Reading time

There’s a post up at Metaxu Cafe (originally posted here) asking people how much time they spend reading — and asking for hard numbers, and numbers not including time spent on newspapers or the internet, but time spent with books (although I suppose one can read a book on the internet and newspaper reading can sometimes be intense — and what about magazines? — but I think you get the idea — this is about time spent on intense, substantive reading). How many hours per day? Per week?

I think this is an interesting question; I find myself curious about people’s responses and wanting to hear more. I’m particularly interested in how much time those people who manage to read a lot of books a year (for me, “a lot of books” means something closer to 100 books or more rather than the 50 or so I’m capable of) spend reading each day. Those of you who can read that much, do you read super fast, or do you read a lot of hours a day?

For me, I manage about a 1-2 hours a day during the week in the middle of the semester (sometimes less, sometimes more), maybe 2 or 3 hours on the weekends, and then when school isn’t in session, probably 2-5 hours a day. What limits my reading time, besides work (which for me includes grading and prepping classes on the weekends), are the hours I spend riding my bike and the hours I spend on the internet (dare I even ask how much time people spend on the internet? I’m not going to admit my number …). Also, I find that I can’t read for too many hours in a day (over 5, say) before I find my brain is fatigued and I’m getting restless. I sometimes have trouble sitting still for long periods of time, so if a book isn’t super-high interest, I may jump up a lot and run an errand or check something online. I’m enjoying my book, but I also feel the need to take a lot of breaks. Writing blog posts cuts into reading time too. But I can’t imagine what those of you with children do to find reading time, and having more of a social life would cut down on the reading too.

How much time do you spend reading?

22 Comments

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22 responses to “Reading time

  1. All day, if I have the chance and some good books. I’ve never had trouble sitting down and reading for 16 hours (with a few very short breaks.) I also read quite quickly, especially fiction – I know that Harry Potter and the Order of the phoenix, which is 768 pages, took me about 10 hours of non-stop reading. Since I started it at 1:30 a.m. on the day it was released, my eyes were really stinging when I finished it…

    More realistically, at least a few hours every day, but it depends. Sometimes I spend a lot of time on the internet; sometimes I go on a book craze and am only on the internet for an hour or less every day. Like right now – I joined a 50 Book Challenge for 2007, and if I keep up the pace I’m at right now, I’ll have accomplished my goal by late February. There’s now way I’ll have the time to keep up that pace much longer.

  2. My limitation is energy, not time. Dense or technical books can fry my brain in half an hour, but a light autobiography can keep me up two hours past my bed time. I probably average an hour a day–not much but I’ll take what I can get!

  3. Pierre

    I don’t over indulge my reading. This is mainly because I think a lot of what I read–fiction, mostly–sinks in better if I allow myself to wander away from the book for a while. This is either done by giving the book a break and taking a walk, or just picking up a different book while the other one soaks in.

  4. I don’t spend nearly as much time reading as I used to. Always at bedtime — usually not more than half an hour or so — and in addition to that, probably another 2-3 hours over the course of a week. To answer your question about “those of you with children” I can tell you that although I don’t read as much as I did Before Kids, there are plenty of things I don’t do AT ALL any more, such as following the fortunes of the U-M football team. I’d give up everything else before I give up reading. And sometimes I’m too tired to read something new, but not too tired to re-read an old favorite…

  5. Well, after doing my statistics for 2006, I am making a concerted effort to spend at least one hour a day reading books in 2007(I do also spend lots of time reading magazines, the newspaper, and blogs). The rest of my free time (not working; not exercising; not sleeping; not buying, preparing, and eating food, etc.) seems to be spent socializing, spending time with Bob, and watching movies/DVDs (I don’t watch much TV other than movies, of which I watch 1 or 2 a week). I, like you, though, find it hard to sit still, and even if I’m really, really into a book, will often find myself hopping up and and down to do other stuff while I’m reading it, unless I’m on an airplane or a train, or it’s night, and I’m in bed with my book. I’m not a fast reader at all (I read about 40 pages per hour, sometimes less, depending on the book). I’m extremely envious of people like Poodlerat who can read a 768-page book in 10 hours!

  6. I probably spend a good two hours a day on reading, but usually this is combined with doing something else. I read on the bus to and from work (and usually waiting for the bus–but right now it is too dark and cold in the mornings), I read on my lunch break, and while walking on my treadmill (which is a daily thing between 30-50 minutes). If I thought I could read at the gym I would, but some machines require use of hands and people would look at me funny. I read less on weekends as I usually watch movies in the evenings. I also don’t have kids or much of a social life, so I might do better than others with families. I hate to admit how much time I spend on the computer. This takes away from reading time, and I find that in the last year or so I do needlework less than I have in the past–more time spent reading. I tend to go in phases with my hobbies, but I have always read. Usually I can get through about 50 books a year, but I managed over 70 last year. I’m not sure how to account for that–more concentrated reading–or better planning, or maybe those challenges (which I usually can’t finish, but they still help me stay on task). If I could read more, I am sure I would, but I think it is also good to take breaks and let whatever you’re reading have time to be digested. Normally this is fine–it is just when I get so completely involved in a story that I hate having to stop and go to work, and then wait for a break or lunchtime. One last thing–I am worthless when it comes to reading before bed. I used to be able to stay up half the night reading, but not anymore. I have to get up too early I guess. I might be able to read about a page, but then I’m done for!

