How much do you read?

How much do you read?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!

how many books will you read before you die
(image via

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?

8 thoughts on “How much do you read?

  1. In regards to reading, I’m whatever the level beyond super reader is.
    Of course, that is meaningless here because as you noted, SO MANY BOOKS!!!!! Toss in re-reads of the good stuff and bam, you’re done like a pig roast.

    One reason to not worry about getting to read “that” book. In another couple of years there will be plenty of “that” book to read 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like your plan to focus on quality over quantity. If you factor into the above numbers how many simply “okay” books are a part of that 4,000 in a lifetime (or whatever), you really start getting sad! I mean, why read a big heap of books you barely process, that don’t change your life or stay with you like friends, just to get the number up? Better one hundred absolutely incredible life-changing reads that challenge you to be a better human and to look at the world critically, than 4,000 basically okay cardboard stories that make no particular impact. Now the real challenge is how to find the ones that will make that top 100 list. Because my Middlemarch is your War & Peace. 🙂

    (I am speaking of the universal you, by the way. I wasn’t mocking your reading as cardboard. I just arrived here for the first time and have no idea what you read, nor would I ever judge you for it. I only meant to say I agree with the “quality of quantity” philosophy to the extreme. I’m just realizing the same thing about where I want to go from here as a reader.) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I tend not to write reviews but I always give the book a ‘number’ in my head…but I use a system whereby I can’t give a 3 rating. I have to man-up and give it a 4+ or a 2 or lower. thus why I am not writing reviews – i don’t think that would be very fair – it’s more for my own education. I make myself think about what I loved or hated about the book, and would I read it again! that is the telling factor.

    Liked by 1 person

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