Sunday, February 17, 2008

Amanda Patchin's Reading Challenge

Amanda Patchin is passionate about books and reading but lifestyle changes in the last couple of years have really limited the amount of time that she can devote to reading: two children, a one-year-old and an 8-week-old. She found herself slipping from a pace of more than one hundred books per year down to fifty-something and feared that in 2008 she would be lucky to work in twenty-five. Amanda refuses to let that happen and she created a personal challenge to make sure that it doesn't, complete with a public blog to track her progress and thoughts. The Idaho Statesman talks about her today:
The 27-year-old owner of Veritas Fine Books & Coffeehouse in Garden City has read about 10,000 pages since Jan. 1. That's more than 200 pages a day, but she has a long way to go to reach her goal of 79,349 pages by the end of 2008.
In 2005, she married her business partner, Jared, and they bought a bookstore on the Boise Bench, calling it Veritas.

In 2007, they expanded and moved Veritas to its current location on Chinden Boulevard and welcomed their first child, 1-year-old Alex. He now has an 8-week-old brother, Lucius. Patchin cares for her boys while working 70-hour weeks and spending most of her nights up rocking, nursing and reading aloud from Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina."

Her hands are more than full, but in an effort to preserve her sanity and intellectual edge, she dreamed up The Web site launched on Dec. 31, 2007, with a note about Patchin's quest to read 200 celebrated books in one year, two at a time.
Not only does Patchin read 600 words a minute, she has an 85-90 percent retention rate compared with the average reader, who takes in 200 words a minute and remembers about 60 percent of the content.

"I'm not virtuous that I can read 200 pages a day; I'm gifted to be able to do it. For people who don't have the passion or the capacity, just set a goal for yourself that makes sense," she said. "You don't go out and run 10 miles and get a runner's high the first time. You have to build up to it."

Before launching the site, Patchin decided on the big 200. It could have been an exercise in indulgence. She could have peppered the list with old favorites including Austen and Tolkien and dozens of classics she's been meaning to read.

Instead, she went to Everyman's Library, a Web site created by Knopf and Random House UK to honor the Everyman's collection founded by London publisher Joseph Malaby Dent in 1906. It now includes more than 500 titles, many of which are on Patchin's list of poetry and fiction, nonfiction, religious, philosophical, historical, biographical and children's literature.
Right now, the site gets about 25 unique visitors a day, which is fine with Patchin. She isn't doing this to inspire a nation. She simply loves reading, and she figured a few people might find her quest interesting enough to inspire their own, whatever the tally.

"I want to challenge people to read a bit but not in the way of saying, 'You should do what I do.' It's not a big educational thing for the public, but I thought it would be fun to have their input," she said.
I have only spent a few minutes at her blog so far, but I'll definitely be checking back in with her on a regular basis to see how she's coming along in what is probably the biggest personal reading challenge that I've run into so far in 2008. Good luck, Amanda.


  1. How does she know how many words per minute she reads? Or what her retention rate is? That's not meant to sound snarky-I'm really curious, lol.

    Ok, I went to read the article to find out if it told me why. So weird that she's soliciting donations-I mean, isn't that what a library is for? But it's good to see someone passionate about books!

  2. Sounds very interesting. I like these inspirational figures. Thanks for the heads-up!

  3. Very cool. I'm going to go visit her blog. I wish I could read that fast.

  4. wow! 200 in a year? eva, interesting you should ask how she knows how fast she reads. i'm curious too.

    she isn't any different from us, with our own TBRs and goals ... we book bloggers probably just won't make it to the big 200.

    i;m off to visit her site.

  5. Wow--I can't even imagine that and I have no children and just work a regular full time job. She must have a very understanding partner! I hope she accomplishes her goal.

  6. I've read more than 200 books for the last two years. I work full time and am a single mum, but do have the luxury(?) of 15 hours commute time every week which is when I read. This year I have dropped my goal down because I am hoping to get a job closer to home.

  7. 200 books just seems impossible to me, y'all. I really don't think I will ever reach that level. In fact, the 159 I finished last year was a "personal best" for me and I doubt that I'll read that many this year because I've been working full-time again since the end of October. Being unemployed for seven months of 2007 sure gave me a lot of extra time to read...that's one of the better things that came from those months.

    I'm going to have to check in at Amanda's site every few days to see how she's coming along. I enjoyed her posts about running the bookstore also...still my dream job, one that will always remain a dream and never a reality, looks like.

  8. You might be right, Aloi...I never dreamed I'd read 159 books in a year and that happened in 2007. I'm still amazed by even that number...but 200 seems like a whole other mountain to climb.