How fast can you read?

I feel like I’m a “slow” reader, which is annoying enough when you simply “do the math” and figure out how many more books you could read if you, say, increased your reading speed by twenty percent? 50 books in a year (roughly the pace I’m on this year) becomes 60, and – depending on what those extra ten books are – think of what I could be missing!

Of course, reading speed depends a lot on what you’re reading. Non-fiction is slower than fiction, “classic” fiction or literature is slower than modern fiction, etc. But, even on the “easier” reads, I still feel like I’m slow: e.g., I just finished the Hunger Games trilogy, which is quite a page turner and yet I probably averaged only 45 pages an hour. Very disappointing. Maybe it’s poor concentration.

One of my friends in my book club reads a prodigious amount, and I find this very annoying 🙂 Earlier this year, after I had discovered “The girl with the Dragon Tattoo…” books and was on the final one, I told her about them, and she ended up reading all three books before I even finished the one I was on. Then, just this past week, I told her about the Hunger Games series ( where I was on book three of the trilogy) and just between Thursday night and Sunday afternoon she had almost completed them all as well. It was only by my eschewing watching NFL in the late afternoon that I was able to prevent a repeat of “The Girl With…Reading Incident” 🙂

I think it was Woody Allen that said, “I took a speed reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.” Of course, comedy is his profession, but that’s kind of how I’d imagine speed readers to comprehend their books.

All kidding aside, though, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to read a little faster without losing any comprehension in the deal? That’s kind of a Holy Grail for me. Has anyone out there successfully increased their reading speed? Has anyone tried any of those “gimmick” (you can tell I’m a skeptic) books or courses that allegedly increase your speed? I imagine just reading more and more might make one a little bit faster, but I’m not sure that I’ve noted that on a personal level, and this has been one of my most active reading years. So… How fast do YOU read? Go ahead, make me feel worse. 🙂