Reading a Book a Day

July 16, 2008 at 12:32 am | Posted in Book Blather | 5 Comments

Yes, it’s true, I’ve been trying to read a book a day.  It’s not such a big deal, really – I can’t think of a day when I haven’t read at least a part of a book, other than my horrible Bookless Month experiment last fall, and even then I was still reading the paper.  So why not try to make a game out of it?  Especially because I was more or less falling apart back in January, after losing a pet on December 30.  I just needed something to do, and honestly I have plenty of potholders and scarves already.

The goal is actually to read an average of a book a day, or 366 by New Year’s Eve.  I mean, sometimes life does intrude.  Like when my brothers and I went to Cancun.  Though I did indeed bring a book to Chichen Itza, it stayed on the bus during the tour.  Even I will choose ancient ruins over Richard Russo.  There are other things; for instance, I don’t always wind up finishing a book on the nights we have book group.  So I catch up on weekends.

The strategy is fairly simple:  Read shorter books during the week, and save longer books for the weekend, or parse them out over lunch breaks for a couple of days.  I can polish off just about anything under 300 pages in an evening, but there’s no way I’m going to eliminate a particular title due to page count.  How crass.  No, I just plan it out a bit.

I read anywhere from 30 to 100 pages an hour, depending on what it is, though I think 50 is typical.  Oddly, I don’t do as well with paperbacks, especially mass-market size.  I’m spoiled on those lovely library editions with the nice big type and the wide page margins.  I just find it’s easier when the book holds itself open.

Now, this part is a secret.  I do pretty much nothing but read, and I do it everywhere.  I read while I eat.  I read while I brush my teeth.  I read while walking down the street, inciting this comment from a waiter outside Tandoori Express:  “How you do that?”  Indeed.  I listen to audio books while I cook and fold laundry, though it’s faster to read an actual book while stirring the risotto.  I keep a place marked in an e-book in my PDA and read in line at the store.  In college I learned to eat with chopsticks using my left hand, so I could prop up a book and take notes while enjoying my teriyaki tofu don.

Based on this description, you might expect me to live a life of squalor.  Morbidly obese, hunched on a plaid sofa with the stuffing coming out, surrounded by empty soup cans and the litter boxes for my six cats, reading genre fiction… I’m a little unusual, but unless you saw me walking down the sidewalk with my face in a book, you probably wouldn’t look at me twice.  I bike commute – along with showering, this is my time for daily reflection and planning.  I have a routine.  I shop on Mondays on the way home from work.  I cook ahead, making big batches of stews and pot pies for lunch.  I do those niggling enviro-duties like hang drying my laundry and washing and reusing produce bags.  I even have a pet and a love life, believe it or not.  The gray ball of fluff in my lap is a parrot, Noelie, who enjoys playing peekaboo around the book covers and getting long, leisurely neck scratches.  My man is on an epic journey of home remodeling, so I’m often found perching on his couch while he runs drywall down the hall.  (Sometimes he perches there with me, reading Patrick O’Brian).

The point of the whole thing is not escapism but life enrichment.  What else am I going to do, watch TV?



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  1. I’m impressed! Even at my peak I never topped about 2.5 books a week. These days I am thrilled to read ONE book a week! TV is not my big distraction- the internet is.

  2. Ah, the Internet… Y’know, I don’t think it’s as big a temptation for me because my desk chair isn’t very comfortable. If I could sit there and surf the web on a big screen TV with a remote, there could be a problem.

  3. Thanks for all the tips…I’m trying to go into triple digits this year for the first time and I need all the help I can get.

  4. Left-handed chopsticks? Wow! I am impressed!

  5. I commend you for setting such a goal. I’ve read an entire book in each of the last two days, and I have definite respect for your longevity. Thanks for laying out your methodology.

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