Staples has created a pretty nifty online test where you can compare your reading speed to the national average. The test times you while you read a few passages, then asks you some questions to gauge your comprehension level.
I scored 993 words per minute, which made me almost three times faster than the national average. But that's still much slower than most speed readers who can read at about 1,500 words per minute at 50% comprehension (the world speed reading champion, Anne Jones, can read at an astounding 4,700 words per minute at 67% comprehension).
The site told me that if I maintained this reading speed, I could read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy in a mere 9 hours and 51 minutes and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien in 8 hours and 2 minutes.
How fast can you read? Take the test.
My own reading speed is average.
If I am reading for pleasure (meaning something I want to read but know I can't use so I am in hurry), I use the first few paragraphs to judge the writer's style, so I can figure out how many sentences I can skip along the way while reading the rest of it.
Those are horrible habits, but time management is crucial in this business.
1. Take the test and then immediately attempt to double your speed. Most people lose only 10% comprehension at double speed.
2. Crib the night before on tomorrow's subject matter. I once got infinite speed by not reading and getting 67% on the test.