25 September 2013

How Long to Read a Book?

I wrote a blog post some while ago outlining the length of time it took me to write a book. At the weekend I read this post on whether books should tell us how long it will take to read them.

Even before reading the article my first thought was how would we determine how long it would take someone to read a book? We all read at different speeds, and the speed I read at also varies depending on a number of things including: 

  • Whether the book is fiction or non-fiction
  • If non-fiction, am I learning how to do something new
  • Style of writing
  • How interested I am in the story (fiction)
  • Beauty of prose

Being able to speed read depends on how well the book, report or article has been written and laid out.

If it’s well laid out non-fiction I should be able to skim through the table of contents and/or section headings to find the specific parts that I need without actually having to read the entire book. The same should apply to a report or article.

What about the style of writing? Is it very dense academic writing or a pop-science read that is enjoyable as well as informative? This will make a vast difference on the length of time it takes me to read. It will also affect the length of time I’m able to stay awake while reading!

If reading a thriller or mystery novel, I would expect to be taken on a wild ride that doesn’t include a lot of heavy prose, but if I’m reading a more literary type novel I often like to re-read paragraphs just to enjoy the sound and flow of the prose. I may read parts of a short story several times as there are often layers of meaning that take time to see.

Non-fiction reading is often done for a reason and therefore I may have a time limit. I might be reading to understand information that I need to turn into training material. If I’m reading fiction then I’m reading for pleasure, and to me turning that into a timed exercise negates the enjoyment. I don't care how long it takes me to read the book as long as I’ve enjoyed the journey.

What do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment