Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Reading Habits

Since the beginning of January, I’ve tried to read a minimum of two hours per day. So far, with obvious moments of lapse and catch-up, this has been an achievable goal. Since watching TV turns your brain into pickled baboon turds, my googlebox supplement comes through DVD boxsets and iplayer content, in infrequent doses (one/two hours per day).

I make a point of reading (if I must) only one novel of 400 pages(+) per month. The rest should be between 200-400 pages, and ideally I will read a few shorter books to buffer the heavier material. This means I get through about three/four books per week on average, two when the fat novels are out.

The amount of books we read in our lifetime is teensy compared to the amount printed per month. I wager we read less books in our lifetime than are printed per month. This fact fills me with dread, despair and a mad craving to lock myself in a cellar and read until I turn into soup.

Discovering a new author only leads to another, and while we work through one back catalogue, a new face jockeys for position atop the reading list. I hardly read anything modern: I’m still working through the ‘60s postmodernists. I get a toogle of excitement when I discover a writer I love has a huge back catalogue. On the other hand, I quite like authors who die young. This means I can get through their works quicker.

I think my reading falls into two categories: professional and pleasurable. The former consists of books from my MA Course’s library – books sympathetic to my own leanings as a writer. The latter are authors who I know will tingle my pleasure receptors. When the two categories blend, usually this means I have found a very special author indeed.

So that’s all very good. I’m sure you will agree the above five paragraphs constitute a satisfactory blog post. I think I will conclude on a positive note by saying the whopping range of choice available should be appreciated for as long as one has functioning eyeballs. In other words, stop reading this and get to the library, pronto. Then leave the library when they don’t have the book you want and sulk. Sulk the day away, friends. Sulk sluk slurgh.


  1. Okay, now I'm depressed, because I bet you're right... more books printed in a month than I will read in my life... Wait a minute... but do you mean BOOKS, or BOOKS... you know... like if they print 50,000 copies of something, do you count it once, or 50,000 times? Because if it's only ONCE, then I bet I could read that many over my lifetime... but if it's 50,000, no freaking way... You read a lot more books than I do... I read maybe 3-5 a month.

  2. This was a most statistically adept and informative post. Now I know how you read. Personally I never read anything that doesn't have a "Reader's Digest Select Edition" stamp on it, and even then I only read the odd-numbered pages that start with an S. So I read about 176 000 books per week.

  3. Hart: I meant the amount of new releases per month. The number you are thinking of is surely beyond a googleplex.

    CC: Tish. Nonsense! Smoked Hamlet and a hard-boiled Dave Eggers sounds like a delicous literary repast to me.

    I should do another post about styles of reading. I'm not much of a close reader, for reasons that are obvious (too time-consuming. Hang on, if they're obvious, why did I just say that? Doh!).

  4. Try Shakespeare. He's great for exercising the brain.

  5. ^^ Indeed. I prefer to watch Shakespeare than read him.

  6. I am always counting the unread books that are loitering on the sidelines and lamenting the impossibility of reading even a fraction of them. Unlike you, I am the slowest reader ever. I have to read every line at the same pace I would speak it. And then I read the line over and over again, tasting it and savouring it like a bon-bon. At once delicious and exhausting.