A Day in the Reading Life

I mentioned on Facebook this morning that I’ve read 199 books this year, and I’m hoping to finish one more to set me at 200. Mary asked how I possibly fit that many books into my regular life; if I had super magical reading powers, or if I’m just a super fast reader.

I do think I’m a pretty fast reader. I remember at about 10 reading a novel on the couch and my mom reading over my shoulder and her later commenting that I was turning the pages before she finished. I definitely read faster than Bart, who won’t let me read over his shoulder because it makes him nervous. I just now took a reading speed test online (who knows how accurate or correct it is), and it said I read about 522 words a minute (with sufficient comprehension) while the average reader does more like 200 words a minute.

Here is basically how I get so much reading done:

I listen to books on CD in the car. I listened to 46 books on CD this year (some I started in book form and finished on audio or switched back and forth between the two). I commute about 40 minutes each way to work, so I can get through more than a CD a day (since each CD is about 60-70 minutes long) and it’s amazing how much time you spend just running errands.

I listen to books on my iPod. I’ll download the CDs from the library to iTunes, upload them to my iPod and listen to them while I’m at the gym or cooking or folding laundry. I don’t do as much of this as I could because it can be a bit of effort to actually get them onto the iPod. I’ll try and be better about this next year.

I read during my lunch break. This was when I really started reading again in 2007. I had a 30 minute lunch break every day and I read almost every day straight through it (except for the days when I took a nap. Oh glorious sleep on the corner of the conference room floor). Now I have an hour lunch break and I try to read for most of it. You can really make some progress with just that much time a day.

What really puts my numbers high, though, I think, is when I have a weekend or day of concentrated reading. When we had the snow day a week or  so ago, I read four books in about 24 hours. When I went to Utah for my Dad’s birthday in October, I read five books on the airplane. One Saturday this spring, I finished five books in one day.

I also keep a LOT of books around from the library so that I have plenty to choose from. Sometimes, if there is only one book there and it’s not one you’re interested in, you’ll just not read. I want to always have something that piques my interest. If I have five books going at one time, that doesn’t bother me at all. If I’m really enjoying something, it’s much easier to make time to read it, than if it’s something you’re slogging through.

Any other great ideas of how to fit reading in?

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  1. Could I be the first one to comment? Holy mackerel!

    I love all of your ideas. I think I should do more of the iPod thing this coming year. I tend to squeeze in my reading time whenever I can! A few of my current (crazy life) favorites are at the gym on the elliptical or after the kiddos go to bed. I always hear that you should exercise to the point where you can't read or whatever. I don't buy it. And I cherish that time. Then again, this may be where using my iPod more comes into play…


  2. I always have a huge pile of library books too. Like you, I read on my lunch break and also my commute- I am on the metro for about twenty minutes each way, which doesn't seem like much, but as a fast reader, I can get through a chapter or two, I think.

    I need to keep better track of the books I read. My mother, the librarian, has this folder where she lists every book she's read. It's a sheet of paper where she lists the title, author, genre, date begun and finished and then how many stars it gets (out of five). It's amazing, because she has these lists going back to around 1992!

  3. Wow, that's some intense reading!!! Congrats on reading 200 books whereas I didn't even manage to read 100 and I feel that I read quite a lot. I'm very busy though, on top of my full time job I also wrote two dissertations and translated a book so reading was a bit neglected sometimes. 🙁 Hoping to step up my game and read at least 100 in 2010!

    Anyway, I really think of any more ways to fit it more reading, I think you've pretty much named them all! 🙂 And wow, four books in a day?! That's a lot, the most I've read is a book a day, even when I was reading for hoooours so you must be a speedy reader. 🙂

  4. I read at stop lights. Should I admit this? I keep the book in my right hand, open to my page, with my hand on the gear shift between the seats. When I stop at the light I quickly figure out what will be the last direction the traffric will flow before it's my turn to drive again, so that I do not get a friendly honk from the car behind me when the light turns green. Red lights are unusually long in our city, so I get in a good 3 minutes of reading at most of them. This translates into many pages read while running errands.

    I can't keep more than 1 or 2 books going at once. I lose interest in all them if I do. Maybe the multiple plots water each other down.

  5. Dang lady! I consider myself a fairly speedy reader but I'm pretty sure you would be doing laps around me.

    I need to figure out how to put books on my iPod. I've listened to a few on CD but it would be easier to use the iPod.

  6. I think one of my goals for 2010 will be more books on cd. I spend a lot of time cooking and cleaning and it goes so much faster if I'm listening to a book. Plus, I'll likely spend a lot of time just..sitting (feeding a new baby and all) and that's a good time for listening as well.

    You totally wasted me in book numbers, my friend.

