Monday, October 18, 2010

People who read a lot.

A friend told me the other day that she had met someone new and that I would like him for the same reasons she did: the type of music he likes, he's well educated and very intelligent, and he reads a lot. Until this particular conversation, I never would have thought this friend would say she, 'reads a lot', and it got me thinking.

Some quick--and very unscientific--internet research tells me the average American reads between three and seven books a year. Furthermore, the reality of an American "reading a book" means reading seventy pages in and putting it down for good. I don't think I read a lot but my goal for this year is fifty books. (I'm sitting on forty-two.) This friend is the same who has three copies of books I'd recommend, all of which have been untouched to the best of my knowledge.

I have no clue what it means to 'read a lot' perhaps this guy in question does. Does it mean more than the national average assuming such a number can be pinned down? I'm pretty sure such a definition doesn't matter. I'm also sure my friend (she doesn't read my blog so I can talk about her) does not 'read a lot' by any definition.

What does it mean to 'read a lot' to you and why do you think it enhances one's character to be able to make the claim?


Maria said...

I think reading ~50 books a year does count as reading a lot. I think my rough definition for reads a lot would be reads more than one book a month. Just because I know way too many people who read 1-2 books per year, so I guess I have low standards.

I don't think there's any character enhancement in reading a lot all of itself. However, many readers like to talk about books they read and the only people who would listen to this for any significant period of time are usually the ones who read themselves. Hence, I may consider it a good character trait in a friend since then I can discuss books with them. I would certainly consider that in the "pro" column for me. Having said that, I have plenty of friends who read very little and I don't like them any less for that (even if I do try to force-lend them a book or two every so often).

Chad Hull said...

I'm cracking up at the term, "force-lend" (does it ever work for you?). As you say, it's definitely not a deal breaker in my friends list.

Marion said...

Fifty books is darned close to one book a week--I think that's reading a lot. I probably read about 100 books in a year. I don't think it's character enahncing particularly, but I find a learn a lot when I read.

Chad Hull said...

Marion, the 100+ crowd amazes me.

Marion said...

Imagine how many Terry must read in a year.

Terry Weyna said...

Actually, Marion, I read a lot less than I wish I did. I've read 89 books so far this year, which puts me about 10 books behind my goal of 120 books for the year, or 10 each month. (Yes, I keep a list. I am a nerd; what did you expect?)

I often don't feel like that's a lot, because the list of what I haven't read is so enormous. It seems like other reviewers have read much more widely. I've finally figured out, though, that they are often just faking it -- they read reviews and skim books and are able to talk about them somewhat knowledgeably. It's not that they necessarily claim they've read the books, but they sound like they've read the books.

There's one blogger out there -- Larry Nolan, at OF Blog of the Fallen -- who reads more than anyone I've ever known. As of mid-October, he'd read 350 books, in multiple languages. I couldn't -- and actually, wouldn't even want to -- read the way he does -- at speed. I like to relish what I read. So while I read a lot of books in a single year, I usually read them relatively slowly (about a page a minute). It's just that I spend a lot of time reading!

Chad Hull said...

You are not alone in your nerdy-ness... I keep a list too.