A woman reading a book

Proof That I’m a Slow Reader

I just timed myself. I read 180 words a minute. The average adult reads 200 to 300 words a minute, and speed-readers clock up to 1000 words a minute. I do this on purpose. By slowing down, I give the words on the page room to breathe.

Every word has meaning. Consider the word “educated.” If you came across this word in a book, you could zoom past it and know the meaning. But if you slow down and give the word some space, you might wonder about it. By slowing down, your brain has more time to apply the word to the story.

Notice, also, the word has a feel. Say it out loud. How does “educated” feel in your mouth? It’s a harsh word, choppy and to the point. Each syllable takes a different shape, forcing the word to tumble off your lips like rocks careening down a steep mountain.

And what about the context? This word means something different to you than it does to me. Yes, we both know the standard definition: to be schooled or learned. But what does it mean to you? If you’re the first person in your family to go to college, then this word holds a different weight than someone who dropped out of high school or someone who just got admitted to Princeton.

I read slowly for many reasons. There’s no point in speeding through a book. You miss 99% of the value when you jam the words together in a race to the final page. It’s better to read one book slowly than to read 100 quickly. I’m not aware of anyone handing out awards to people who read quickly. But if you can manage to slow down, your book will reward you daily.

Try it. Open whatever book you’ve been reading and purposely slow down. Feel the words in your mind. Give them the space and time they need to reveal their deeper meaning. I can guarantee that that one page will make a greater impression on you than all the pages of the book you’ve read previously.

Until tomorrow, read slowly – take notes – apply the ideas.


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