How Much I Read In One Week

I read. A lot. I keep lists of virtually everything I read, whether it is books or short fiction, articles, or blog posts. Even stories that I critique for other writers. And by applying a simply model to all of these things that I read, I have an estimate of how much I read in one week. The estimate:

145,000 – 180,000 words per week.

Here is the model I used to produce this estimate:

   Golden Age reading:    50,000 words
   Book review reading:   50,000 - 75,000 words
   Other reading:         25,000 - 30,000 words
   Stories for critique:   5,000 words
   Blog posts:            15,000 - 25,000 words
   Total                 145,000 - 180,000 words

That’s right, the grand total probably falls between 145-180K words each week. If we assume the average novel is around 90K words, we are talking 1-1/2 to 2 novels worth of reading each and every week. Spread that out over a year and you are looking at between 7.5 – 9.3 million words each and every year. That “other reading” section includes short fiction I read for fun, other books I read, as well as magazine articles.

There are probably people who read a heck of a lot more than that, but I have to say, given the fact that I have a full time job, 2 little kids, as well as my blogging and writing, I’m pretty impressed by how much I do end up reading.

How do I do it? Well…  I do my Golden Age reading on my lunch hour. And I usually have a solid block of time (at least an hour) to read before I go to sleep at night. In between, I read whenever I am not doing anything else. For instance, we had a fire drill at work today. For this drill, we had to evacuate the building and walk to a park down the block, where we waited for an “all clear.” I read during that entire time. Meetings invariable start late in my office. I always arrive on time and can fit in 5-10 minutes of reading before the meeting actually gets started. If I have to stand in line, I am usually reading. Waiting for something in the microwave: reading. You get the idea. I sacrifice mental quiet time for reading.

And yet, despite all of this reading, I always feel as if I am behind in my reading. It’s a little depressing.

I will say one thing: I wish I could write as much in a week as I read in week.

How much reading do you get done in one week?

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

7 thoughts on “How Much I Read In One Week

  1. I think you out do me, Jamie. Estimating blog posts is harder, but I figure maybe 150,000 words between books, stories and blog posts. My weekends can be awfully variable and change the totals dramatically.

  2. Dear Jamie,
    I am curious to know how you count the nb of words you are reading on your various devices? I read on my MacBook, my iPhone, and a Sony eReader. How can I count the words?
    Thanks for all your inspiring posts!

  3. Nelson, mostly experience. The issues of Astounding I read every two weeks are about 100K words each, thus 50,000 words/week. In isseus of Analog, Asimov’s, F&SF, Clarkesworld, and Lightspeed on the Kindle App, each story lists the word count on the title page, so that is easy to obtain. For other books I read, there is a rough formula you can use that gives fairly accurate results: number of letters and spaces on a line times number of lines on the page times number of pages divided by 6. But even there, I make rough guesses. The same is true for blog posts. Mostly it’s just experience and knowing how long it takes me to read something. (I think I read between 10-15K words/hour.)

  4. Thank you so much for the hints! Again, I really appreciate your blog. You’ve been the inspiration I needed for going paperless and take back control over a lot of things in my life!

  5. I am trying to fill up my ‘mental quiet time’ with quality reading rather than crap like Facebook and twitter. I always have a book on the go and instead of staying up until 2 am to read, I need to start filling in these little gaps with good reading. Thanks for this!

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