How Important is Reading Speed?

Nicole Melanson

Nicole Melanson ~

Woman lying with book on face

As a child, I read like a chain-smoker, starting another book the second I finished the first. Everyone always told me what a wonderful reader I was. No one ever told me that I was also really slow.

At university, I merrily cobbled together reading-intensive classes in Literature, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion. Experienced students warned me to reconsider, but I thought I could handle the course load. I adored stories and ideas. I loved immersing myself in different voices. What could be so difficult?

Mess of books

The answer, in short, was time. In one week, I was expected to read Othello, Ulysses, Being and Nothingness, The Epic of Gilgamesh…then write essays in response!

I’d seen high school classmates survive on a steady diet of Cliffs Notes, those yellow-covered guides replacing actual texts. The first time I picked one up in college, I bought it in a…

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