It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s SUPER-reader!
[from “Captain [OF] America,” t.b. published summer 2018, Rod A. Walters]
A recent book reviewer* posted her own short essay about how she managed her business by reviewing a book a day. You did hear that right, one every day. She told me that she goes by the “rule” that a book shouldn’t take her longer than five hours to read. I had never thought about it that way! Simple: look at the book’s last page #, then divide by five. That tells me how many pages to get through each hour, more or less. I have heard that the average American reads between 200-250 words per minute.
Before you get all huffy and come waving your arms around, sputtering, “…but, but!”— yes, there are outliers, and here’s how to deal with those.
A first extreme might be The Brothers Karamazov (Dostoevsky), containing many, many hundred Russian-character pages. Reading that doorstopper in five hours would kill you. Here’s how the smart reader solves the Karamazov problem without guilt, without reading at 1,000 WPM: realize that the book really consists of four parts. Read each of these four Karamazov “books” in five hours at the standard 250 WPM, and still find time to enjoy a celebratory beer. Each book.
The other extreme might be The Theory of Relativity and Other Essays (Einstein), a wimpy 24,400 words. This Frisbee-weight book could be polished off in nothing flat, except for the equations. Heh, heh. Actually, there are very few equations. Also, there are pictures that should cut down on the reading time, if the whole thing weren’t as dense as a standard Samurai throwing weapon. The key here is also simple. Twenty-four thousand four-hundred words, divided by five hours, equals 4,880 words per hour, or a snail-paced 81 WPM! When you get to the equations, just promise yourself to get back to those if you need proofs, and realize that some of the pictures—physics diagrams, actually—will make for fast almost-reading. After all, in this book, “A picture is worth 12 words”! The great Einstein included a weensy essay connecting Relativity with ethics, and could also be gotten back to later. By all means, do so over that standard finish-line beer.
Clearly, not every book has to be read up in five hours. One such kind could be a textbook requiring study and notecards; or an art or photographic book for gazing. Some other kinds really should be doorstops or flat weights for when you want to glue something. Face it. Most books do not fall into these odd groups. For reading long books in a short lifetime, handle that the five-hour “rule” as a sort of rough average. You will be enormously pleased with your increasing reading speed. You can do it!
*Yes, this Great Reading Rule came from our own S.J. Main. Revere and honor her for this fantastic life-changer!
Written by Rod, A. Walters