Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How Long Does It Take You to Read a Novel?

Today I finished reading Louise Erdrich's excellent novel Love Medicine. I'm ashamed to admit that I started reading it more than a month ago.

Let me be clear, I didn't read it slowly because I wasn't enjoying it. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Every time I picked the book up I would spend an hour or so reading and sometimes even re-reading the passages. It was a book that I knew I could learn from - Erdrich is a master storyteller (as cliche as it sounds to say that, it's true) and I often find myself trying to analyze what she does in her stories that make them so memorable to me.

Here's the problem though: some days I don't have an hour. Last month got crazy and there were two weeks were I literally felt like I lived at my day job. I didn't have a lot of time to relax with a book.

I keep a list of all the books that I read and try to make note of how long each book takes me to get through and how much I enjoyed it. Looking over the list that I've been keeping since 2005, I'm really not convinced that there's any correlation.

Supposedly if you enjoy a book it should be quicker to read than if you're not enjoying it. I don't really think that's the case, at least not for me. Why? Because life is always going on around you.

As much as I love reading and writing, none of us can live life with our nose stuck in a book. In 2005 it took me any where from 4 hours to 3 months to finish reading a book. I was in high school, but I still managed to read for fun. In 2010 I didn't finish anything in less than a week, but I was also in my last year of college. In 2011, by contrast, I finished most of the books that I read in a handful of days, as I didn't have a whole lot else to do. This year, it's been a mixed bag. Some books only took a few days to read, some took more than a month.

Maybe I'm the only one who pays this close attention to these things, but maybe I'm not. Tell me about your experience? How long does it take you to read a book? Do novels take more or less time than non-fiction books? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

1 comment:

  1. It takes me quite a while to finish reading a novel, often 3 or more weeks, if I am not rotation reading. If I am reading many books at once, it could take months or [Gasp] years. I notice that if I read a book away from home (during public commute, in the school cafeteria, etc.) I can focus on it and get through it relatively quickly. If I read at home with the distraction of electronic media and other books, magazines, comic books begging to be rotation read, ooo! I have serious focus problems and experience difficulty finishing a book.