Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the reading goals I’d set for myself in 2018, what worked, what didn’t, and what I’d like to do differently in 2019. Last year, I read 117 books and my average rating was a 3.7. As I consider 3 average (not bad, not great, I liked it enough but wouldn’t pick up again), an average rating above that is great. Especially considering I read more books than I’ve read in the past few years prior.
What I’ve been thinking about for this year, though, is to focus more on quality over quantity, and hopefully find more books that will make a deep impression and keep me thinking about them long after I’ve finished. And although I do enjoy reading in a wide range of genres, I’d also like to branch out more from my comfort zone of current fiction and read more classics and nonfiction. Maybe that means I’ll read a few less books this year. Which is absolutely fine.
But I decided to do some digging as to what the reading “norm” is. According to research, Americans read a mean average of 12 books per year. This isn’t exactly surprising; I know people who read a book a year and others who read a book a week. We all have our own happy pace.
The thing is, there are SO many books out there! Based on the latest available numbers I could find, there are over 2 million books published worldwide per year. There’s no way to read everything that’s out there. And there’s even some handy information about that!
Emily Temple over at LitHub combined life expectancy data with different types of readers (average readers at 12 per year; voracious readers at 50 per year; and super readers at 80 per year) to calculate how many books you will be able to read before you die, based on your current age. The below graphic is specific to women, but click on over to the site to see the info for men, too!
All this to say, even the most “super” readers out there will never be able to read all the books, even if we want to! I’m (almost) 35 and for purposes of easy calculations, am characterizing myself as a super reader. Which, barring any natural disasters, puts me at 4,080 books that I will still be able to read before I die. Four thousand and change certainly sounds like a lot, but it simply can’t stand up against the sheer amount that’s being published every year. So I’m feeling content in my decision to focus on being more selective with what I read this year.
How about you? Where do you fall on the scale? And how do you decide which books warrant your attention and which to pass on by?