  7. Oops. Sorry that was so long winded!!

  8. I can usually only manage an hour a day during the week, and 2-3 hours per day on the weekends. I consider myself a slow reader, but that is just a self-assessment with nothing tangible to base it on. Knowing that I won’t be able to read everything that sounds interesting to me makes me a little more selective in what I do read. I typically read about 50 books a year.

  9. It depends really sometimes I read hours at a time other days I am on the internet hours a day so read less. Although I still read books while on the internet i.e I’ll click on a website and while its doing its 30 items remaining thing I’ll read some of one of my books rather than just sit and wait. I’m a fast reader though very much a skimmer (like my Dad

  10. It is so interesting to see this particular blog here, because just tonight I was discussing this topic with my reading partner. Talking about HOW I read. I am a very distractable type person. I need a good reading atmosphere, yet I prefer to do most of my reading in a public environment. Somehow I LIKE the distraction factor, yet deep down, it bothers me. [Go figure!]
    So, I read in coffee shops. I would say that a good 90% of my reading takes place in public places. And even so, I read an average of at least 2 – 3 hours a day. Especially if I factor in weekends, which sometimes means I will be reading 4, 5, or 6 hours in a Saturday or Sunday. The only reason I do not read 10 or 12 hours a day is because I am at work, where I cannot read.

  11. Cam

    I usually spend a couple hours a night reading something, but often that is online reading (news, blogs, etc.). But, it often is interruptable reading — phone calls, family members, half paying attention to something on the tv if it is on in the same room (though I’m getting very adept at ignoring it completely). For instance, if I weren’t going to my sister’s home tomorrow to watch the football games, I’d most likely be reading in the same room my family was watching tv, and only somewhat aware of the score (I’ll be no more aware of the score tomorrow but the room full of people cheering will clue me). If I’m really taken with a book, I’ll sneak in chapters while doing things like cooking dinner, in the drive up line at the bank, and sometimes will shut the door of my office for 10 minutes to sneak in a little reading on a busy day, especially if I don’t take a lunch break. For a really guilty pleasure, I’ll stop at a coffee shop on my way to work, and read for 15 minutes while drinking a coffee. So, how much book in hand reading to I get in? Probably 5 – 10 hrs/week. Too bad there isn’t more time in the day!

  12. I have just under three hours every day on the train on the commute to or from work so that quickly adds up, plus I always read at least half an hour before I go to bed, unless I am really, really tired. On the weekends I try to read about an hour each day. If I cut down on my computer time I would be able to read a lot more!

  13. Yes, having children and a blogging habit definitely cuts into my reading time! I always read in the bath – about half an hour – and then I probably manage another 30 minutes in the course of the day. It’s not nearly enough, but I have unavoidable restrictions. Luckily I read fast, and if I’m loving a book, I can read it in a couple of days. Right now, I’m reading a novel in German for the first time and it’s going very slowly.

  14. I probably read a baseline of at least an hour most days. It’s hard for me to find a chunk of un-interruptable time, so most of my reading takes place in bits and starts, though, five or ten minutes here, thirty minutes there, so it can be hard to estimate the total time spent. I love having a weekend where I can spend a couple hours (or more) reading at a stretch, but I’m so used to being interrupted that I often don’t take advantage of it unless I’m approaching the end of a book and find it too engrossing to set aside for household stuff.

  15. Great question! My sister and I were talking about this very thing not long ago. On average I read 1-2 hours a day Monday through Friday and 3-6 hours Saturdays and Sundays. During the summer when I can escape my coworkers and sit outside for lunch I can squeeze in close to another hour a day during the week. And sometimes I take a day off work just to spend it at home reading.

  16. My reading is mainly in the “in-between time” – on the bus to and from work, between appointments, during lunch, during dinner, while waiting for the laundry to be done.

    That might add up to about 1~2 hours on weekdays Occasionally I get a few more hours during weekends. So, give or take, about 10 hours a week?

    I can’t sit down at a book too long. Bad for the eyes, and my attention span is getting shorter. I think 45 minutes at a time is my limit.

  17. I’ve been known to marathon a book but I think since discovering blogs my true reading time has shrunk amazingly and I would say 1 hour (I’m thankful for my commute actually) a day and perhaps 2 hours per day on a weekend.

  18. Thank you all for your stories — I enjoyed reading all of them. I find myself very interested in other people’s reading lives, and I’m guessing I’m not alone in that!

  19. I read about 1-2 hours every day. I try to read at lunch time but sometimes my coworkers force me to be social :) I like to read before bedtime and on the weekends I usually read more. My problem is how to juggle my reading time with my crafting time.

  20. It’s probably less time than I think it is, what with all the disruptions and interruptions. Probably a couple of hours a day, but it does depend on what I have to do. If I have to prepare new books to teach or lecture on, then of necessity that figure rises!

  21. I binge read when I read & I read extremely fast. The one year I kept count of how many books I read it was something like 180. Many of these were easy reads- chicklit and books of essays, but there was also some quite heavy non fiction.

    If I’m in the zone I will read 5-6 books (probably mostly light ones) over the course of a weekend (maybe 6 hours on Saturday and 6 hours on Sunday?)through staying up late and interspersed with child-care. I quite often read a couple of hours a day at night, longer if something is really compelling, during the week- but I will also go for weeks when nothing particularly strikes my fancy & I watch lots of tv or play computer games and I don’t read at all.

    When I was childfree I’d read for 12 hours a day over the weekends if something caught my interest but that just never happens anymore.

  22. Pingback: Honest Chaos » Blog Archive » Sunday Spotlight 3: Of Books and Bicycles

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