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

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.)

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).