Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Lifetime of Books

Mental Floss posted an article on Monday predicting how many books a person can read in a lifetime. It's actually a series of tables taking into account a person's gender, age, and reading habits. An average person reads twelve books a year, while a super reader tops out the Mental Floss scale at 80 books per year. That level sounds low to me these days. Since eBooks are so much more accessible and portable than paper books, I've been able to squeeze in more reading time since getting my first Kindle in 2010 or so. I joined Goodreads in 2012 or so and started tracking my books then. Since 2013, I've averaged about 200 books a year, as you can see if you check out my annual reading challenges on Goodreads. (My official goal is lower this year, but I'm currently on pace to reach 200 books again.)

I'm not sure how many books I read every year prior to joining Goodreads. There were times in my life where I had a lot of time to read (one college break, I read four books in a twelve-hour marathon), and times where I was busier with other things. To be conservative, let's say I averaged about 50 books a year prior to Goodreads. I started reading at age three, so I read about 1,900 books before joining Goodreads. In less than six years, I've read 1,067 books, which is more than half of what I read in the previous 38 years! Talk about a change in reading habits! If I continue to read 200 books a year for the next 40 years, I'll add another 8,000 to that. Ten thousand books in a lifetime sounds pretty good to me.

The point of the Mental Floss article was to say reading time is short, so you should only read books you enjoy. While that's good advice, I also think you should read a variety of books to make the most of your reading experience. (While my fiction reading is mostly SF/fantasy these days, I read more widely when I was younger.) Measure your life by books instead of years, and you'll experience more lives than you can live on your own.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Only read books you enjoy - I agree. Why read something you aren't enjoying? Unless you just want to give it a bad review in the end...
I read a lot more when younger. Then I slacked off. Then I got an iPad and started reading a lot more. Now I'm really busy with stuff and have slowed down again. I'm still really impressed that you read so many books in a year.

Sandra Almazan said...

Thanks, Alex! I read while I work out, so that's about 30 minutes of reading a day right there. I also read while I eat, sometimes when I cook, when my husband is driving us somewhere...I basically devote any spare minute I can to reading.

Pat Dilloway said...

Reading books you enjoy is nice but some of the most important books are not really enjoyable. It's like telling people to only watch Adam Sandler movies.

Maria Zannini said...

re: Measure your life by books instead of years, and you'll experience more lives than you can live on your own.

That's a pretty powerful statement in itself.

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