How do you … read so much

May 30, 2014 Discussion 17


Hi! I’m thinking of posting sporadically under a ‘How do you …’ banner, so I can answer a few questions that people always ask me. For the first one, I’m focussing on a question that I get asked a few times a week:

Question: Shaheen, how do you read so much?

Answer 1: I read.

Now that seems like a silly answer, I know. What I mean is that reading is basically all I do outside of work and obligations at home.

There’s a lot one can pack in after a standard day at work. There’s the gym, cooking, hanging to with family and friends, seeing movies, eating out, and a dozen other things. And usually, reading ranks pretty low on other people’s lists. So when they’re seeing how much I read, they’re assuming I do all those other things and then find time to squeeze in reading on top of that. But I don’t.

For me, reading isn’t about squeezing a few pages in here and there. Reading is about sitting on the couch with a cup of tea, and reading for hours on end. Of course, I have the luxury of doing that:

  • I don’t have kids;
  • I have a husband who does half of the housework around the house; and
  • I don’t have too many other interests.

Husband and I go out to dinner about once a fortnight, we see a movie at the cinema once every two months or so, and we go to Sydney about every six weeks to hang out with family and friends. I don’t go to the gym or anything like that either.

So my days consist of going to work, getting home, cooking and cleaning as required, and then sitting down and reading until bedtime. And weekends are spent doing chores right after we wake up and then spending the rest of the day doing whatever we want. All of which allows me to get a lot of reading done.

Answer 2: I am a very fast reader.

The second part to how I read so much is simply that I read very fast. When I first start reading, before I’m really into it and I can still hear all the neighbour’s noises and cars going down the street, I’m reading about 500 words a minute. It takes me between 10 and 15 minutes to slip into a stage where I can’t really hear anything else, and I’m fully immersed in reading the book. At this stage I’m reading around 700 words a minute.

Apparently if you watch me read, you’d think I’m just flipping the pages for the fun of it.

If I have nothing else to do, I can knock over the average YA novel in about 4 hours. For a non-YA book, depending on font-size, page-size and the complexity of the writing, I can read about 150-200 pages in the same time.

I’m not skipping anything either. I read and process everything. Sure, when I go back and re-read things I pick up things I missed the first time around. But I re-read LotR every year (this year will be the 13th or 14th time, I think), and every year I pick up new things. When I’m reading a book I’m just not into and skipping every second sentence, or sometimes whole paragraphs, I actually read slower because I often have to go back because I missed things and the story doesn’t make sense.

Answer 3: I’m lucky.

I think the biggest factor in how much I read is that I’m lucky. I’m lucky my favourite hobby is one I’m great at, because I’m learning how to crochet right now, and I’m no where near as quick or neat or skilled as I’d like to be. I’m lucky that my lifestyle, at the moment, allows me to read so much. If I get a different job or something else changes in our lives, I’m not sure how I’d go balancing it all. And finally, I’m lucky that I have a partner who supports my love of reading, which plays a huge role in the amount I read and the success of this website.

So there you have it. A comprehensive answer to a question I get asked all the time!

Please leave a comment telling me what your reading habits are! Am I really weird or are there others like me out there?

17 Responses to “How do you … read so much”

  1. Niki Hawkes

    I do have a follow-up question: where do you find the time to put together content for your blog? Your reviews are incredibly thorough and your features are always well researched. Things like that take a lot of time, and I was wondering how you fit it into your schedule. How long does a typical post take to compose? Perhaps it will help me figure out a way to be more efficient with my one blogging. πŸ™‚

    • Shaheen

      Hello! Thanks for hopping by πŸ™‚ This is actually the subject of a future post πŸ™‚ The next ones will be on how I manage my review schedule, and how/when I write my reviews. I can expand that second one to include all content πŸ˜€

      In short, I write reviews right after I finish the book and then proof-read (or try to) before they get published. The discussion posts and Stocktake Saturdays are much harder than the reviews, I find.

      • Niki Hawkes

        Awesome – since it’s going to be a post topic, I won’t press you for details now. Suffice to say I’m intrigued… πŸ™‚
        P.s. The non-review posts take me the most time too.

  2. Nathan (@reviewbarn)

    I am asked the question a bit too. And the first answer I give is the same as yours. I watch some sports but outside of that most TV bores me anymore, I read while I eat except for dinner with the family. And I have a job where, during the winter, I have downtime that leads to almost two hours of reading a day.

