Slow Reader

How Fast Do You Read?: “You read between 350-400 words per minute. Well above average reading level. (The average rate is between 200 – 250 words per minute.) It is assumed that you did not skim the words nor fail to understand the meaning of what was read.”

Assuming that this level holds, it would take me 250 minutes (or 4.16 hours) to read a 100,000 word novel. If I were to die at the age of 85, I would have roughly 19,710 days of life, or 473,040 hours of life. Cutting out seven hours of sleep from those days (I assume that, as I get older, I will need more sleep), this leaves 335,070 hours left of waking life. If I were to somehow become a literary shut-in (god forbid) and devote every spare minute to reading (this also cuts out a full-time job), assuming that I was able to live to 85 with my vision intact, then I would be able to read a maximum number of 80,545 books. According to the Book Industry Study Group, the number of books published each year is 175,000. Let us immediately assume that 90% of these are worthless. This leaves us with 17,500 books a year (the top 10%) that are perhaps passable or worthwhile. By this criteria, I would only be able to keep tabs on 4.6 years of every book that is passable or worthwhile throughout the remaining duration of my life.

Thus, when one has boasted that he has “read everything,” you should be highly suspicious. For not only is it impossible to read everything, it is impossible to get through a pared down list. Given that 80,545 books remains the absolute maximum (and, at that, a diminishing figure as I grow closer to death), I do not anticipate my library growing too far beyond that number.


  1. A hundred thousand pages in 4.16 hours? Holy crap! You should be on TV! That’s like reading The Recognitions a hundred times in one sitting!

  2. I got 750-800 wpm, which means, well, absolutely nothing. A better test would have been a short piece of fiction rather than Kennedy’s oft-quoted inaugural.

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