One of my Facebook friends, cozy mystery author Lena Gregory, recently posted a question about reading habits, asking “how many books do you read on average?” She also noted that while she “used to read between three and five books a week,” these days, her reading time isn’t nearly as plentiful.
Lena’s question intrigued me, as did the comments in response. And they made me think about my own reading habits.
In childhood, six library books usually weren’t enough to last me from Saturday to Saturday. In adolescence, books were an escape from “real life,” and I read more then than at any time before or since. During my university years, I squeezed in fiction between the required academic reading.
And then in my years commuting to or traveling for day jobs, I devoured novels on buses, trains and planes. As a new mum, I always had a book to hand to share with English Rose.
Why I read—for entertainment, comfort, escape, relaxation, inspiration and learning—hasn’t changed over the years, but how much and where I read certainly has and, like Lena, I don’t read as many books each week as I used to.
When I’m in the midst of writing the first draft of a book and hold myself to a daily word count deadline, reading is a “reward” for meeting that target. During that drafting phase, though, I rarely read contemporary romance or women’s fiction because I fear being subconsciously influenced by another author’s work. Instead, I read non-fiction, travel memoirs, historical novels or young adult stories.
These days, I also usually only read in a short slice of time before bed, although I never leave the house without a book in my bag so I can dip into a chapter while waiting in a grocery store line, at a doctor’s office or when stuck in traffic.
However, this month was different, and when Lena’s question made me look back on my August reading, I realized I’d whizzed through nine books and had started on a tenth.
As such, I’d read more than two books each week throughout the month, something I hadn’t done for at least fifteen years (which, coincidentally, aligns with English Rose’s birth)!
So, what caused this happy detour from my typical reading habits?
I was on vacation for a week and always read more when I’m away from home.
Then I was in western Canada for two weeks taking care of some family business. Although I worked sporadically on writing during that time, I was thinking about and planning stories instead of putting new words on the page. For most of that trip, I was also on my own and, without Tech Guy and English Rose nearby, I had much more time to read.
I also read three women’s fiction novels, two romances (I’m a new fan of Roxanne St. Claire’s Dogfather series), a Campfire Girls story a then teenage relative received as a school prize in the 1920’s, and a non-fiction book about a women’s network.
And all that reading reminded me how much I enjoy reading for pleasure—not as an author to assess how the story has been constructed and characters developed—but reading for the sole joy of discovering a good story and savouring it through to the end.
After the Labour Day weekend here in North America, English Rose goes back to school, and I’ll go back to my daily word count and be lucky to read two or three books each month from now until Christmas.
But as I write this post, there are still a few days of unstructured reading left and I intend to make the most of them!
Inspired by Lena, how many books do you read in a week or month?
And if you read cozy mysteries, find out more about Lena Gregory and her books on her website here.