I’m sure by now you have heard the sobering news that one in four Americans did not read a single book last year. 25%. Two and a half out of ten. Two bits. The proportion represented by 15 minutes on a clock. You get the idea.
Meanwhile, the typical person read four books. But as we all know from the comments section, the people who read this blog are far from typical.
So you tell me: how many books did you read last year?
In keeping with my recent tradition of asking You Tell Me questions I can’t answer myself, I read… uh… maybe 50? I’m not really sure. The thing is, it’s hard to estimate because while I spend a good portion of every day reading, I spend most of my time reading partial manuscripts and proposals, and I can’t really count those. So I’ll say 50 to be safe. A good round number.
What about you?
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Loquacious Me says
I couldn’t even begin to count how many books I read in the last year. I never even thought of keeping track!
I do know that I’ve read five in the last six days, however.
Church Lady, I’m not sure if you’re meaning to parody a moralistic “Church Lady” kind of tone, or if you’re serious, and thus missed my point.
I read a lot of books. I love reading books. However, counting the number of books I’ve read in the last year, to me, is a little like counting the number of smiles I’ve had in the last year, or counting the number of ice cubes I’ve had in the last year. I don’t know. I smile when I feel like smiling, I put ice cubes in my drink when I want it cold, and I read books when I want something to read. To count them is to suggest that there’s a correct number I should have, and I don’t believe that. The right number of books for you to read is the number you want to read.
I don’t read books to “win” anything. I don’t think people who read books are morally superior to people who don’t. If reading books is enjoyable, then the enjoyment of reading a book is enough reward.
36. A bunch of YA, some literary fiction, a few non-fiction.
vernieda, I LOVE your word “dorktastic”! I’m sure I can apply that in my life…. 🙂
last year was around 50, not counting the many books I re-read. This year I am up to 53 so far (see my blog sidebar).
as far as buying, I am a compulsive book buyer, so I have probably bought at least 50 books this year, maybe more like 70 (mostly not the same ones that I have read).
I hardly ever read magazines though. I think that I would read much less fewer books if I read magazines.
Bryan D. Catherman says
For or five a month, so probably between 40 and 60.
This news pisses me off.
Between Aug, 2003 and April 2004, I read 36 books. This was a time I was working 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, fighting a war in Iraq. I kept a book in my cargo pocket and read every time I was standing in a line or waiting for something. Telephone or internet line; food line; shower line. Waiting for convoy’s to start or when Blackhawks were late. Waiting for on officer to get his head out of his ass. You get the idea.
If this overworked Staff Sergeant could read 36 books in six months in Iraq (only while standing in a line), you’d think the typical America could pull off at least one book in a year!
I’d guess about 20 novels in a year, but my reading pace swings wildly. I’ll either finish a book in a couple of days or it will take a month.
There’s also The New Yorker, which has its own pile next to the bed, right next to the growing pile of books-in-waiting. I probably spend more time trying to keep up with the New Yorker pile than I do reading novels.
I also read a lot of bird and nature books for both recreational and research purposes. That’s never cover-to-cover reading, so I wouldn’t even know how to count it.
Treasures Antique Store says
As the owner of a review site I average 2-3 books (and these are books, not 30-40 page novellas) a week. I cannot imagine not reading for at least a bit of each day.
Last year? Hm . . . probably about 70 fiction (mostly sf/f) and 50 or so non-fiction (everything from the house of Medici to the physics of birds). I seem on track for about the same, this year.
in 2006 I read 23 books.
In 2007 so far I’ve read 15 books.
According to my lists I read 77 last year and 70 (so far) this year.
Somewhere between 60 and 80, I’d say. And I buy every one of them, so don’t tell me I’m not helping out the industry! 😛 In fact, I just got a notice from Barnes and Noble saying that my membership which gives me 10% off saved me 136 DOLLARS this past year! That is a LOT of books. Or at least a lot of lattes. 😀
Heidi the Hick says
What a great comments trail!
In case anybody cares, speaking of the debate over keeping track of how many books we read, I don’t see the harm in it. It’s interesting. It’s not meant to be competitive. (at least I hope it isn’t.)
I started keeping track because I wanted to look back on what I’d actually read this year. Being an aspiring novelist, I need to read.
I read for so many reasons- education, time passing, fun, escape, and pure imaginative pleasure.
I read books, magazines, blogs, newspapers and cereal boxes. When I had two small children, I didn’t read at all. I couldn’t hear myself think. My husband doesn’t read much because he works about 14-16 hours a day. (the last book he read was mine; before that it was THE DIRT by Motley Crue!) Rather than focus on the 25 % who don’t read, I’d like to think of the 75% who do!
And let me set it straight- yeah I may need to clean my house but…anybody can do that. Not everybody can write the book that I’m writing. Nobody can read for me and darnit I wanna ride a horse every now and then. I hunted down the stink in the kitchen and got rid of it and therefore I am entitled to a good read! So there! Ha!!!
Church Lady says
Hi Drew, I was just joking 😉 I love to parody the Church Lady. It’s what my blog is about. (partly. The other part is about writing)
And I actually quite agree with you, which is why I poked fun at the numbers. I don’t keep track of the number of books I read. But I’m always reading, and it’s for pleasure. So I guess if I said you limit your number of smiles to ice-cubes per glass, you’d know I was joking! heeheee
But the bottom line it’s great that so many people still enjoy a good book, given so many other distractions.
I read 2-3 books per week, so that would put me in at 100-150 books per year. That sounds like a lot; I should keep better track.
I feel truly sorry for people who read so few books. I can’t imagine what they do with their time, much less their brainpower. I would go mad without books.
Zen of Writing says
For some reason, I’ve also been keeping track this year: 53 so far. I didn’t count last year, but it wasn’t as many. Writing them down makes me read faster, I think.
