Thursday, January 15, 2009


One of my resolutions for 2009 is to read 48 books (4 books a month). As usual with most of my goals this may be too ambitious, but I did make one correction which I hope will lower the ambition and increase the feasibility of this resolution. As I mentioned in a previous blog I have all these heavy tomes sitting on the book shelf behind my desk. Each of these books is a major undertaking and could possibly take all month to get through just by itself. Previously I my (completely unrealistic) goal was to read a book a week and to generally select from that stack. So the change I made was to drop it from one a week to 4 a month (mostly to give myself more flexibility in getting through books, though shaving four books off the total is nice too) and to allow myself to read shorter, fluffier books. Since reading almost any book is better than reading no book at all.

In that vein I picked up David Sedaris' revised "Holidays on Ice" while at the library on Monday. It's only 166 pages with about 25 lines a page as opposed the 40 lines per page in a typical paper back (though I think I've seen as high as 50 lines a page). At 166 pages of 250 words a page (10 words per line seems about average) it comes out to 41,500 words. Which just barely makes it a novel according to the SFWA. No it's not Science Fiction, the SFWA is just the only group of writers nerdy enough to have thought about the dividing line between a Novel and a Novella.

Actually there's enough white space between chapters that it's probably less than 40,000 words, but I'm not going to let myself get hung up on that. It's clearly a book, hardback even, a group of pages bound together between a single cover. The big question I have is should I ever count something as two books? For example the other book I checked out from the library is Ken Follet's Pseudo-Sequel to "Pillars of the Earth", "World Without End" which clocks in at 1024 or 2^10 pages. Which if we assumed even 350 words per page would make it 358,400 words or more than 8 times as long as "Holidays on Ice". While I don't intend to count it as 8 books, counting it as two for the purposes of my goal doesn't seem excessive. But on the other hand it ruins the purity of the system. A book is a book, a collection of pages between the same cover (don't start in on audio books...) And whether it's 166 pages or 1024 it should count the same. What do you think?

The economy can't be all that bad if I'm honesty worried about stuff as petty as this...


Blogger Fred said...

I personally would count every 300 pages as a book so I would count it as 3...but that is me and I don't think I havetime, or wouldn't prioritize time to read 4 books a week, especially if they are occasionally 1000+ pages long.

4:17 PM  
Blogger aozora said...

Why not go by the page or word count?

5:27 AM  
Blogger Alberta said...

"...reading almost any book is better than reading no book at all."

I'd have to disagree with you there. I have read books that were definitely worse than reading no book at all.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Ross said...

To answer the two questions. Going by Page or word count drastically increases the overhead of reading. Probably by only a few minutes here and there, but they add up.

As to the second point (I guess it's not a question) that's why I said "almost any" book. And of course it depends on what you do with the time you're not reading. If you're staring at a wall...

8:11 PM  

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