The topline is that in those 8 years I have read a paltry 48 books, or 6 per year on average. The rate varies between 1 book in 2012 (when I split up with Mr Bonkers and moved house) to 12 in 2015, for reasons that are not immediately apparent.
I posted this alarming statistic on Facebook, and two friends replied, one of whom has a speed reading rate that would blow me out of the water!
"56 pages an hour is my average rate. 12 hours a week is also a good average. 100 books a year allowing for 336 pages per book."
I love the precision of '336 pages'...that figure didn't come out of nowhere either, I sense, ditto '56 pages an hour'. I don't know for sure, but have a feeling my hourly rate might be nearer 20 pages. Plus there is the whole issue of print size and line height. I own some books which I think I might fancy reading, but as soon as I open them and see how densely covered in tiny type the pages are, I promptly shut them again, however engrossing they might otherwise be!
|I don't watch much TV - or DVDs - either!|
Another friend, who is a short story writer, posted:
"31 so far this year for me, thanks to having joined the FB group Read 100 books in 2017. Unlikely I'll manage the full 100, though."
So whilst not as voracious a bookworm as the first friend, she is still managing to read my annual average in a month, near as dammit.
I scratched my head for a while, puzzling at the massive disparity between these friends' reading rates and my own, before it dawned on me that blogging throughout that period will have accounted for a fair chunk of time...probably something of the order of 3,500 hours at a guess, which equates to two years in 'working week' terms, assuming no holiday allowance. But that still leaves the other six, haha, so further factors must also be at work.
For example, I recently discovered that I suffer from dry eye syndrome, and I do definitely struggle more with my eyesight for close work, despite having been told my prescription hasn't really changed in recent years. I don't own a pair of reading glasses as such, mind, and could probably do with one. For now, I am using an old pair of distance glasses from 15 years ago, which are not a bad substitute! And there was also the trouble with my old bath, which never seemed to keep the water hot for more than about five minutes, an ambient temperature not exactly conducing to a 'wallow and read' habit.
Then just this morning, it occurred to me to see if I had kept any records prior to 2008, and sure enough I had...all the way back to 2002 in fact. I got the idea off my late mother, about the meaning of whose system of ticks and crosses we can but speculate. She also noted where she got the tip off from to read a particular book, which ranges from The Times, to the 'S.T' - which I am going to assume is The Sunday Times - to The Oldie and The Spectator - plus occasional mentions of me!
|Mother's book diary|
And the upshot of my analysis of my own previous book diary is as revealing as it is concerning. In the 7 years between 2002 and 2008 I read 157 books(!), equating to 22.5 a year, versus my 6 a year nowadays. That is almost four times as many. And I was working A LOT more than I do today. I could imagine I got through a good few books on my trips away, in the absence of any human interaction. And also on those kind of beach-y holidays I don't take anymore.
So that is all rather sobering to put it mildly. Ironically, the fact that I read so little - I don't even take a newspaper now, which used to occupy entire weekends back in the day - doesn't seem to stop me buying books. ;) Why, only yesterday I bagged four for just over a fiver in Oxfam: two first editions, a Helen Dunmore that was new to me (in honour of her recent demise), and a Louise Doughty (on the premise that anything written by the author of the incomparable Apple Tree Yard simply had to be worth a punt!).
This compulsion to buy books is a trait I inherited from my father. At his death, he was virtually entombed by books in his tiny flat: they were piled high in the middle of the living room like the footings of an unfinished building, and the floor to ceiling bookcases in every room were double or triple stacked. There were books under the bed and in the bathroom, and none of the doors opened more than a crack because of a book-related obstruction lurking immediately behind. His library ended up filling 140 large cardboard removal boxes, which are in my brother's attic, still largely waiting to be sorted and sold, and are one of the subjects of this post from last September.
So yes, I am my father's daughter, and have tsundokus dotted all over the house, even if none of the gangways are impeded as such. ;) I regularly break them up into smaller piles so as not to frighten the horses, but the house is silting up with unread books all the same. I tell myself I will read them when I am retired, even though the government keeps moving the glimmering mirage of the state pension further off into the far distance. Hey, I have so little work at the moment that I am semi-retired already. Make that three quarters-retired even! And still I don't read.
No, I think the reason for my woeful book reading rate is partly the blogging, for sure, but it will also have a lot to do with social media and my propensity to fritter away time, and make a meal - and heavy weather! - of the simplest of chores. I have taken time wasting to the rarefied level of an Olympian sport. They say that mothers of new borns are the most productive people of all, getting more done in the odd 15 minutes they can snatch while the baby is napping than people like me achieve in a week.
And to make matters worse, I joined Instagram last week! I agree that the steady procession of arty photos people post on there is pleasingly restful, but I still prefer the verbal cut and thrust of Facebook, and I could never ever reconcile myself to that annoying thicket of hashtags. So I may not be on there for long...
I would be really interested to know what your reading rates are like, and whether they have changed lately.
If so, what do you put that down to?
|Some of these are admittedly hotel guides and dictionaries|
Me, I am off to start 'The Trouble With Goats and Sheep', by Joanna Cannon, which was a birthday present from my friend Gillie. In a surprise turn of events, Joanna is helping out at her Alzheimer's choir group. I don't know what has brought her to Stafford.
Now I would lie in the sun for a bit, but I have 100 chemical and cosmetic allergens taped to my back, and the nurse was most insistent that I 'stay cool!'. Hopefully this will confirm the source of my eyelid eczema and may well prompt a further post on the matter.