When I read a fiction book, I savor it.
If the book is really good, I lap up every word at my leisure, sometimes re-reading paragraphs that are particularly well-written or compelling.
For me, great fiction is like a gourmet meal or a fine wine. You don't want to rush it or consume it too quickly lest you miss some of the juiciest morsels or the more subtle notes.
However, there are times when reading slowly isn't necessary or particularly helpful.
If you read non-fiction for business or personal learning, or you're required to read a fiction book (for school or otherwise) that you don't really like, then learning to read faster can help you retain more information in less time.
Aside from the convenience factor of reading faster, there are other good reasons for learning to speed read. It improves your memory, focus, comprehension, vocabulary and logic, as well as boosts your confidence and problem-solving skills.
Before I get into the skills involved in reading faster, I want to add a caveat here. Learning to read faster isn't about being able to say,"I plowed through dozens of books this year."
If you want to actually learn something from the books you are reading, it isn't all about increasing your speed to break a world record. You need to comprehend and retain what you're reading as you increase your speed.
A study of 16 high-performing people, including self-proclaimed “speed-readers,” found that none could read faster than 600 words per minute and still comprehend at least three-quarters of the information.
According to eye-movement expert Keith Raynor, just reading beyond 500 words per minute is difficult since the mechanics of moving your eye, fixing it and processing the visual information prohibit going much faster than that.
There is a diminishing point of return with reading faster. It doesn't mean much if you can't remember what you just read.
That said, you can increase your reading speed to some extent and enjoy the many benefits of reading more books in less time than you ever have.