I randomly came across this interesting little site called ReadingLength.com. It uses 300 words per minute as an average reading speed to calculate how long it will take you to read a book.
This interested me as, I have to admit, sometimes if I pick up a book and it’s a hefty tome, I do have to really consider if I want to dedicate x-amount of time to reading it, just to end up not particularly liking it. There’s nothing worse than dedicating a week (or more!) of your reading-life to a book, only to really wish you hadn’t. So, I like the idea that on this site you can do a quick little test and it will give you a personalised words per minute (WPM) reading time result – mine was 286.
In a previous post, I mentioned that a friend of mine was not enjoying The Count of Monte Christo and given that it’s such a big book (over 1,000 pages) I advised she stopped reading. According to my WPM result, the good-old Count would take me 23 hours 3 minutes to read and given that 45 minutes reading per day is good for me at the moment, that means it would take me about a month to finish. So when put like that, I really find myself being put off even before starting. I’m not saying it would be a bad read, it might be the best month of my (literary) life but I’ve realised that I really have to feel like the book is going to be worth it, if it’s going to take me a while to read.
Of course, digital books come with this function built in. When you start reading them they give the page total, % of the way you are through them and the time left to read. Although, I find this constant reminder a little off-putting and not always accurate – such as the % read goes up, but time left either never goes down or also goes up… Then my mind starts wandering, assessing if I want to spent another 4 hours 45 minutes reading this book for example, and I can’t concentrate on the actual plot.
The same could be said about shorter books. I don’t mean short stories (I personally find those perfect for reading alongside a novel – for when you want to dip into another world for a brief time) but short books, novellas – does the length of them put you off in any way? Do you maybe feel they won’t develop a plot line or character arc satisfactorily enough to make you want to read? It’s just a question, as personally, I’ve read many shorter books I loved, two (very different ones) that spring to mind are The Vegetarian by Han Kang and The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.
I suppose I’m wondering if I need to get over my initial reaction that if a book is too long, I don’t know if I want to dedicate so much time to it unless there’s a guaranteed investment there. What do you think?