Zen of Writing says
Oh – mostly novels. I’m on The Charterhouse of Parma now, with Suite Francaise lined up.
Who has time to keep track?
That said, judging by the stacks of read and rejected (sold to Powell’s), and read and kept, I’m up around 100 or so this year. Slowing down a bit since I got a demanding day job (special ed teacher) and went back to writing.
I read a lot less when getting my master’s degree, though. Read a lot more when I was a stay-at-home mom.
And then there was the time when I was a first reader for the Endeavour award–and was the reliable backup reader. That meant I was cruising through about 40 some books for that award alone–but I doubt anyone would count stuff like that in a count, as it’s work reading, of a sort.
(Dang, going back to work cuts into the blogging time! You folks have been *chatty* this week!)
A Paperback Writer says
I didn’t keep track last year. This year, since January, I’ve read 89. They range from YA to classics to biographies to heavy-duty literary criticism.
New here, thanks for the interesting blog, Nathan. I’ve read 30 1/2 since I started keeping track on librarything.com in May. The half was half of Stephen King’s “The Stand.” Couldn’t finish that one.
I read at least 3 per week, usually more. Therefore, I hit at least 150 books per year. However, I continuously re-read the works of Rex Stout so I estimate that I read maybe 50 new books per year.
Anne Dayton says
Thanks to a long subway ride twice a day, I get plenty of reading time. That’s pretty much the only time I read, since I’m busy writing when I’m not at work, and I’d say around 100 last year. God bless the NYC subway.
I’m in the ” ‘Drew” school.
I’m as likely to count the number of books I read as I would be to calculate how many times I breath.
original bran fan says
I am in awe of the people who read 2-3 books per week. I read very sloooowwwly. I can’t help it. I always have. I do read carefully, though, and am very likely to retain what I’ve read, even years later.
Those who can read quickly AND retain, well, I’m even more impressed!
I’ve never kept track before this year, but so far in 2007 I’ve read 23, which is probably lower than previous years…especially the grad school years, but those don’t really count. It’s hard to believe this statistic as so many people I know read, but then again – the majority of people I spend my time with are readers. I wouldn’t be surprised if my brother and his wife read less than four books a year.
I don’t know. When I was much younger I read about 1-2 books a day on average. Now I read about 2 a week or so. So I’ve probably read at least 50 this year so far if not more. That includes graphic novels but not individual comic books.
Rough guess, 50-100 books per year. Though it may have slowed down this year because I’ve been reading more books about writing, which go slower than fiction. I get most of my books from the library–apologies to all the other struggling writers in the world, but I just can’t afford to buy many.
Maybe I’ll start actually keeping track of what I read. It could be enlightening.
Average of one a week, I’d say, plus a few that I go through in a day or two.
Gary James says
I’m just waiting for the films.
Sophie W. says
I usually read five or six books at a time, and most of those I read over and over… So are we counting individual books or individual reads?
Individual books…I’d say around 35.
Individual reads…over 80.
John Elder Robison says
I buy 4-5 books on average each month, and now publishers send me even more.
I read at least 50-60 cover to cover, and I skim or become bored with two or three times that number.
Luckily I am a fast reader.
I read about 70-80 a year. This year is the first year I started keeping track. I’ve read 57 books so far in 2007, and if you include the ones I read aloud to my son (all middle-grade and YA stuff) the total goes up to 72.
In an average week I will read 2-3 fiction books and may dip into a similar number of non-fiction. i guess that means I’ll read 150+ books a year. I probably buy around 90% of the fiction books; the remainder, like around 70% the non-fiction,will be borrowed from any one of a collection of local libraries.
I guess that means I read too much then 😉
I read somewhere around 80 books last year, and I’ve almost reached 100 this year (Yes, I’m a dork for keeping track. What’s your point?_ A variety of things, mostly fantasy, some classics, non-fiction. I can’t help it, I love to read. I always makes me sad when people say they don’t like to read.
Julie Wright says
I read at least thirty books last year; this year I’ve already passed that (a lot of time in airports has helped).
I know you’re probably not checking this any more, since 2 days have gone by, but: 33 so far this year (the first year I’ve kept track since January 1). And four of those were Robert Jordan, so do I get extra credit for that? 🙂
I on average read two- three books a week. That would be about 100 books a year. Need to factor in those longer books.
I also work with people that ready alot too. But that just could be due to the fact I work at a library.
Nothing beats the thrill of being able to paw threw the new books and advance reader copies.
What are these people doing that they have no time to read?
Love your blog Nathan, gives hope for us wish to be published writers.
Last year 29, but I was in school full time. This year I’m up to 46 and it’s only September. I write them down in my day planner so when friends ask what books to read or I’m looking to buy a gift for another reader I can refresh my memory.
It’s tough to find time to read as the single father of an autistic child. I don’t watch television, which does help. Figure one bathroom book every three weeks. (Last one was The Lusiads). Add in all the books I started, and elected not to finish. A couple of those a month. Sprinkle in those I pick up, put down, and pick up again. One a month. Leaven the lot with the mindless bubblegum intended to turn my brain off. One a fortnight. Then there are the classics I always meant to get to. Another half-dozen. Finally, those books I see at the AIDS Thrift store at a dime to the dollar. Two of those each week, three quarters of the weeks in a year.
112 books. A dozen worth remembering.
Someone read 438 books last year? That’s more than 1 per day. OMG!
Alas, I only read 90, and a chunk of that was because I was in M.F.A. grad school.
But this year, I’ve already read 70, so grad school apparently isn’t any excuse.
Vinnie Sorce says
At least twenty-five or more. Once I finish a book I immediately pick up another from my shelf.
Angelle Trieste says
Last year: 58.
This year so far: 55.
It takes me longer to read nonfiction than fiction.