If you’re reading that title and going “hey wait a second, I read this blog for books, not math!” – don’t worry. When I first contemplated doing this post and attempting math, my first thought was:
But then I remembered that, even though I haven’t taken a math class in like five years, I do know how to do basic things like adding and averages! Look at me now, math teachers.
I often tell myself and others that if I’m enjoying a book, I’ll fly through it. In fact, some of my best bookish memories have to do with tearing through a book in a single sitting because I can’t bear to put it down – sobbing through The Fault in Our Stars on Christmas day, reading the entirety of Carry On during one memorable train ride, missing my first night of study abroad because I couldn’t put down The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, etc.
But I sometimes wonder whether saying that is entirely true. Yes, I might read a book more quickly if I’m loving it, but there have also been instances that I take my time with a book and love it just as much or even more.
I’m attempting to answer this question, using some of my 2018 reads as data. I’m pretty good about updating my Goodreads and keeping track of when I start and finish books, so I have a fairly accurate sense of how long it took me to read all the books I read in 2018.
What I did was average the number of days it took to read 14 of my lowest rated books and 14 of my highest rated books from 2018.
Of course, there are so many other factors involved, like book length, format, what was going on in my life at the time, and so much more, but for the purposes of this post, I’m ignoring all of this.
Here are my results:
Low rated books: average of 5.29 days
High rated books: average of 2.71 days
Which shows me pretty clearly that the books I enjoy more end up being faster reads!
However, the second part of my question is this: do I read a book fast because I love it, or do I love it because I read it fast?
There have been times that I fly through a book and rate it highly, only to look back weeks or months later and realize I overlooked things at the time which might lower my rating if I went back. There have been other cases where I take my time with a book and, by the end, realize that it’s a new favorite.
I don’t know if I would have liked those low rated books more if I had read them faster – if I had been less busy at the time, if other things hadn’t been going on, if I had been more motivated to read – but it’s a possibility. And maybe some of those high rated books would be rated lower if I had slowed down on them.
For me, I consider it high praise when I say I read a book in a single day, but maybe I need to reconsider that. Despite the large difference between the average number of days it took me to read my lowest and highest rated books, there is still some overlap. There was one book on my lowest rated books list that I read in a single day, whereas one of my favorite books of the year took me almost a week to read. Obviously, length of time and enjoyment of the book isn’t completely clear cut.
In conclusion, I don’t really know how to answer this question and I feel like I’m talking myself in circles now. Going forward, though, I’ll consider more how the length of time I spend on a book impacts how I rate it. Maybe I’ll find that some of my ratings change in the future…
What do you think about this? Does your rating depend on how fast you read a book?