Saturday, January 14, 2006

Reading Challenge

How many books do you read a year?

The eHarlequin community has issued a 100 books in a year reading challenge with coupons/vouchers as incentive. As I write this, there's still a discussion about whether they're wanting to count only Harlequin books--which of course includes Mira, HQN, Steeple Hill and Luna--or any books read. But still, it brings up the question--how many books do you read, on average, in a year?

I'm always shocked when I talk to writers (or aspiring writers) who say they don't read. For the most part, people decide they want to write because they love to read. I'm certainly one of those. I love to read. And I'm fortunate in that I am able to read fast.

A couple of years ago, I ran across a "Personal Reading Log" booklet my local library was giving away. I think I went through two of them, and when the pages started falling out and I had to hold them together with a rubber band, I converted to a computer file. For each book, there's a space to put down title, author, publisher and date, comments, and disposition--what you do with the book after you've read it.

I'm not very good at keeping up with my list, but I have it, and I make a new computer document for each year's books. Which means I have just created a new one for 2006, and I still have a big pile of books on the floor by my computer that I read in 2005 and still haven't put in the computer. I've often said that I average reading a book a day. Some days it's more, some days less. Right now, my count for 2005 is just over 200, and I seriously doubt I have another 100 books on the floor here, so I probably haven't read a book a day--but then, I'm not sure just how big a pile of 100 books is. Still, I ought to at least put the title, author, publisher and date in my list, even if I don't comment on each one of them. (That's what takes all the time.) Yet another thing to go on my to-do list. But who has time for making lists when there are all these books waiting to be read?

Anyway, I thought this 100-books-in-a-year challenge was interesting. I don't know that I'm going to sign up, since I'm one of Harlequin's authors and it doesn't seem quite fair--even though I buy an awful lot of Harlequin books...and I know I'll beat 100 books even if I don't sign up. Still, being the bookaholic I am, it just...sounded like a lot of fun. Doesn't it to you? How many books DO you read in a year? (If I ever get round to counting, I'll let you know my last year's total.)

Gail Dayton
The Compass Rose, Luna Books, RT Bookclub Reviewer's Choice nominee for Best Fantasy, 2005
The Barbed Rose, Luna Books, March 2005


Anonymous said...

I read a book a week on average. I've been keeping record of all my read books since 1994! Author, title and a short comment, usually just a word like "wonderful!" or "blahh". During winter I typically read less but then in summer I catch up and read about a book per two days or so.

I started doing it because my memory is so awful that I tend to forget if I've read a book or not... Now it's an addiction and i can't stop.

Milady Insanity said...

I read over 300 last year.

I typically read 3-4 a week, though last year I pretty much just bummed around, and this year's going to be a long, hard slog.

And yes, keeping track of the books you read can be an addiction, sez she who has half a dozen spreadsheets or so for different statuses (is that a word?).

JoAnn Ross said...

I don't make lists (so probably won't be doing the challenge, and I wonder if this is another clever way for HQ's all-powerful marketing department to learn what, exactly, their readers are buying) , but I probably read four books a week. And that's not counting the hundreds of nonfiction ones I read for research.

Funny thing about not being able to remember if I read them -- since my sweetie and I share books, I can't tell by the spine if I've read one before. (Especially since we've started buying more and more hardcovers because he enjoys the larger print.) So, lots of times I'll realize I'm rereading a book, but I only remember the scenes as I read them, so it's still pretty much like reading it the first time and if I'm enjoying the story, I just keep on going to the end. LOL

Allison Brennan said...

OMG JoAnn, how in the world can you read 4 books a week AND write???

I used to read 3-4 books a week. Sometimes more. When I was on maternity leave with my son in 2001, before I started seriously writing, I read 79 books in 3 months. In 2003, when I was on maternity leave with my daughter, I read 4 books in 3 months.

I find it very difficult to read when I'm in the middle of writing. To make up for it, after I turned in my last book I took 3 weeks "off" and have read about 6 books, and am in the middle of another ... plus writing 40 so-so pages and my option book proposal. So I feel like it's been productive!

