Reading Challenges

December 5, 2011

Over at Should be Reading, the Musing Mondays meme asks, How many books do you read in a week? Month? Year? 

The question is deceptively simple because the answer not only factors in how much free time we dedicated readers devote to our books, it also leads to more questions regarding our reading materials--their level of difficulty and length, in particular.
Some bloggers I follow read exclusively in one genre or tend to favor the classics (which aren't so easy to categorize since they encompass such a broad range). If you're an eclectic reader like me, you know that reading a bit of fluff may take as little as one day to finish, while longer tomes demand more time, not just for their length, but for the reflection they might spark.  Last week, for example, I decided to read The Hunger Games trilogy  (I was pleasantly surprised, by the way, but more on that later) and finished within a matter of days. Recently, however, Charles Dickens' Bleak House took me three weeks to complete (and an enjoyable three weeks they were!), so as you can see, there's no consistent time line to follow in terms of how many books may or may not fly off my shelves in a year. I'm not suggesting that length is always equated with strong content, by the way, but this year tackling War and Peace meant that I needed not only time to soak up the story, but the historical background as well. There's much to digest in many of the chunky classics I've dusted off this year.

Speaking of this year, initially my goal was to read 100 books in 2011, inspired by many challenges I saw posted on Shelfari and other blogs. As the year draws to a close, I'm only clocking in at 55 books and I'll probably only read a few more before we ring in 2012. At first I felt disappointed, but then I realized, it doesn't really matter that I haven't met my number goal. What matters is that I've had a great year of deliciously wonderful reads--from classics like Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and The Castle of Otranto to discovering living authors like Mario Vargas Llosa and Jasper Fforde, it's been a wonderful year of reading. So on that note, I'll end by choosing quality over quantity! :-)


  1. You're so right that some books require more attention...not only due to length, but the depth of the material.

    I have tended toward a variety of books, which shows in my individual reading months which I track on one of my blogs.


  2. That really is all that matters, that you really enjoyed the books you read :)

    Here's mine:

  3. I totally agree, Lauren-Rain! Happy reading! :)

    Congratulations LIbrary Snake on reading so much this year! :)

  4. Time to read, enthusiasm, and quality of the author's writing are factors involved, but I have in pinch read 500 y pico books in a year.

  5. I find myself in total agreement, having set myself the '100 books' challenge this year. I realised quite a while ago that I probably wouldn't make it and tht it wasn't worth getting upset about. (although I think there is still a little bit of me that thinks "a book a day, I can manage that", but I keep it under control.
    It can start to spoil your enjoyment of 'difficult' books that take longer to read and can start to push very long books off your TBR pile.
    However, it's the first time I ever kept a count of the books I read which I'm finding interesting and I've really enjoyed the challenge of writing about each book, which makes me read a bit more attentively, I think.
    Next year I'm just going to set myself a small number of titles I really want to read and read around them.

  6. I can really commiserate with you, Séamus. Even though I know I should just pipe down and enjoy what I do read, there's always that little voice in the back of my mind reminding me how many more titles I want to get to and how 100 books a year really doesn't seem like all that much. It doesn't help that my favorite used bookshop is run by a rather elderly eccentric who reminds me constantly that I'm an utter failure for not reading a book a day. I often think I can do it, but it's not always possible in reality. Alas, we can't all be book sellers! :)

    This is also my first year keeping a blog and record of books read. I haven't been able to write a review of each title, unfortunately, but I've been pretty good about it, and at least I have the list on Shelfari. That's helpful and a nice way to go back and think about what I've read.

  7. I'll probably end the year having read only about 25 :( I'm hoping to reach 50 next year. I took quite a few long breaks from reading this year, so I definitely should be able to increase it.

  8. I hear ya, BooksandBoston, but 25 is still so much more than what the average person reads! :) Here's to a year of happy reading in 2012!

  9. I think 50 books a year - roughly a book a week - is a pretty serious reading habit. Until I started reading book blogs I thought aiming for 50 was pretty ambitious - especially if you've also got a job, friends, relationship, a house to keep clean, food to buy and cook, if you care about the news, ever do any other culture, care about sleeping etc etc etc.

    Anyone who reads more - I doff my electronic cap to you, but I don't think anyone who reads for pleasure should beat themselves up about how much is 'enough'.


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