Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Book a Week Secret

Chris, writing in a comment recently, asked how I manage to read a book a week. It’s a question I get sometimes via e-mail and also from friends. The answer is extremely simple: I almost never watch TV. I say this with no judgment implied, just as someone might say “I don’t play golf” (I don’t do that either). Even watching just a few shows each evening can add up to an hour or more. If you are looking for ways to increase your reading time, think about whether you watch any mindless TV in the evening, and whether you could be reading then instead.

Plenty of people read more than I do. Sam Houston, at Book Chase, has read over 100 books so far this year. I know that Zia, at Nom de Plume, read about 100 books last year. Maybe they'll weigh in on this subject also. (You can find links to both these blogs on my sidebar.)


Anonymous said...

My goal right now is to review three books a week. Hoping for more, but not going to whip myself if I end up with less. I can read up to a book a day, but sometimes it can take me up to two weeks if the book is slow, I'm busy, and I'm distracted---although it hasn't taken me that long in quite a while.

Sam said...

Becky, I agree with you that the real secret is not to spend too many hours watching television. Whole evenings can disappear in a flash that way. Luckily, even when I flip through the channels I seldom feel compelled to stop long enough to watch anything on a regular basis.

The other key for me is to read the books and authors that I really enjoy. I've found that if I'm not enjoying the book I'm reading that it takes forever to finish. It's just not worth the effort, especially when I realize that I could be reading something that will fly by because I'm having so much fun with it.

Becky Holmes said...

Heather, take advice from Sam who says to read the books you enjoy. If a book takes two weeks to read, and you find that you are distracted, I think that's a sign you don't really like the book. It would be for me, anyway.

Becky Holmes said...

Sam, yes, the key is to read the books you like. I think a lot of people get hung up trying to read what they think they ought to read. They struggle through something, and it takes a long time, and then they wonder how other people can read so fast. I've been in that situation before. I liked your post about Nancy Pearl, and her quote that you used: A bad book," she explains, "is any book you don't like. A good book is any book you like." I think this sums it up completely for me.

Anonymous said...

Aye, that's why I haven't had that trouble in a while---I stopped accepting review books I wasn't entirely interested in. ;)

Although part of the reason for two-week times in my case is distraction/restlessness, and that's based in ADD/PTSD, not whether I like the book.

Anonymous said...

I too never watch TV. I read a book a week by reading on the train on the way to and from work, at night before I fall asleep, and snatched 15-minute intervals at weekends (eg watching my daughter's ice skating lesson).

In the holidays, when I was away from work and domestic tasks, I was up to a book a day. Wonderful. I had such a stack of books I was dying to read, and I definitey agree that the key is to know your taste and have lots of opportunistic piles of books around just waiting for those "available moments".

Anonymous said...

PS I do know how to spell definitely. Just not how to type!

Kathleen said...

Other people also have to realize that some books are 100 pages while some are 600. You could read 100 books to my 50 but we may have read the same number of pages.

I average about 10 books a month, more if I read little books. I prefer reading to watching TV.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that reading a ton is as laudatory as it sounds. Like Becky, I don't watch TV--though we do use my laptop to watch movies--but I really think a lot of my reading is as escapist as zoning out in front of the TV for three or four hours at a time.

I don't have problems finding time to read; I do, however, find it a challenge to keep up with blogging about what I'm reading. I've slacked off woefully.

I definitely agree, though, to read things you enjoy. An ex who wanted to read more once decided that the only things worth reading were the classics--so spent 6 months toting around some huge Faulker tome, and spent six months not reading at all.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Becky--

Your secret is my secret. I don't watch much TV either -- in fact, virtually none, other than the occasional episode of "The Office" or "House," and that just to spend time with my kids who are watching it.

But I do love movies and see as many of them as I can. And plays. Ahh, I'm taking my son to a production of Martin McDonagh's "Lonesome West" on Sunday. I do love stories, in all forms, but they really have to be well-told. Very little on TV achieves that, in my humble opinion.

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