9 Struggles All Speed-Readers Face

by Kristen Scatton

"Wait, isn't that a different book than the one you had yesterday?"

Back in junior high and high school, this was a question I got a lot. Not only were my friends slightly awed by how much I enjoyed reading, they also couldn't believe how fast I read. True, YA novels aren't exactly War and Peace, but I could still put away a few Little House on the Prairie or Scott O'Dell novels a week if left to my own devices. I never really thought of myself as a fast reader; if a book was good enough, I just didn't want to put it down until I was finished.

Reading theory experts debate whether speed-reading is actually a thing, and I've never tested how many words I can read per minute, but anecdotally speaking, I've come across other people who, like me, just tend to read a little bit faster. Research has shown that there aren't absurdly large gaps in the number of words read per minute by faster readers versus slower readers, and it doesn't have anything to with intelligence. Everybody just has their own talents. Yesterday, I spent four hours researching 17th century French mathematician Pierre de Fermat's mathematical discoveries for a project, and I couldn't understand that crap to save my life. We're all special snowflakes in our own way.

I love being able to read fast; it means I can really make the most of my reading time, which at this point is sadly far more limited than I'd like it to be (stupid adulthood) but it also presents some unique challenges.

1. Forget about reading anything simultaneously with someone else

"Are you done? Can I scroll yet? Are you done? Can I turn the page?" —Me every time I try to read something over someone's shoulder

2. "Following along" with someone reading aloud is impossible, too

More like, "I'll sit here quietly until you reach the end, which I read ahead to five minutes ago."

3. You're constantly in need of more reading material

You get a whole bunch of new books, and you're all:

A few days later, you've read all of them, and you're all:

Oh well, you know what that means:

Back to the book store!

4. People think you're some kind of sideshow freak

People see you with a different book every two or three days, and they can't even deal with it.

Clearly, you're not human.

5. "Silent reading time" in school meant amusing yourself until everyone else finished

Twenty minutes to read a few pages? Looks like I get a 10-minute catnap.

Or I'll just go ahead and finish the rest of the book now.

6. Not all books can be read fast

Of course, some books just can't be read quickly. Small type, foreign or made-up languages, sentences that go on for days — these things can trip us up, no matter how rapidly we want to push ahead.

7. People always expect you to catch the information they miss

When it comes to scrolling news, subtitles, and rapid-fire credits, you are the one last hope to which everyone turns.

8. You've probably destroyed your eyes beyond all hope

My eyesight has been eroding since I was in grade school, and I'm sure forcing my eyes to regularly take in millions of words isn't helping. Does anyone know if you can speed-read Braille?

9. Sometimes you have to remind your to slow down and savor the moment

Being a fast reader can sometimes make the act of reading start to feel like a race. I mean, if I can finishGone With the Wind;in three days, what else can I read in three days? Best remind ourselves that it's not a competition, and just enjoy the ride — however long it takes.

Images: Fotolia; Giphy