Monday, November 25, 2013

Of that and all the progress, more or less,

I keep spreadsheets on pretty much everything. I really do; airports I've flown to, states and provinces I've visited/flown into/driven in. And it occurred to me, looking at my spreadsheet I use to track my reading of this list, that perhaps it isn't all my fault I've been reading a little slower these past couple of years; this year in particular.

I say this, because I noticed today, the following chart:

Year                      Pages Read            Books               Average Pages/Book
2009                         911                         3                            303.67
2010                        7,503                     23                            325.22
2011                        7,233                     22                            328.77
2012                        4,904                     13                            377.23
2013                        3,606                       7                            515.14

Well obviously I've been reading longer books this year and to a lesser extent, in 2012. Of course that doesn't change the fact that I have indeed read fewer pages this year, but it does give me a reason for why I've read so few books this year.

Of course it isn't just that the more pages a book has, the longer it takes to read; that's obvious. But what I find is that the longer a book is, the slower my reading pace. A 250 page books usually takes about 7 days to read, but a 500 page book usually takes about 25 days. Thousand-pagers, 60+ days. I think the sheer size of some books often makes it feel as if you aren't making any progress, which can be quite deflating. This leads to my reading other (read: non-list), less intimidating books.

How much I'm enjoying a book doesn't seem to play a very big role in how fast I read something. The Sot-Weed Factor, at some 800 pages, still took me seven weeks to read, and I loved it from start to finish. Same goes for Gone With the Wind. But, that's also the case for Infinite Jest, which I despised.

On the flip side, Mrs. Dalloway (212 pages) didn't really take any longer to read than Lucky Jim (242 pages).

But again, these are just excuses as to why I haven't read more. Bottom line is, I need to be flipping more pages. My concern is that maybe the reason the books have become longer and longer is that I've left a lot of longer ones until the end, instead of distributing them more evenly amongst all 100 reads. That could be a problem.

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