Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You Can Always Tell How Much Insomnia I'm Experiencing... the number of books I've read in a month.

I have found that, at this stage in my life, reading six books a month is a realistic number (though that will likely drop further, at least temporarily, once our other two children arrive).  That's about a book every five days or so.  This varies depending on the length of a book and the thoughtfulness required of me to read it. But six per month seems, on average, to work for me.  I know that many people read a lot more than I do, and that many read less than I do.  Regardless of others, though, this seems to work for me.

But not this month.  It's only the 18th day of the month and I've already read seven books...eight, really, but the eighth was just so bad that it didn't even make the list...and I'm a good chunk of the way through number nine.  Yes, it's been a tiring month - mostly the result of Matthew being sick for so blinking long, and me having to be up with him during the night so often (after which it takes a minimum of an hour for me to fall asleep again, and usually two or more hours).  So...I read.  I wish I could maintain this pace all of the time (minus the insomnia!) because there are so many books out there that I want to read.  Just imagine:  If one reads, on average, six books per month, that's only seventy-two books a year; and only seven hundred, twenty books in a decade!  That seems like a crazy low number given how many great books are produced every month of every year.  It's very frustrating.

I've ordered a book through the library system entitled something like The 1001 Books You Must Read in your Lifetime (this isn't the exact title), thinking that maybe this list could help me hone my reading a little, so that the books I can get through will be chosen thoughtfully.  Oh, but then I just know what'll happen...I'll have my list carefully cultivated and I'll be super focused on getting through my own 1001, and then I'll just happen to be at a bookstore, or browsing the amazon site, or wandering down the Costco book aisle with all of its reasonably priced books, or reading this year's short list for the Giller or Booker or some other such award list, or seeing what a friend is reading and wanting to read it, too, or trying to look straight ahead at the library to focus on Matthew's books but being side-tracked by the jacket cover of a book that, oh, I just have to read....and suddenly, my grand plan will go down the toilet (or will at least be hijacked for the time being) while I plow through the next spontaneous must-read.

At any given time, it seems like I have somewhere between twenty-five and thirty-five books on order through the library system; my place on the list varies anywhere between #1 and #165.  What invariably happens, though, is that a whole bunch become available for me at the same time and I have to drop whatever I'm reading in order to dive through the library books (which often can't be renewed because they are being waited for by other people).  So just last week, I picked up four, only to get a notice that another four were ready for pick-up yesterday (those two batches measured almost two feet high when stacked), and I was left wondering how on earth I'm going to read them all before they're due in three weeks.  Yikes, then this morning I got a notice that a further two are waiting for me to be picked up.

Hmm...maybe I should be glad for this month's 'gift' of insomnia.  I'm gonna need the time!

According to a number of sources, about one in four people read not even a single book in a year (wow!); excluding those who read nothing, the average number of books read is seven, according to a report you can find here, by msnbc:  How Many Books Do People Read?

How about you - how much do you read in a year?


  1. I have a hard time falling asleep after being up with the kids too. What's your secret on how you manage to read without waking up Geoff?

  2. Jeepers! Since children, I almost never read books. And I feel lots of guilt about that. I try to keep on top of short bits of information like the paper and the New Yorker (and blogs). But maybe I'm just watching too much TV. Kudos to you and your reading. It's inspiring to me.

  3. Back in the good old days I used to read 2-3 books a week, now it averages out to around 3-4 books a month. I do a lot of re-reading and can go through a favourite series at a rate of knots!