Thursday, June 02, 2016

Are Big Books Worth the Reading Time They Take? Really?

Believe me, I'm reading as fast as I can.

I've been reading long enough now to understand that over a given period of time (say a week or two) I'm going to average the same old 40 pages an hour I always average.  Sure, there will be short periods during which I read at a higher rate, but they are always offset by times that I slow way down...so 40 pages per hour average, it is.

That got me to thinking about how many "chunksters," books of at least 500 pages in length, I want to work into my reading schedule these days.  I'm looking at a chunkster from one of my favorite authors right now, Elizabeth George, and feeling reluctant about beginning it even though it's the next volume in one of my favorite current detective series.  A Banquet of Consequences is some 573 pages long and that equates to approximately 14.5 hours of my reading time - reading time that might be better spent reading two books totaling 600 pages.

It's that "opportunity cost" of reading long books that has me limiting them more these days than ever before in my life. It seems that the older I get, the better I understand just how precious my remaining reading time is.  Do I waste those hours on bloated novels from the likes of Stephen King who never seems to know when to quit, or do I aim to read more books from more authors?  Do I toss aside books after 30 or 40 pages if they don't click with me or do I give them a little more time?  My 40-page rule has served me well for the last ten years or so, but maybe it's time to drop that number to 30.  

As for chunksters like A Banquet of Consequences, I'm sure that I'll still read some of them - but they are going to have to be books that are "important" to me (this one certainly qualifies), books that continue to nag at me until I do read them.  But I suspect there won't be all that many of them in my future.

Too many books, too many authors, too many translated titles from around the world, too many e-books at my finger tips, too many ARCs...man, I love my life right now.

6 comments:

  1. I feel exactly like you do. I'm just finishing a book of 734 pages that I really enjoyed, but it's taken me months to finish because I've wanted to read shorter books, too. I'm much quicker to decided not to read a book these days. As they say, Time Marches On!

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    1. And that march is faster and faster every day, seems like, Joan.

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  2. :) I'm the opposite! I love chunksters. If the author is someone I like--the longer, the better. That doesn't mean I think every 500-700 page book should be that long. Some books need to edit out not just paragraphs, but pages...and sometimes entire chapters!

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    1. I'm not ready to go cold turkey on the things, but I'm going to make sure that there's a good reason to read them before I start one. Favorite authors are an exception, Elizabeth George being one example. But I've read my last Stephen King doorstop because his books are seriously bloated and boring at times...and I used to read every one of the things anyway.

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  3. I do notice my neglect of a long book I've started, only to pick up short reads in between. Usually, on a longer read I might start skipping pages toward the end. It really depends on the read.

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    1. Jacqueline, to me skipping around or skimming toward the end of a long book tells me one thing: the author bloated it up to the point of boredom. I hate to keep coming back to Stephen King as an example of an author addicted to the sound of his own keyboard keys, but he's the most obvious.

      Taking a break from long books while reading a short one or two is, I think, a great way to jumpstart a book of any length. It always works for me.

      Too, if I haven't gotten into a book by 40 pages, I pretty much always toss it aside for good.

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