Still, my goal is to read one book a week. I usually read a book in one or two sittings, it's finding that block of time that's harder.

Annalee Blysse said...

I probably average a 100 a year. Thing is, I slowed down last year! I have been reading more every day this year so I can be closer to 100 again.

MaryF said...

I don't think I could make a hundred a year, but one of my goals this year is to read at least a book a week. Over Christmas break (2 weeks) I read 10 books. Felt gooooood. said...

I wish I could say I read three or four books a week -- I used to, before I became a writer. Now I average two a week, so yes, I read about 100 books a year. Unfortunately, on my TBR shelf, I have at least 250 books I haven't read yet, so I doubt I'll ever catch up, since I buy more books every week! LOL. Still, it's a nice problem to have, and I enjoy just seeing all those shiny new books waiting for me. :)


JoAnn Ross said...

Allison -- How do I read 4 books week? Easy. I don't have five kids. LOL

Part of what helps is that I've never needed more than six hrs sleep a night and I've always read fast. When I was a kid I'd go to the bookmobile every two weeks and bring home 10 books for my mother and 10 books for me. After the first week we'd switch and she'd read mine and I'd read hers. Which was a little odd, now that I think back on it, because I was reading Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler in the second grade. Of course, that also had her reading the Betsy-Tacy and Bobsey Twin books. I also read my dad's Louie L'amour westerns and devoured all the Marvel comic books when I ran out of "real" books to read.

Which may be partly why my own books tend to be all over the place and why I was so suited to writing category for HQ Temptation, where the incomparable Birgit-Davis Todd encouraged her writers to push boundaries, write off the wall, and do whatever we wanted. So long as it worked. Which, it seems to me is what every editor should do, but many don't.

My number of books per week admittedly takes a hit during football season because I lose Saturday (Go Vols!) and Sunday (Go Titans!) afternoons and Monday nights. It's especially bad now with the playoffs coming during these deadlines! (Go Colts! whose QB is a former Vol. )

Ann Roth said...

I love knowing how folks count books and what they read. As for me, like Pat Kay, I used to read voraciously. Like Allison Brennan, when I'm writing a novel I don't read so much--Maybe two-three books per month indead of per week. Used to be, when working on a novel I only read books out of my genre (I write romance and women's ficiton, so I steered clear of those and read mysteries or non fiction or literary stuff), but now I read everything.

A good book, regardless of the genre, makes me want to head straight to the computer and write some good stuff myself. A badly written book, on the other hand ... well, I give every book 50 pages. If I can't handle it by then, I don't read it.

Happy reading, everyone. And for those who write, happy writing!

MaryF said...

I just counted and I'm on my 4th book for the year. That's about one a week. and I'm not writing right now while I wait to hear on revisions from my agent. So no challenge for me.

merlinsmuse said...

I read about two books a week, but could read more very easily if I allowed myself. Problem with that is that I'd get nothing else done.

I've heard writers say that when they're writing a book, they don't read at all because they don't want to be influenced by another writer's style. Sorry, I don't get that one. I read for inspiration. Without a constant flow of fantasy, romance, love and honour, I'd have a much harder time getting myself motivated.

Anyway, I'm sure I'd make the hundred books a year, no problem.


Allison Brennan said...

LOL, JoAnn . . . you're right, the number of books I read dropped exponentially with each kid. But, we have as many children's books in the house as books on my shelves, so I have been reading . . . just different things!

I so remember the bookmobile! But more than that was my first library card when I was 4. My mom was my inspiration and we went to the library at least every week.

I wasn't as well-rounded as you, because I read primarily mysteries, suspense and science fiction. But I can say I read virtually every Agatha Christie before I was 12.

Cathy, I read when I write, but not as much because of TIME! Ugh, I wish I had more of it, LOL. But when I read and write, I read outside of my genre. I don't pick up other romantic suspense novels, though I might read Janet Evanovich or Jennifer Crusie or something similar. I don't fear undue influences, it's more fear in general--why in the world did I think I could do this when this writer I'm reading (like JD Robb, Tess Gerritsen, etc) is so damn good? Those little doubt demons creep up and then I CAN'T write.