Monday, December 31, 2012

The Art of Reading: Pace

The Art of Reading: Pace

All bibliophiles have at least one thing in common: the love of books. Still, as I'm reminded every time I talk to another reader, that doesn't mean we express our affection for the written word in exactly the same way. I'm referring to how we read.

This post's theme: pace. How many books do you read? Of course, there are countless ways to measure this. 10 books a year/6 books a month/1 book a week. 30 minutes a day/25 hours a week. 100 pages a day/1,000 pages a month. Not to mention that such measurements obviously involve rounding and guesstimates... unless you really do require yourself to read 100 pages a day, no more no less.

I read approximately 50 books a year or 1 book a week. I'm always trying to bump that number up to 100 books a year, 2 books a week, but I'm deluding myself if I think I have that much free time! I doubt I could give a page number estimate, but in terms of time I try to read at least an hour a day, right before bed. Yay for me whenever I get to read more than that!

Pace is a funny issue, though. Many readers can be rather quiet on this topic, often because such quantifications make them feel inadequate. There's always someone who reads more than you! I especially noticed this when I first started attending literature conferences. Compared to most of my friends and family, my 50 books a year seemed like a lot, but at conferences I meet people who devour books at rates that seem impossible to me.

Of course, there are a lot of factors that affect how much we read. I don't read one book a week because that's as much as I want to read, but because that's as much as I have time to read. If I didn't need to work or do errands and my entire day was my own, I'm sure I would read more! Some people simply have more time than others and it's odd to criticize, say, someone who works three jobs, is taking some college courses, and acting as a single parent for two children for reading less than someone retired, on vacation, or in between jobs etc.

Then there's how fast you can read. When two people read a page at the same time, they might find that one person has to wait patiently for the other to finish. Over my years of avid reading, I've noted that I read approximately one page per minute. True, it varies depending on words per page, font size, and how well the book holds my attention, but it's accurate enough that if I want to read for half hour, I slip my bookmark thirty pages from where it is now and don't even glance at the clock until I reach that bookmark.

Then there's how much you actually enjoy reading. Book addicts find themselves limited by free time and how fast they can read, but there are many people out there for whom reading might be a secondary hobby or even lower on the list. My primary hobbies are writing, reading, sketching/painting, more or less in that order. I adore all three and yet I devote my spare time first to my own writing, then to reading, and last to painting and sketching to the point that I hardly ever paint or sketch anymore. For someone who might have reverse priorities, they probably wouldn't read very many books despite claiming to love reading.

Don't forget size of the books! The page count of books I read varies so much that I might find myself finishing four books in one week, but only one book in the next month. So if you measure your pace by number of books, average page length becomes a factor, too.

How about you? How many books do you read? Feel free to measure in books/pages/ time - per day/week/month/year. We know it's an average! Have you had periods of your life when you hit a reading lull or, better yet, reading highs when your pace astounded you?

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