Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks
Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks
Illustration for article titled Whats Your Reading Speed?

How fast do you read books? Does it vary depending on the size or type of book (i.e., genre, fiction vs. nonfiction)?

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Generally I find that the shorter the novel, the faster I try to read it. Last week, for example, I bought two new novels, Clive Barker’s Scarlet Gospels and Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves. I raced through the Barker over a couple of nights — it’s around 350 pages, but many of the chapters are short, so realistically it’s probably only around 300 pages or so. I started the Stephenson Friday afternoon with the goal of finishing it or reading most of it by Memorial Day, but I’m only about halfway through. Granted, it’s longer — almost 900 pages — and far more complex than Barker’s book, which is a pretty straightforward urban fantasy/horror story in most respects. But regardless of the subject matter, I find that I take a pretty leisurely approach to reading long (as in over 400 pages) novels.

I’m even more leisurely when it comes to nonfiction books, which I find are easier to read “in parallel” with other things than fiction. I cannot read novels simultaneously; once I start something I’m either going to finish it or dump it, but I won’t start reading another novel if I’m in the middle of something else. But I can read nonfiction books like biographies or histories in any order, and can stop reading them and pick them up again after a gap of weeks, months, or even years. Maybe that’s because it’s easier to get caught up with “real” stuff than fiction. (Another thing about me and nonfiction: I can read it in just about any context, whereas with fiction I have to be in exactly the right state of mind to get into the story.)

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Finally, how many books do you read in a given year? I seem to average around 50-60, though it seems like I read less than I used to (and not the kinds of stuff I should be reading).

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