in by the details of my surroundings. My camera is my favorite trail-walking partner.

    As far as reading fast – I wish! Most novels take me 10 to 12 hours to finish. And I have the bad habit of starting them in the afternoon or early evening. I’ll read until my eyes start crossing, then finish the next day. I could probably do 3 or 4 a week like that, but then I’m too tired to enjoy them.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Marji, I think it’s cool that you take pictures when you walk. I like it when you share them with us, so we get to enjoy them, too. Like you, I read late in the day and sometimes find myself fighting sleep so I can read just one more chapter.

  17. Lisa Jordan says:

    I’m a fast reader, but I have to force myself to make the time to read. I need to start reading while on my treadmill. That way I’m accomplishing two things at once, but counterbalancing fun with … not so fun. 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Lisa, I’m impressed that you can work reading time into your busy schedule. I’m sure that by the time you’ve spent the day with your young charges, gotten in your word count, and enjoyed being with your family, that you’re pretty much ready to answer the call of the pillow.

  18. Keli, I have a vision of you walking and reading and BAM … smack into a street light. Seriously, I think any safe activity that increases our reading power is a must on my “to-do” lsts. Although I am a fast reader, I often deliberately slow down enjoy the different pace of each book. Love this post 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Florence, I’ve yet to run into anything as I read while walking. Thankfully there are no streetlights on the trail. What I’m more concerned about is stepping in doggie piles. Not all of the dog owners who walk the trail make use of the bright blue baggies.

  19. Carol says:

    My reading speed is somewhere in the middle. I read quickly, although am not a ‘speed reader’. When I get into an absorbing story I’ll finish it within one or maybe two days because I ignore everything else until I’m done. Consequently, when I have tasks waiting to be done I don’t pick up books as often as I’d like. I love vacation time when I have lots of uninterrupted leisure time to fly through so many of the books that have been waiting on my TBR pile. But I don’t multitask while reading. If I tried walking and reading I’d probably step on a pebble and break my ankle! 😀

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Carol, I totally get being so pulled into a story that you don’t want to do anything else. Before I began writing, that’s the way I was. I wouldn’t start a book unless I knew I could blast my way through it. I’ve had to discipline myself to read piecemeal. It’s not easy, but reading a story a little at a time is the reality of my life these days.

  20. Sherrinda says:

    I used to be a speedy reader, being able to read a book in a couple of days. But then I started working outside the home and my reading suffered. I read EVERY night, but usually only read 2 or 3 chapters a night before I konk out! 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Sherrinda, like you, I manage to get in two or three chapters a night. That’s why discovering that I can walk and read at the same time–without endangering life and limb–made me so happy,

  21. karenk says:

    i’m not a ‘speedy reader’….i’ll have to take your (and katie g’s) advice and read during my next walk…thanks for the suggestion 🙂

  22. Oh Keli—I’m in awe of you being able to walk AND read at the same time! 😉 Since my spinal surgeries I have to be “extra careful” when walking, so unfortunately I wouldn’t even be able to attempt reading while walking. But for you and others who can, how wonderful! ~ I’ve said many times I would love to be a speedy reader, but am not *sigh*. I think it’s because I’m savoring the words and sometimes even re-read certain passages I like. But like you, there are SO many books I want to read and limited time to do so, so it would be great to read fast. ~ Sadly, I’m not able to read in the car either—I would be terribly sick. 😦 My husband has learned not to ask me to look at a map while we’re traveling, LOL. Even a quick glance down makes me turn green!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Patti Jo, I can totally understand why you wouldn’t want to attempt reading while walking. A fall in your case could be very detrimental. I can relate on a small scale. My doctor warned me that I’m more susceptible to fractures should I fall than most, due to my osteoporosis. However, we’ve caught it early, I’m still relatively young, and the trail I walk is paved and doesn’t allow motor vehicle traffic, so I feel pretty safe. I’m able to stay right near the edge of the trail and not weave all over the place or stumble off the trail. If my doctor were to express concern about my new “skill,” I”d stop.

  23. Susan Mason says:

    Wow, I’m impressed, Keli. I don’t think I could walk and read. I’ve tried it on a treadmill and got a little seasick with the bobbing. I did used to like reading on the stationary bike though.

    I’m a pretty fast reader. This weekend I started Karen Witemeyer’s latest book “Short-Straw Bride” and finished it within 24 hours! Of course I was home and had the time to just read. What a wonderful story! Love her writing!

    Sometimes though I have to go back and re-read parts, especially the endings which I read so fast. The second time around I can savor it!


    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Sue, I’m really looking forward to reading Short Straw Bride. I’m a huge Karen Witemeyer fan, and this story sounds like so much fun. Marriage of convenience stories are my second favorites, right behind mail-order bride stories.

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