I’ve always been a quick reader, but recently, I’ve been thinking about how fast I really do read. You see, I post about books on my Instagram account, and recently, people have asked me how quickly I read or how I have time to read all the books I post about.
My confession is that I haven’t read every book or lit mag that I share on social media. Now, this isn’t really a confession because it’s not like I pretend to read all the books on my Instagram. I post about books I bought (because I intend to read them) and books I’m currently reading (but may abandon without warning). I post about books I’ve finished and reviewed. I rarely reread these days, but sometime I post about books I’ve enjoyed in the past. I even post about books I’m buying as gifts for others. This is all to say, my Instagram isn’t a log of what I’ve actually read—that’s what Goodreads is for!
According to Goodreads, which I keep meticulously up-to-date, I have finished 10 books this year as of the beginning of April. That’s it—and they aren’t even very long books. The longest are An American Marriage, at 306 pages, and The Wedding Date, which is 310 pages. The rest of the books I’ve read this year are between 36 pages (Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nobel lecture) and 217 pages. Even if you’re not great at math, you can see that this isn’t a super impressive reading list or page count for a so-called fast reader.
Granted, I have around six to nine books I’m currently reading, in one way or another. Six of those are nonfiction books that don’t need to be read linearly; I’ve read most of Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert’s wonderful book about creativity, but very little of What Editors Do, an anthology of essays about publishing. So really, I’ve had my hands on around 20 books this year, but haven’t finished all of them.
Despite this low number of pages and books thus far in the year, I am a fast reader. It’s just that I don’t always read. I confess: often, reading gets pushed down on my priorities list, and this means that I go days (or weeks) without reading. Several of the books I’ve read have been spread out over a week or two: I read An American Marriage, Such Small Hands, and The Queue this way. Then there are books that I read in one or two sittings: I read The Adulterants in a weekend, Mrs. Caliban took me a night, and I devoured The Perfect Nanny on a transatlantic flight.
This is all to say it really just comes down to life. If something else is more important during the week, I may not read much. But then again, I may read an entire book in a few days or even a few hours. I do have a high reading speed—when I make time for reading.
Do I want to read more? Of course. Who doesn’t? But I’m not worried about reading more. For one thing, I set my Goodreads goal for the year at 30 books, which means I’m right on track. And I don’t want to pressure myself into reading; that’s what college was for (and that didn’t even always work!).