Friday, December 18, 2009

How do they do it?

Marie over at Boston Bibliophile posted recently about people who book through books. You know the ones I mean: the people who tell you they love to read so much that they read (insert unimaginably large number here) books in a week. Although in general, I try not to think about these people, it is an interesting question. How do they do it? I propose three possible answers.

1) They don't really. I went to a book club meeting once, and there was a woman there who went on and on about how much she loved to read. Loved to read! 

Now, this woman could loosely be called a friend of mine; at least, we were Facebook friends and I had noted that she used the Visual Bookcase app, but was "currently reading" the same book (Eat, Pray, Love) for six months. But I smiled politely and bit my tongue.

She went on about how she read all the time. All the time. She even read while she was cooking! Finally, the other book club members were impressed, and she stopped with a self-satisfied smile. 

The next day, on Facebook, she updated her status: "I'm reading while cooking dinner!"
Don't you just hate it when you have the perfect Facebook comment but you can't post it? Here was mine: No, you're not, you're updating your status on Facebook while burning dinner.

2) They read for a living. One of my high school friends is a school librarian, and she sends out numerous book reviews weekly on goodreads and has probably a hundred followers on that site as well - many of whom are parents at her school, or other school librarians. Many of the book reviews are of children's books and rated for age and type of child. 

I complimented her once on how much she read, and she said, "Thanks - I think being unemployed for part of the year helped me get a lot of reading done."

I suspect that had some disadvantages as well.

3) They don't really get anything out of it. When I decided to try to read 50 books in a year, I looked around at many possible reading challenges (and there are a lot of them). I considered the 100-book-a-year challenge on goodreads, and read some of the group discussion - which included a post by one man who bragged that he had read Proust's Swann's Way and two other books in the past week.
That's right, her read Proust's 496 page novel in two days.
I thought, but did not post: Really? And what did you get out of the experience, other than bragging rights?
With the exception of group 2, I've learned to avoid these sorts of people - I find they stress me and make me enjoy my own reading less. I hate admitting that I've never read Proust, for example, but which is worse - not having read Proust, or skimming Proust in order to check it off your list? Are you a better cook or a better reader if you read while you cook dinner? I don't know, and never will - I play music like ABBA while cooking. My friends and family seem to enjoy my meals, if not always my musical accompaniments. 
I didn't read three books this week - I am still slogging my way through Knit The Season. What I really, really want for Christmas is to finish it.


  1. I read a couple books a week usually, but I think I fall into group number two. I am a student and I work part time but my free time is usually spent reading, plus I have to read books for class. My friends are impressed by how much I read during the semester but it's really not that much considering that I work at a front desk where I just sit there. I read because I want to, not because I'm trying to rack up numbers.

  2. OMG. I just snort-laughed at that whole status update comment thing.

    I'm a group 3. Totally guilty. I think ADD (legitimate ADD, I mean, not the kind that everybody has) is to blame. Or I just have no discipline when it comes to my brain. I find myself flying through the words and before I know it my eyes are on page 349 while my mind is still trying to gather that the author's first and last name both rhyme. Or something.

    So that means I've read like 400 books and I couldn't summarize the plot of ANY of them for you. Isn't that weird/sad/annoying?!

    : /

  3. I love it :-) Thanks for the link & shout out but most of all thanks for the great post. I think #1 and #3 are the most common realities- plus I never trust people who brag about their reading. I'm like, who're you trying to impress? :-)


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