    • Shaheen

      I didn’t think I watch a lot of TV, but the people at my work watch even less than me! Which was surprising. I can actually watch TV and read at the same time, and although I read slower, I can pay attention to both and recall both accurately later. So that’s another bonus for me!

      I can’t eat and read at the same time though. I’ve been practising, but I just can’t. Something about food demands all my attention πŸ˜‰

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Rebecca

    I see bloggers and readers who read lotd get asked this question a lot and there answers are all usually the same: they make more time for it than others do. I know not everyone can, some people are busier than others, they have kids, other hobbies, ect; factors vary. Everyone’s schedule is different and not one person is the same. I’d love to read more and blog more, but at the moment, that’s probably not going to happen. So until then, I’ll just marvel at you lot.

    “Apparently if you watch me read, you’d think I’m just flipping the pages for the fun of it.” — this made me laugh. I’d love to see you in action πŸ™‚

    • Shaheen

      Yes, it’s definitely a thing one makes time for. But for me it’s not a chore either. I started the website because I love reading, not the other way around (I know some people blog about books to increase their reading rate, for example). I would read even more if I didn’t spend time reviewing and doing website relate destuff. And sitting on Twitter.

      I think, in the next few years, my reading rate will probably change. Changes at work, around the house, etc. will have an impact. So I’ll make the most of it while I can!

  4. Rochelle Sharpe

    I try and read two books a week. I plan to read them because if I don’t I won’t. (I need to plan everything I do so I can get everything done.) I hardly go out, I have kids so Friday and Saturday nights are spent at home. My husband loves watching the football, so while he’s watching that, I read. Sunday is my ‘free’ day so I like to sit and read the day away. Like you, I read. It’s what I like to do with my spare time and I wouldn’t want it any other way πŸ™‚

    • Shaheen

      Yes! I think this is another factor in my high reading rate: my husband has hobbies he engages in without me. We’re always in the same room, and we’re always talking and walking past each-other and sharing tea and hot chocolate, but in the end, our hobbies are separate. It works out because we both respect each-other’s time to do aloney things, but always make time for each-other as well. I’m a fan of my marriage!

  5. 88dreamers

    What do you do for work? (I work in childcare myself) Is it just me that’s dead at the end of the day. I attempt to read in my lunch break, people see me reading and think it’s a great chance to interrupt… But other than that my main reading time is only the weekend. Oh and did I mention I am a slow reader, I’d love to have your super reading skill!
    (I have always wondered about this question myself)


    • Shaheen

      I’m pursuing a PhD in Astronomy. My work isn’t physically demanding, but quite mentally demanding to make up for all the sitting in front of computers. I basically sit at a computer and write code, run it, get the results, and then do it all over again!

      Reading is how I relax. I will pick up a book on any day, even on days where I’m really really tired. Especially on days I’m tired!

      Thanks for hopping by!

  6. Tsana

    Hah, I like how you count husband doing half the house work as a luxury, when, ideally, it should be the expectation for most both-working couples. *shakes fist at society*

    My answers are pretty similar to yours except I don’t read nearly as fast as you do. I realised at some point that my reading speed had improved since blogging. Practice, I suppose. And, as you mention, living in a different place to most family and friends helps too.

    • Shaheen

      Hahahha, well I’m saying I’m appreciative. If he didn’t do those things I’d have less time to read πŸ™‚ But yes, I’d hope most both-working couples share the workload at home, but every marriage is different. *shrug*

      Yes! I think practise is definitely a factor. Like anything else, one gets better with time. I’m hoping I get awesome at crochet soon ^^

  7. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Woah you are a super fast reader Shaheen, that is awesome because you get to read more. I read quite quickly too but it does depend on what sort of book it is, whether it is a contemporary YA which I can read quicker or a dystopian/fantasy with complex world building where I need to slow down. I read on the bus to and from work but otherwise I wouldn’t be reading as much as I do now.

  8. Keely

    I read a lot also I fit reading in everyday around uni classes, assignments, study and the ridiculous amount of sport that I play. I usually read a YA book in about two to three hours or less depending on the size. I can knock over a 500 page book in a bit over four hours and still understand everything that I have read. I really think that it depends on how fast you read, how often and enjoying what you are reading.

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