My first job out of college was teaching speedreading. The company dressed it up with some critical thinking skills and called it development reading. But people took the class to learn to read faster. I had a week of training and was sent out to teach the two-month course at a boarding school.
The concept was simple and everyone’s reading speeds improved. Double was about average. Some of my students achieved rock star results and could read a novel in under an hour. Results for reading text book material were also spectacular. Speed increased 75% with simultaneous comprehension increase of 50%.
Most increase in reading speed results from trying harder. There are a few techniques that can leverage the push further. But all of it is hard work. Reading ultra-fast is a lot like playng pro sports, you have to work hard to get good, work hard to stay good, and when operating at peak, you are putting out a lot of energy.
Academic text is different from reading story. Reading faster enhances comprehension. Odd, I know, but true. There are a few different comprehension techniques that are useful for text.–simple stuff I could teach in an hour. Mostly it has to do with reading introductory and prefatory material and acquiring an overview of the main ideas and conclusions. Then you just read for evidence and arguments.
Today, I enjoy reading more than ever and I pay little attention to reading speed. Reading fiction fast just makes the plot unfold faster—the cinema in your head speeds up. And lots of nuance is lost. So is the music of the words. Would you watch a movie on fast forward? Would you read a sonnet fast?
Point is if you worry about how slow you read, especially fiction, don’t. Adjust reading speed to the content and what you seek from it.