Professional vs. Leisure Reading

Being a new academic reader can be very daunting and intimidating. New readers tend to have trouble deciphering and comprehending complicated texts. We divide reading into two categories: pleasure-driven reading (leisure reading) and learning-driven reading (professional reading).


Leisure reading is usually defined by enjoying a story, following the main characters, or maybe even learning a fun-fact or two. It often means reading a text once at a superficial level; and then returning the book to the shelf.

Contrary to that, learning-driven reading requires critical thinking, application, and retaining information. At  Upword we refer to this type of reading as ‘professional reading.’ Professional reading includes active reading that allows for learning and enhanced consolidation of the relevant information. Active reading is a reading strategy that allows one to engage with the text through smart annotation, problem solving and discussions to create a deeper understanding of the text.

"To learn to read is to light a fire"—  Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Another strategy for conquering academic literature, is through interacting with the text in a variety of ways to create the highest number of associations. This can be accomplished by taking notes, re-reading, and making summaries. The more associations that are created, the greater the retention and understanding in the long term.


Research demonstrates how taxing and time-consuming professional reading is compared to leisure reading. According to research done at Cambridge University, an average student reads about 149 words a minute while reading a scientific article, and 250 words a minute while reading fiction and non-technical texts. This means, that for a 20-page article with about 800 words per page, one would spend over an hour and a half reading it. There are about 20 million college students enrolled in the United States spending about 14 hours a week outside of class reading. In addition, 70% students report that they often do not complete all of their readings because they simply do not have enough time. These statistics demonstrate the difficulties faced by professional readers.


At Upword, we believe that this is where reading technology comes into play. With more and more digital readings for students, lawyers, doctors, and other professional readers, the need for an efficient and effective way to read is essential. Today’s cutting-edge technology such as AI has opened the doors to achieve just that. We have developed software that implements science-based learning methods automatically, in order to make reading more manageable and comprehensive.

Upword is passionate about bridging the gap between technology and the problems being faced in educational and professional reading. Catering technology to the needs of the modern professional reader will enable them to enhance their professional reading efficiency.


In the next post, we will share and elaborate on the state-of-the-art technology, learning science, and research behind our software. Our technology empowers professional readers to be able to tackle any text –– ultimately achieving our mission to help professional readers efficiently and effectively enhance their reading skills.

"Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life"- Mortimer J. Adler