If left to my own devices I’m quite a slow reader. I read every word. Those who need to get a lot of reading finished know that you are not supposed to read every word. In fact, we learn this very concept in school (though many of us forget it). We are meant to read phrases. In fact, we get just as much comprehension from reading phrases as we do from reading words. Some people can even train themselves to read entire lines (I’m not there, nor do I imagine I will be… maybe ever).
If I’m not paying attention, I typically read a book like I’m trying to memorize it; word by word and often re-reading sentences or paragraphs. This is good when there is a particularly lovely passage but not when how much you read matters for your job (or even if you’d just like to get through a book in less than a month!). Lately I’ve had to remind myself to read in phrases; when I do, I scream through a book. When I don’t, it can take weeks. Here’s another reason that reading slower makes for a slower finish; you get bored faster. The pacing of a book can have quite a lot more to do with the pacing of our reading than one might think. If you are slowly reading through a dry spot in a book, you are less likely to turn to that book for entertainment and therefore will be more likely to put off the reading (and the finishing) of the book. If you can speed read through these dry spots, you are more likely to find yourself in a more interesting passage of the book, and so on.
For me – there will always be certain types of books that I slow-read. However, for the most part (and for most contemporary literature) I can, and should, get by with speed reading. What about you? Are you a natural speed reader (or a self-taught speed reader), or do you take a leisurely stroll through all of your books?