  7. I'm a "pick it up and read until I'm finished" person. If I put the book down, chances are I'll never finish it. Also, I'm a people watcher. I don't like to read in public places.

  8. Have you thought about a Kindle. I bought one last spring. You can download audio books and listen to them on the kindle also. I read and also listen to books on the Kindle. Of course I don't read as much as you do, but I do find that I have read more books this year than ever before.
    Audible.com you can even earn extra points and get a free download for each free point you earn. I used to buy books on CD but now just download them on Audible it is cheaper.
    Love to check your blog every day.

  9. And, it has to be said, dearest Janssen, you read very SHORT books. 🙂 I'd love to see you tackle a few meaty classics next year (ahem, Steinbeck or Dostevsky) and maybe some biographies . . .

    I'm just sayin'.

  10. Congrats on the 200 books this year! I've never tried the iPod idea or listening to books while driving…I might give it a chance though. My husband gave me a Kindle as an early Christmas present and I LOVE IT! I've read more in the last few weeks than I have in the entire year. I love how it syncs with the Kindle app on my iPhone as well, so just in case I left my Kindle at home (rarely happens) I can pick up my book where I left off on my iPhone.

  11. I've started to use my drive time to listen to audio books as well. 200 is an incredible amount to have read in a year!! Wow!

  12. Sorry for the snark. I underestimated your average book length. I want to publicly stand corrected. 😉 Happy reading.

  13. Your plan seems very similar to mine! I've had to explain my reading habits to many people, even though it seems intuitive to me.

    These days, I read while I'm walking down the streets, which is probably dangerous. And I used to keep books in certain places in the house for certain times of day (a book to read with breakfast, one for the gym, one for lunch et cetera) but now my apartment is so small that would be silly.

    Congrats on 200!

  14. I had this great comment all written that was witty and congratulatory and blah blah blah…and it's lost, and I don't have the energy to re-write. In summation: you're amazing and I need to figure out how to put books onto my iPod.


  15. I tweeted about not hitting 200 and got some quick read ideas, and then found out just now I don't have to work tomorrow (!!!) so I'm going to hit 200 too.

    One of the things I do is read whenever the TV is on. I can read and listen to the show. On days off, like you, I can breeze through a couple books.

  16. I'm just going to put this out there: bathroom reading. Whether it's in the bathtub or while, um, otherwise occupied, one can get a lot of reading in.

    I used to read a lot for fun, but my grad school classes kind of started to take the fun out of it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the dissertation phase will bring more opportunities to read what I want–even if it is academic.

    Congrats! Not only on being such a voracious reader, but also on keeping track of it! I am totally impressed.

  17. I'm a fast reader, too! I read e last Harry Potter book (and comprehended it) in 8 hours. I LOVE to read. I also find it's pretty easy to read while on treadmill walking or if you're taking a bath. Multitasking is awesome.

  18. Wow, that was a quick response! I feel special. 🙂 I love, love, love all of your ideas! I need to get into the books on cd thing more. I don't follow a book as well (I'm a visual learner) when they are on cd, but I get the gist of the story. I also think I'll start having more books I really want to read on hand. I have lots of books around my house, but if I start it and it doesn't catch my interest then I don't read anything. Time for a library trip. Thanks for the advice! You're an inspiration!

  19. Holy cow. Wow. I thought I read pretty fast. But I can only read fast when I am not distracted or else I only pick up about half of what I read. Plus, I am not that fast. Did I mention, wow?

  20. Very impressive! How many hours do you sleep? That's my problem, I require too much sleep, usually right when I get to the good part of the book.

  21. Hi! Came over here from Brianna (One Crafty Librarian)'s blog.

    Anyway, wow. I'm a fast reader (just finished both Tori Spelling books within 3 days) but 199 books? I'm impressed!

    Do you ever watch TV or anything? 🙂

  22. Ben reads books on his iPhone ON THE WAY to the bathroom.

    I, for one, am particular fond of leaving a few books in the bathroom. ~blush~

  23. Wow! You lapped me, and then almost did it again in 2009, and I read more than almost anyone I know.

    My tricks are simple. I carry the book with me wherever I go. It's my always-changing transitional object. I never know when I'll be stuck in a preschool carpool line or at a doctor's office or something. I should listen to books on my iPod, I'm not smart enough to figure out how to download them, so I listen to podcasts on my iPod. I could probably bump up my reading pretty significantly if I got books in instead. I can't read on the treadmill– it makes me carsick!

    I read myself to sleep every night. My husband has to turn the light off for me, and he's even gotten pretty good at keeping my place for me.

    I also read in the bathroom. Jerry Seinfeld would not approve, but I've always been more of a George Costanza.

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