On the 9th of January I posted on FB that I’d just finished book #7 of the year, Gabino Inglesias’ superb The Devil Takes You Home.
A friend replied “7?! HOW?!”
Now I get this a lot, as I read a lot. Admittedly, the first week of January was a lot, even for me. Last year, for example, I read 52 books, and that’s the fewest I’ve read in a year for quite a while.
However, this doesn’t even come close to the number some of my #bookblogger chums get through! And they also regularly get the ‘how do you read that many/that fast?’ with a certain amount of incredulity on the part of the person asking, almost as if they can’t quite believe that it’s true.
It’s true. (I’m not for a moment suggesting that my friend didn’t believe me!)
Whilst this is an unusual rate for me personally, a few factors contributed.
I started the first book (Harriet Tyce’s excellent It Ends At Midnight) on New Year’s Eve (seemed appropriate), so finished it off in the morning of January 1st. Some would argue that I’ve not ‘read’ all of the book in 2023. Hush now.
I started book 2 (Louise Swanson’s equally excellent End of Story) straight away. I love her books, so dived in. Finished that on January 2nd, and onto…
Book 3 (Needless Alley, by Natalie Marlow). Finished that one on January 4th, early hours of the morning. By that point I’d discovered that I’d come down with Covid, so was off work sick, curled up on the sofa. I’d been send this book by the lovely folk at Baskerville, it’s out in February so I wanted to get through it in time for publication.
Book 4 was The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie. Started when I got up on January 4th, finished later that evening.
Book 5 was The Vicar Man, by Amelia Crowley. January 5th, read it in a day (sofa, blanket, hot honey & lemon). Fairly short book, enormously entertaining. Written by a friend’s partner and been on the shelf for a little while (sorry Amelia!)
Book 6 was The Spare Man, by Mary Robinette Kowal, read between January 6th and January 7th. Bit of a chunkier ebook, so took me a while longer. Enjoyed it a lot so savoured it a little. Gimlet is the Best Dog Ever.
Book 7 was Gabino Inglesias’ The Devil Takes You Home, which was just utterly stunning in its writing and kept me reading late into the night (well, the early hours of the morning of January 9th.
Things that helped me get through these books quickly:
- January started with two days holiday
- I had two days off sick with Covid…
- …followed by a weekend when couldn’t go anywhere (see Covid excuse)
- The kids were staying out of the way because of the twice-aforementioned Covid which meant (relative) peace and quiet on my sofa under a blanket (and cat)
I also didn’t watch much TV. Just curled up on the sofa and read.
I’ve read another two books since then, but the pace has slowed somewhat. The Daughters of Izdihar by Hadeer Elsbai took me until January 13th, partly because I was back at work that week, the book was much chunkier and I was taking my time with it. TV was on more and it’s harder to concentrate on the books.
Latest book is Grave Expectations by Alice Bell (started Friday 13th, finished lunchtime today, Monday 16th), which I happened across on Instagram (I think) and promptly ignored my ‘no more books from NetGalley until I clear the backlog’ rule to request it and the pesky publisher only went and approved the request.
It’s enormous fun, about Claire, a 30-something medium whose best friend Sophie died when they were both 17, but still hangs around and keeps telling Claire where she’s gone wrong. Murder mystery at a big old house, loved it.
So yes, I read a lot. Mainly by not doing a lot of other things. My reading rate will drop off, I’m sure, probably back to the one or two a week.
My friend commented that they read maybe a book a month. And that’s brilliant! It really doesn’t matter how much, or how little you read. Are you enjoying it? Then carry on.
But if someone says that they read 200, 300 books a year? Instead of not believing them, or grumbling that they “can’t possibly read that much”, or they “can’t be reading properly” or “must be skipping bits” or, heaven forbid “must just be reading [insert current genre snobbery here]”
Then maybe just keep it to yourself. They’re happy reading whatever it is they want to read, in whatever format it is they’re happiest reading books. People read in different ways, for different reasons. Maybe they don’t watch TV. Maybe they read fast. Maybe they’re got a library card and are not afraid to use it.
Let’s all just be happy reading. There are so many great books out there.
3 thoughts on “On reading (a lot)”
Well said, Dave – here’s to reading as much or as little as we want!
I didn’t think that I read a lot, until someone pointed out that I read in a year what some people read in a lifetime. Never thought about it that way before