Although the average person reads about 200-250 words per minute with a comprehension rate of 70 to 80%, some of the top contestants at the World Championship Speed Reading Competition read five times that — 1,000 to 2,000 words per minute with a comprehension rate of 50% or higher. But Howard Stephen Berg, of Mckinney, Texas, leaves even those speed readers in the dust — he reads more than 25,000 words per minute! Since 1990, he has been recognized as the fastest reader in the world by Guinness World Records and his record remains unchallenged. To put this speed into perspective, let’s compare how long it takes the average reader and the world’s fastest reader to read some lengthy reference and literary masterpieces:
The entire Oxford English Dictionary (1989 edition): 20 volumes; 21,730 pages; 59 million words
Average reader: 205 days
Howard Berg: 1.6 days
The entire Encyclopedia Britannica (2002 printed edition): 32 volumes; 33,000 pages; 44 million words
Average reader: 153 days
Howard Berg: 1.2 days
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust: 7 volumes; 3,031 pages; 1,267,069 words
Average reader: 4.4 days
Howard Berg: 51 minutes
The entire Harry Potter series (U.S. edition): 7 volumes, 4,100 pages; 1,084,170 words
Average reader: 3.7 days
Howard Berg: 90 minutes
The King James Bible: 774,746 words
Average reader: 2.7 days
Howard Berg: 31 minutes
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy: 1,440 pages; 561,093 words
Average reader: 2 days
Howard Berg: 37 minutes
Read related posts: What is the Longest Novel Ever Written?
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For further reading: Super Reading Secrets by Howard Stephen Berg (1992)
Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages by Ammon Shea, Perigee (2008).
The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A. J. Jacobs, Simon & Schuster (2005)